Sunday, March 22, 2015

Time in the Word - Palm Sunday

The theme for Palm Sunday reminds us that Lent is a time of opportunity. Our lessons ask us to come to a decision as we ponder who is this Jesus who comes riding on a donkey through the streets of Jerusalem.  In the Old Testament lesson (Zechariah 9:9-10), our king comes with a promise.  In the Epistle lesson (Philippians 2:5-11), in humility, Christ came to earth to die. In the Gospel lesson (John 20:20-43), Christ came to Jerusalem to be king. The Psalms and hymn for the day fill in to round out this basic theme. On Sunday Christ is hailed as King and Lord. By Friday He would be dead. Yet in His rejection do we find life eternal, peace, and rest. We are preparing for the most important week of the Church Year. The cross is coming into clear focus. What do you think of Jesus? How you answer this question will determine your destiny.

Collect for Palm SundayAlmighty and everlasting God the Father, who sent Your Son to take our nature upon Him and to suffer death on the cross that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility, mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ in His patience and also have our portion in His resurrection; through Jesu Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Monday, 23  March 2015Psalm 24:7-10; antiphon, Psalm 118:26—In the antiphon the Psalmist echoes the cries of the crowd on that first Palm Sunday, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The long sought after King has finally arrived. Along with the children and crowd, we hail Jesus as King and God forever.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015Psalm 118:19-29 key verse, verse 26Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the housed of the Lord we bless you. The one who with God’s help has defeated the enemies is blessed. Yet as we look deeper at this passage we will see that it is written in the plural and, of course, this makes it a reference to God and to Christ in particular. When the crowd would quote these verses upon Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, we see Divine prophecy being fulfilled.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015Zechariah 9:9-12— Israel shall rejoice over the coming of a humble, victorious, and peaceful king.  God’s judgment is coming upon Israel’s wicked neighbors, but God as King will come to Israel. This is cause for loud rejoicing. He is coming as a humble king, symbolized by His riding on an ass. He is coming to conquer Israel’s enemies, and peace will result. In fulfillment of this, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on an ass and presents Himself to the nation as their king to the waving of palms and to the tune of hosannas.

Holy week with its horrors and tragedies begins with a shout of joy – “Rejoice”…”Shout aloud.”  Even in the depth of pain and gore, there is a joy. Jesus endures the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The joy is that the Savior is coming to die for our sins and to assume kingship over our lives.

The Messiah comes on an ass, not on a mighty horse. An ass is a humble animal and symbolizes peace. The ass carried the Christ to the people. Today we can serve as asses to carry Christ to the world. To do so, we must be humble. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015Philippians 2:5-11—Jesus’ humiliation and God’s exaltation of Him.  Paul is pleading for unity in the Philippian congregation. He uses Jesus as an example of humility. In this passage Paul shows the dual reality of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. His deity is indicated in the words “in the form of God” and “equality with God.”

His humanity is expressed in the phrases, “emptied himself,” “the likeness of men,” “in human form,” “obedient unto death.” 

This humility, obedience, and self-renunciation led to Christ’s exaltation by God who gave him a name above all names – “Lord.”   It is God’s will that every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.
As a result of this horrible death, God honors Jesus with not a name but with “the name.”  In Biblical thinking a name denotes the nature and character of the person. The name given to Jesus was “Lord” which every tongue is to confess and before which every knee is to bow. 

Paul claims that Jesus, before the Incarnation, was on an equality with God – “very God of very God,” as the Creed says. If He were equal with God, there was no need for Jesus to grasp any honor, authority, or power. This is a confession of the deity of Jesus Christ.

Friday, 27 March 2015John 12:12-19—This is the accounting of Christ’s entry into the city of Jerusalem.  Prophecy is being fulfilled. The King is being hailed. The very stones cry out if the crowd is silenced. The religious authorities will have nothing of it. They will see to it that Jesus is destroyed and His praises silenced. Soon His sufferings will begin but for this day we shall worship Him along with the crowd as our Savior and Lord.  

Saturday, 28 March 2015Psalm 24:7-9 The hymn of the Day is All Glory, Laud and Honor – {LSB 442}.  The Lord Almighty, the Lord mighty in battle, has triumphed over all His enemies and comes now in victory to His own city. This is what Jesus proclaimed on the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Tomorrow we worship our Savior as Lord, Christ, and King. Worship at its best happens when Christ is the focal point of our praise.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing Lima, OH

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der B├╝cher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures).

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