Sermon for Palm Sunday

Sermon for Palm Sunday

(Transcribed by machine 04/07/2024)

In the name of Jesus. Amen. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
To Holland and to all the baptized, you have a different kind of king. A king is put into office
and we call that their coronation or their exaltation. And that’s exactly what our Lord
Jesus is talking about in the gospel lesson today in John chapter 12. He’s talking about his being
being lifted up. He says to the Greeks who were brought to Him, sir, we would see Jesus,
and He says, now is the hour. And we think, finally, the hour that we’ve been waiting
for all through the Gospels. Jesus has said over and over, My hour has not yet come. But
now His hour has come. Father, glorify Your name. I have glorified it, and I will glorify
it again.
Now is the time of glory.
Now is the time of exaltation.
And Jesus announces it like this.
He says, when the Son of Man is lifted up from the earth, He will draw all people to
Himself.
But He said this referring to the kind of death that He was going to die.
Now here is a mystery.
His exaltation, His being lifted up, is His crucifixion.
It’s not as being lifted up on the throne like ancient kings would be lifted onto the
throne, and then the slaves would lift up the throne on their shoulders and would take
the king all throughout the town, showing how He is high and lifted up and glorious.
snow. Jesus is lifted up when He’s nailed to the cross and the soldiers
hoisted it into the socket that held it up on the hill. And Jesus says when this
happens, He will draw all people to Himself. Now this is astonishing, because
crucifixion was… amongst other things, crucifixion was ugly. The ancient Roman
historian Tacitus said that a Roman citizen would feel polluted and dirty just by looking
at a person being crucified.
That the people would avert their eyes, that they would turn away, that they wouldn’t want
to see the horror of what was happening when a person was hung up on the cross to die,
but here Jesus says, not only will men see me when I’m lifted up, but in my being lifted up, I will gather,
I will gather all people to myself.
The ugliest thing, the most horrific thing that you could ever imagine,
crucifixion, now becomes for our Lord the thing that is His rallying cry, His gathering point, the way that He
presents Himself to the world as our gracious heavenly King. Now this is the
kind of King that we have, and this is a completely unexpected thing, and I think
it’s maybe even captured already just in the in the events of Palm Sunday and the
triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Remember that triumphal entry was not
just… it didn’t just happen this time. Triumphal entries were happening all the
time in the ancient world. They would happen whenever a king would conquer a
place.
He would have a couple of triumphal entries planned, the triumphal entry into the city
that he conquered, and then the triumphal entry when he brought the conquered king and
all of the slaves back home, so that they would go out and conquer and have their triumph
and then they would come back and have their parade.
The closest thing that I know that we do now is the Super Bowl parades.
The army has gone forth and conquered, and now comes home, and everybody’s celebrating.
This is the sort of triumph.
I remember reading about the triumphal entry – how about this – of Alexander the Great
into Babylon.
Babylon’s a great, massive, old city, huge walls.
They used to run chariot races around the walls of Babylon, so you’d think the walls
were maybe as wide as this sanctuary, and they would run races around the city on this
huge, big, unconquerable city. Well, it was conquered by Alexander the Great, and so
he had to show his power, and so he had a parade that went on for miles and
miles. It had all of his soldiers, all of his cavalry, all of the enemy soldiers
that were conquered. It had all of the men on horses, the guys on
elephants, the guys on camels, and they would strew the road with
flowers, with rose petals, and they had incense burning all the way down, and
choirs singing the praises of Alexander even on the city wall, and the treasurer
of the city comes out to meet him and present a big gift to him, and Alexander
comes riding on a golden chariot pulled by a warhorse in his
full military regalia. Now that, that is a triumphal entry, and that is not how
Jesus goes into Jerusalem, and that’s the point. Jesus is not riding on a warhorse,
He’s not riding on a camel. He’s not riding on a chariot. He’s not riding on
my choice, which would have been an elephant. No. He rides into Jerusalem on a
donkey, the animal of peace. And he’s not surrounded by armies, dressed in all of
their armor, you know, shields and swords. He’s surrounded by
children waving palms, singing Psalm 118. He doesn’t have any soldiers with him. He
has his disciples who still don’t even know what’s happening. He comes, and this is how
Zechariah promised. He says, rejoice, daughter of Zion. Rejoice, children of Jerusalem. See
your King is coming to you, righteous, having salvation, lowly, seated on a donkey. He
He comes lowly.
He comes humble.
He comes meek.
He comes not conquering, but to be conquered.
He comes not as the one who would bring death and destruction, but the one who would die
and be destroyed.
This is the kind of king we have, and this is his kingdom.
When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself.”
Now the people who were listening that day understood that there was something mysterious
going on.
In fact, the crowds asked Jesus a question.
It’s pretty marvelous for us to think about this verse.
it says the crowd said we thought the Christ would endure forever what do you
mean you will be lifted up who is this son of man how can both of these things
be true how can you be the Christ who is supposed to have a kingdom that will go
one forever, and how can you also be lifted up on the cross to die?
It seems to us, the crowd is saying, like it’s got to be one or another.
Either you’re going to die and therefore not be the Christ that was promised in the Old
Testament, or you are going to rule forever and therefore not die.
It can’t be both, can it?
And Jesus says yes.
My humiliation is my glory. My cross is my crown. My hanging between heaven and
earth is my being lifted up. My death is my victory. My weakness is my triumph. My
suffering is my righteousness, and in this wildly unexpected kingdom, in this
completely reversed way of being exalted, the Lord Jesus makes you and I, sinners,
to be his friends, to be part of his family, to be citizens in his kingdom. So
dear saints, we rejoice. It’s starting now and thinking about it all week as we
celebrate the, if I did the math right, the 1,991st anniversary of the Lord
Jesus coming into Jerusalem on a donkey, being rejected and spit on and beard
torn out and crucified and laid in the tomb and risen from the dead. As we this
week celebrate this anniversary, we recognize that Jesus, as he is lifted up
on the cross, as he endures the ugliest thing possible, as he suffers in your
place, he is drawing you to himself so that he might be your King who is
righteous and comes to save. May God grant us joy and peace in our Lord Jesus
triumph. Amen. The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your
hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.