O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
A Lamb on a donkey
A Lamb on a donkey
Based on Mark 14-15
Preached on March 25, 2018
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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Palms and Passion. They hardly seem to go together. Palms are for victory and triumph. Passion means suffering and death. Shouts of Hosanna! and cries of Crucify! Don’t seem like they belong in the same service. Welcome to the beginning of Holy Week, a week of contradictions and paradoxes that end with a death and a burial.
Even though Jesus predicted it at least three times and told His disciples plainly that the reason He was going to Jerusalem was to suffer, die, and rise, they didn’t believe it. Things were going too well. Jesus was popular and powerful. The moment was right. The kingdom of God on earth was within reach. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem atop that donkey and the people cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” everyone knew what it meant. This is how you greeted the king as he rode into the city. With tree branches and palms and coats laid out on the road. This is how you welcomed your king. Hail King Jesus! Now let’s get this show on the road and bring the kingdom of God to the earth. The people expected big things. A revolution to push out the Romans. Israel back on the map again. The Son of David on His rightful throne reigning supreme.
But it didn’t work out that way, did it? God doesn’t do things the way we do. No. There is conspiracy and bribery and betrayal. Jesus is arrested and tried before the religious and civil courts in a mockery of the vaunted Roman system of justice. He’s a blasphemer! The Religion cried. He calls Himself the King of Jews! The Government charged.
He’s the Son of God in the flesh. He’s the Messiah of Israel, the fulfillment of Moses and the prophets. And the verdict from both Religion and the State is guilty. Guilty of blasphemy, for He called Himself the Son of God. Guilty of treason, for He made Himself a king. This is how the world welcomes its Savior.
Yet Jesus knows full well what He is riding into. He is not surprised. Caught off guard. This is His plan. Hosanna! – Crucify! They seem like opposites to us. Yet they are the same to Him. Hosanna means “Save us Now!” Which is exactly what Jesus comes to do. He comes to save. He approaches on a donkey, like Isaac, led by His Father to be sacrificed on the mountain. The Only Son. Miraculously born. Through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed. Save Us Now! Let Him be crucified!) Your salvation is His crucifixion. It does not come by swords and armies – crowds cheering. It is purchased with King’s blood. Crowds jeering.
Through all of it, Jesus is silent. Like a lamb led to the slaughter. No word of self-defense. Nothing to slow it down or stop it. His silence appears weak, but it is the silence of strength. He knows where He is going. He knows what He is doing. This is His Passion to do, and in dying He obtains the victory for us all. Oh, our palm waving victory is there alright – it is His suffering and death. This is what we praise Him for now. And what the countless multitudes praise Him for in the eternal realms.
He is robed in purple, crowned with thorns, mocked, spit upon, beaten. This is how the world welcomes the King of kings. Did you know this is the only time in the Gospel when Jesus is hailed as a king? In mockery, by Roman soldiers. The only time he wears the purple of royalty, the only time when He is crowned, the only time He holds a scepter. His throne is a cross. It is even labelled – Jesus of Nazareth – King of the Jews. This is His sentence. The reason He is crucified. Because He would be the king of your sin. The king of your death. The king of all the pain and the sorrow and sufferings of this world. A king who rules by sacrifice and mercy and forgiveness. Behold, your king.
This is the only way to view His suffering: Not in pity, saying oh poor Jesus. Not in anger, seeing only the injustice of others that day – No - When you look upon Jesus you are not to see the sins of others – for the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
In Jesus - You see your sins – but they are His to bear for you.
You see your sins – but they are His wounds to bleed for you.
You see your sins – but this is His Passion. His action. His salvation – for you. This is how He reigns. How He rules as your king. How He fights for you. Do not try to battle your sins in your conscience, wrestle with your shortcomings inside yourself – throw them on Jesus – heap them up on Him, as your King calls you to do. That you may know His peace. That you may experience how the King of Sin is also the Prince of Peace. This is why He comes to you – righteous and having salvation. This is why He rides this day. For His people. For you. For me.
You were the joy that was set before Him for which He endured this shame. You were the object of His passion to save. None of this was for Him, it was always and only for you. That you may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.
Never was there such a King. Never was there such love. Never was there such a Passion. Hail King Jesus! Hosanna in the highest! In His Holy Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr