St. Matthew 21:1-9 – Palm Sunday 2011

Rev. George Borghardt

Happy Lent! In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Holy Week. It’s here. And with it, comes repentance. Even sinners like me, get serious about their faith in Holy Week. Time to at least try – how could we not? Jesus has come to Jerusalem.

David’s Son has returned to David’s Throne. He rides in humble majesty. He is the fulfillment of every Old Testament promise – He’s even on the royal donkey – just like Zechariah promised.

Rejoice, daughter of Zion. Shout, daughter of Jerusalem. See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation. Humble and riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

The King has returned to save His people. To bring about salvation, peace, and to fill their songs with joy.

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Hosanna is the Hebrew, “Save us, Lord.” And to the highest? “Save us, Lord, to the highest!” That’s a prayer that only He can answer.

“Son of David” is King David’s Son. King David, so King Jesus. The One who would rescue the people of Israel from Rome, from their conquerers, from all that would harm them.

We hungered for righteousness. We thirst for salvation. Some sign – a healing, a miracle, some fish poboy to quench our appetites.

And Christ has achieved all those things for you. He rescued you, fed you, redeemed you, saved you – from your hunger, from your thirsting, from your sicknesses, from your pain, even from your death.

For Jesus did not consider His being God Himself something to grasped, something to be understood by the people in Jerusalem that day. No, He takes upon the form of the servant. He humbled Himself and was obedient even unto death – even death on the Cross.

And this is the week. It happened here, beginning with His ride into Jerusalem today. He will cleanse the temple. He will preach the Gospel. And He will be rejected by the chief priests and teachers of the Law.

Judas, one of His twelve, will betray Him at Gethsemane. And when the Shepherd is struck, the sheep will scatter.

He will be beaten before the high priest. He will be mocked. Denied by Peter. Judged as anything but God by the chief priests and teachers of the Law. Carted off to Pontius Pilate. Crowned with thorns. Robed with purple as the guards scornfully bow before Him and then they will beat Him with a reed.

“Behold, the king of the Jews.” His own people reject Him. They’ll have no king but Caesar. Lots will be cast for His clothes.

Nakedness. Nails in His hands and feet. Bleeding. Lifted up in shame for all the world to see. “Cursed is anyone,” says the Scripture, “who hangs on a tree.”

Hangs on a tree – He’ll do that for you. He’ll be cursed for you. They wag their tongues at Him. They ridicule Him and shake their heads at Him. “He trusted the Lord, let Him rescue Him. Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him.” If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross. He saved others, surely He can save Himself.

But He doesn’t. No one saves Him. My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me? Why are you so far from helping Me?

“Hosanna in the Highest! Save us Lord, in the Highest!” Jesus answers our Palm Sunday prayer on Good Friday, from the Cross where He suffers and dies as the sacrifice for all your sins. So that the people of Jerusalem would be saved, so that you and me would be saved solely by His death on the Cross.

Today, Jesus rides into Jerusalem to the sound of children singing and to the prayers of all the people of Jerusalem. The city is stirred, shaken, by His arrival.

Today, He comes to you in His Word and Supper. Delivering into your mouth the forgiveness sins, rescuing from your failures and mess ups, and giving you eternal life in Him.

What you have and haven’t done cannot harm you. Where you have failed – in your life, in your work, in your family, in your marriages, is forgiven.

Not forgiven because you do this or that or because you adapt your life or change things for the better, but solely because Jesus heads into Jerusalem and then to the Cross to suffer and die for the failures in your life, your work, your family, and your marriages.

You see, if they were just mess-ups or oopses, we could fix them. We could make them right. We could have our good stuff out weigh our not good stuff with God and those around us.

But, they aren’t failures. They aren’t mess-ups. The things that we do to one another are sins – sins rooted in the simple fact that we love ourselves more than we love those around us. We put ourselves first.

You do. I do too. And when we deal with those around us, we expect them to love us more than they love themselves. We expect them to be Christian, even when we won’t, can’t, refuse to be.

We recognize how selfish our sins are, how destructive they can be, but like a rubber ball, we bounce back and forth between trying to love those around us and the selfish, evil, self-centered, turned-inward stuff we do. And there’s no breaking this cycle of sin, failure, guilt, and shame.

And during Holy Week, we try even harder to pull ourselves up, we recommit, re-focus, and do what we must do to get that holiness from that we long for, that we know that He requires.

But, you’ll never find that holiness, dear friends. Never. Not inside you – not even in Holy Week. Inside you, you will never put the holy in Holy Week.

I know you know the Scriptures say that you won’t find holiness inside yourselves... but I know you’ve tried. I have tried too to find within myself some glimmer of goodness toward God and those around me.

But, you won’t ever find it. Not inside you. Ever. I won’t either. Inside us is only failure, sin, guilt, and shame.

Today, Jesus rides into Jerusalem to save you, even you, from your failures, from your sins, from your guilt, and from your shame. He rides into Jerusalem today, in lowly pomp, headed for the Cross to die.

To make you holy – even you. To deliver holiness to you – in water, in words, in bread and wine. To give you the holiness that you will never find inside of you that will make you holy before God in heaven.

Holy Week is here. Jesus is on His way into Jerusalem. David’s Son is riding into David’s Throne – the Cross for you and me.

Watch. Listen. Hear. Take every opportunity – try as hard as you can this week to be at all the services – in order to receive from Him this week. Watch Jesus on His way to Calvary. Listen to what He says. Hear what He does. And Receive .... Receive His holiness.

Happy Holy Week! Jesus has come into His city to put the holy into “Holy Week.” For clueless Jerusalem, for you in all our sins, even for me in mine.

Jesus – it’s His holiness that we are watching this week, His holiness that we hear about, His holiness that we receive. He alone makes us holy.

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna to the highest! INI. Amen.

Created: April 17th, 2011