GRACE, MERCY and PEACE are YOURS this day from GOD our Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.
In the blessed and Holy Name of Jesus. AMEN.
Christ HAS COME, Christ IS COMING, and Christ will come again.
A few months ago during the season of Advent, we were in excited anticipation to once again celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus in the flesh. The Christchild of Bethlehem, born in a manger, born to a virgin, whose name was Mary.
What a difference a few months makes.
Never in a million years would any of us have anticipated that in 3 months and ten days, the world would come to a screeching halt as a plague spreads around the globe and governments around the world urge and demand that their citizens remain in their homes – that they do not venture out even for the salutary act of gathering with fellow believers to receive the Lord's gifts of forgiveness and mercy in person, gathered together with other believers.
It is almost unbelievable that we would be cooped up – staring at the same four walls – our lives and daily routines completely disrupted – and so full of uncertainty, even doubt and fear.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we need this season of the Church year that begins with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem more this year than any year I know of in my lifetime. We need now more than ever to know that what we do not comprehend or understand, is fully known and understood by our God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus. We need to hear and come to trust that all the things that cause us fear and uncertainty in this day and time are under His almighty power – that even this plague and pestilence is being used for His purposes and His glory.
And we know this is true because JESUS HAS COME. He has come to earth, born as a baby, took upon Himself all our griefs and sorrows. All of it is still working its way into and through Creation – the momentous we celebrate in Jesus' death and resurrection and His Ascension did indeed change everything.
BECAUSE of Jesus coming and entering Jerusalem to go to the cross and suffer and die, we have the sure and certain confidence that God has made peace with us.
“FEAR NOT, daughter of Zion, behold, your King is Coming” said the Prophet. This word is for us. Spoken by the prophet hundreds of years before Jesus conception and birth. It was not only told so that those who stew palm branches on the path would recognize Jesus when He came into Jerusalem. It is written for us even now.
BEHOLD, Your KING comes to you.
We don't behold this truth with our eyes. We behold it only with the eyes of faith. But even now, in the midst of this world – wherever we are right this moment, Jesus comes to us.
The only question to face us is whether or not He comes in blessing or in condemnation.
Consider the world around us right now. Is this God's curse and a plague upon mankind for their sin? Or is this God's blessing, to release His people and purify them and prepare them for His final return?
The answer depends only on whether or not you are, indeed, His. Do you know that Christ Jesus has come to rescue and save? That in Christ, you have forgiveness and mercy from God – that though your sins are as scarlet, He washes you white as snow and renews and restores you? Do you know Christ Jesus as the King over all creation and even the only hope of rescue and salvation?
Or do you still look to yourself – or to the idols of the world – to be able to rescue and save you? Is the power and might of government, The widsom and knowledge of Science, your self reliance and your personal initiative what you look to in times of crisis like those around us? What do you hope and expect will save us from this pestilence? Will it be our ingenuity? Our ability to all pull together and work together for the greater good? Will it be our great economic ability or our nimble and powerful businesses and industries that can rise to the challenge? Will it be our government and the leadership they put forward?
Or will it be the God who stands behind all of that? Will it be wisdom, wealth, and power that rescues us? Or, will it be the King who has come and sends forth all of these blessings so that we may be preserved and protected in the midst of whatever calamity and whatever hardship comes our way?
If it is in the things of this world that you trust in, be prepared for a great disappointment. They will fail. Perhaps God will use them to provide some temporary relief – and so many will be deceived into believing that they can some how offer hope true hope and rescue.
But this plague and pestilence that is upon us should show us that such hopes and expectations are misplaced. Our leaders were caught off guard. Early on in this crisis they acted in ignorance. Even before the crisis, they acted in arrogance and foolishness, thinking that we have the power in our economy and on our own to overcome any and every obstacle that could come our way. For decades they allowed our response system to languish and didn't replenish needed supplies. Numerous administrations prior to and including the current one looked to human ingenuity and resourcefulness. And one tiny, microscopic virus, smaller than the point on a pin has brought it all to a screeching halt. In many places hospitals are on the edge of being overwhelmed. The supply chain in many cases is weeks away from being able to supply the needs of our nation. And most of us are forced into hiding, hoping that all of this will blow over in a few weeks.
Trust not in princes, says the Psalmist, they are but mortal. They are fallible human beings. They all have big egos and often prey on our own sinful desires to be independent from God and self sufficient; that we don't need Christ. That we can do just fine without God's annointed King in our life.
Take a look around and answer me this, how's that working out?
How well have we done in dealing not only with this crisis, but dealing even with the troubles and trials and difficulties that come our way in our daily life? If we are honest, this global pandemic is just a large scale version of what often happens to us in different ways.
We believe we can do just fine on our own. We set out on our own path, we disregard God, disregard His will and His commands; we walk down our own path thinking we know best and believing if anything goes wrong, we can save ourselves by our own wit and our own wisdom. And so, we refuse to acknowledge our need that we need always to hear and listen to the voice of our King – the God who created us and rules over all things.
And, as a result of our own arrogant self-seeking, we stumble and fall into a pit. We must acknowledge that God does permit suffering and trial to come into the world – whether on a global scale – or into our own individual life. Just as the King and the Government deal with rebels by using the sword and seek to either bring them in line, or to make an example of them, God permits trouble and calamity to come into our life for the same purpose. To curb our wanton rebellion or to make an example of us so others don't follow in our sinful rebellious ways.
The difference between a believer and an unbeliever is how we understand and interpret these events when they happen.
To the unbelieving and the heathen, God's correction can only be received as curse and punishment. Those who don't know God can only feel fear and dread. We see this in these times of plague and pestilence. And, indeed, it is a proper response to acknowledge that God has many reasons to be angry with us because of our sin. God causes such fear and dread to fall upon us because death is NOT the worst thing that can happen to us. So God puts us in fear of our physical life here and now in order that He would cause us to realize the terrible situation we are in because of our sinfulness and our rebellion against Him. So that we would recognize our sin, repent, and turn to Him.
But, for those who don't know God or understand and comprehend the mercy which God pours out upon us in Christ Jesus, turning to Him doesn't make sense. They can only think that they should flee His wrath and punishment. But let's be honest, where are we to go to flee the presence of the Almighty God of Heaven and earth. Wherever we would go, there He would find us.
And so, our King comes even now, gentle. Just as he was on a donkey and not a war horse as He entered into Jerusalem, Jesus does not come into the world now to kill and destroy in anger or vengeance. Though we may not feel His love in these times, He permits these things to befall us so that we would see and feel our sin and turn to Him – receive forgiveness – and walk the path of righteousness for His Name's sake.
This is the reason Jesus came into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday because He was on His way to the Cross. There, on that Cross, as the soldiers pierced His hands and feet, as He bled and died, He was taking upon Himself the wrath of God over your sin – and not only your sin, but my sin and the sins of the whole world.
So that even in the midst of calamity, as the fierce anger of God is made known over sin – whether it's a worldwide pandemic or if it's a crisis and trial in our own life – we would have faith and trust to turn to Him and ask for mercy. Jesus came then, and comes to us even now, to reveal the love that God has for us – even as He is angered over our sin and our rebellion. Jesus came then, and comes now, to make us citizens and heirs of His Kingdom – so that we would eternally know God's love and mercy and peace. He came then as He comes now to pour out God's grace upon us and lead us back to God our beloved heavenly Father who seeks only our wellbeing and our good in all things.
Behold, in deed, Jesus will come again. Many even today wonder if these things we see and hear are harbingers of the last day when Jesus will return to gather those who are His to Himself and to give the wicked and rebellious their heart's desire – an eternity separated from God.
On that day when Christ returns in clouds of Glory, it will be too late to know and acknowledge Him – to receive His mercy and forgiveness. The angels will be sent to gather all mankind from the four corners of the earth, to set those who are His at His right hand and set the wicked and rebellious on His left hand.
Yes, what we see and what we hear should make us think of those days. Earthquakes, pestilence, famine, plague and all calamity should cause those who continue to rebel against God and His good and perfect will to tremble and fear.
But this is why Jesus comes to us even now. Because fear and trembling should not overwhelm our hearts. Jesus comes to us even now as we hear of the love of God which caused Jesus to come and go to the cross to rescue and save us, so that when that final trumpet sounds, and the dead are raised back to life, we find ourselves standing at His right hand.
The God of the Universe didn't need to enter Jerusalem on a war horse. He doesn't come to do battle with flesh and blood. Jesus took on flesh and went to the cross to bring hope and salvation to a dying world. To do that which we cannot do ourselves – namely – make peace with God – to take upon Himself God's wrath and fury over our sin. Jesus came to win forgiveness for you, and to give you peace and comfort in this life in the knowledge that your sins are indeed forgiven, because Jesus entered Jerusalem and was sacrificed on the cross of the tree as the final sacrifice for sin to win eternal salvation for you.
And He has won it. His sacrifice was the FINAL and FULL sacrifice for sin. Having taken the full cup of God's wrath toward Mankind and swallowed even the bitter dregs – dying for the sins of the world – Jesus rose victoriously over death and the grave – promising us that all who believe on His name and trust in Him for forgiveness of sins will also receive eternal life and He will be their merciful and gracious King and we will rule and reign with Him forever.
So on this day, even as a global pandemic reminds us that we have much for which to repent – and we have every reason to fear God's wrath and condemnation – we look to Jesus and shout with the pilgrims outside Jerusalem, “HOSANNA --- SAVE US NOW!” and we put our hope and trust in Him who comes to us meek and lowly promising to rescue and save us and bring us to be with Him who comes in the Name of the Lord.
In the Holy and Precious Name of Jesus. AMEN.