Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sermon -- 6th Sunday in Lent / Palm Sunday (March 24, 2013)

LUKE 19:28-40

In the name + of Jesus.

     When the Messiah entered the world, angels joined in chorus: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)  When the Messiah entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, disciples joined in chorus: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38) 
     Glory in the highest!  For, the Lord has entered our world.  The Lord has come to redeem sinners.  Glory in the highest!  For, the King of the Universe has revealed himself as a most merciful God who delights in delivering you from sin, from death, and from hell.  You must recognize that you are guilty of sin and that you cannot save yourself from it.  Even though you know it is wrong to covet, to lie, to slander, to cheat, to lust, and to seek pleasure from sources other than from the gifts God has given you, you do these things anyway.  You do not stop.  You are drawn to them again and again.  Therefore, you have earned your punishment.  The Lord would be just and right to send you to hell; for that is the judgment deserved by people who have defied the Lord throughout their lives. 
     But, “Glory to God in the highest!” (Luke 2:14; 19:38)  A Savior has been delivered to you.  He was delivered by the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem.  He is delivered by the Lord to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  It is a day when the crowds had already been gathering in Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover.  It is a time when the Israelites were commemorating the Lord’s deliverance from slavery and death in Egypt.  The Israelites in Egypt were delivered from their foes.  They slaughtered a lamb to feast on as they celebrated the Lord’s deliverance.  The blood of the lamb was smeared on their doorposts so that the angel would see it and death would pass over them.  The blood of the lamb delivered them from death. 
     The Sunday before the Passover was the day when the lambs to be slaughtered were chosen by the Israelites.  The Sunday before the Passover is when the Lord entered Jerusalem—the Lamb of God marked for slaughter.  Jesus is the Lamb of God, chosen to be slain for the people.  Jesus is the Lamb whose blood would provide deliverance from sin, from death, and from hell.  Glory to God in the highest!  The King comes to his people.  He reveals God’s glory to you.  He comes to be slain for sinners, for you.  Through Jesus, judgment, death, and hell pass over.  God is most merciful.  This is his glory—that God loves and redeems sinners.
     Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)  Jesus did not come just to be a sacrifice.  He also came to be a King.  Throughout his life, Jesus walked everywhere he went.  But on this occasion, he borrowed an animal to be his mount.  As a king, he would ride into Jerusalem to establish his kingdom.  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your king is coming to you… (Zechariah 9:9)  And although Jesus came as Israel’s king, he still comes in humility.  He would not establish his kingdom by slaying, but by being slain. 
     It certainly is a different kind of kingdom.  Kings usually do not make history for their compassion, but for their conquering.  Kings and emperors, princes and presidents demonstrate their powers through threats.  They have their influence in destroying others.  We remember kings who devastate and conquer.  We remember captains of industry, not the rivals they bury.  Even vandals get a thrill out of knowing that they have stolen a stranger’s time and expenses.  Man’s power and influence is almost always seen in destroying property, reputation, or lives. 
     That is how we think of authority: Who can exercise the most power?  We muster what little power we have to mess with people’s lives—whether that means you cut them off in traffic, you make them wait for you just because you can, or you berate them.  The world knows that there is no power in turning the other cheek, only in striking back.  You have bought the lie.  You find a perverse joy in knowing that you made someone bow to you.  And your glory is telling your friends how you ripped someone apart and got your way.  Repent; for you are not mighty.  You are dust and breath.
     Jesus is a king—the almighty Sovereign who lives and reigns over all things.  But Jesus’ power as King is not seen in destroying people.  And the kingdom he comes to establish is not reason for you to recoil or to retreat.  On the contrary: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! … Behold, your king is coming to you… and he shall speak peace to the nations…. (Zechariah 9:9-10)  Jesus is most certainly a King, but he has come to bestow peace.
When he was born, the heavenly chorus sang, “On earth peace.” (Luke 2:14)  When he entered Jerusalem the earthly chorus sang: “Peace in heaven.” (Luke 19:38)  Heaven and earth join together to declare the peace that Jesus brings.  And the peace that Jesus delivers to you comes from him being slain for you.  Jesus subjected himself to all belittling and beating.  He exposed his face to fists, his beard to spit, his back to scourging, and his wrists to nails.  When his enemies made accusations against him, he remained silent to the charges.  He accepted blame and guilt.  For, Jesus was not looking to flaunt his power or defend his innocence.  He was looking to redeem you.  So the Lamb of God was slain on your behalf.  His blood atones for your sin and covers your guilt.  Therefore, death and hell must pass over you.
     Jesus speaks peace.  God is not bent on destroying you.  His kingdom is not about oppression, but mercy.  His kingdom is not about guilt, but joy.  His kingdom is not one of death, but life.  His kingdom is not about you having to measure up, but it is about being forgiven because you have fallen short.  Having been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, you strive to be faithful members of his kingdom.  You want to be good and noble and honorable and obedient.  But you do not have to fear if your works are good enough or if your flaws and failings have cast you out of his kingdom.  For the blood of the Lamb still marks you.  You are forgiven.  You are redeemed.  The King has granted you his royal and divine pardon.  His peace conquers sin, death, and hell.  The King reveals this glory and bestows this peace.
     Heaven and earth still sing his praises today.  In just moments, we will feast on the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He will have mercy upon us.  He will grant us peace.  The saints on earth with join the company of heaven.  The choirs of heaven will sing the song of earth: “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  The choir on earth will sing the song of heaven: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of heavenly hosts!  Heaven and earth are full of your glory!”  We sing the song of the King, for he has revealed his glory: He is the King who rules by forgiving sins and showing mercy.  He bestows his peace upon you.
     Rejoice!  For Jesus, your King, has come.  He is gentle and humble, but he reveals a glorious kingdom.  He forgives wickedness.  He conquers death.  He buries hell and opens heaven.  He prepares a feast in which he delivers salvation.  And he saves you so that you may join his eternal feast.  Your King has delivered you into his blessed kingdom, and he bestows an everlasting peace. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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