APRIL 9, 2006† PALM SUNDAY
A Glorious Death
9††††††††††††††† Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!†† Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation,††††††††††† gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.† 10†††††††††††† I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† ††††††††††† (Message by Rev. Ronald Feuerhahn)
††††††††††† Behold your king is coming to you!† Were you to hear an announcement like that, what do you look for?
††††††††††† Letís suppose the president of the United States is coming into town.† You pack up your family and drive to the route on which he will travel to his speaking engagement.† Your family sets up their chairs at the side of the road and together you wait.
††††††††††† Your son notices the traffic begins to thin out on the road.† A helicopter flies overhead, and you wonder if that is a sign that the president is on his way.† The tension grows with eager anticipation for the president to pass by!
††††††††††† Ten minutes later, the road is eerily empty.† Here comes a police car racing down the road in the distance.† It zooms by with its lights flashing.† The president must be on his way.† He will be here soon, but not yet.† The highway is empty for a while again.
††††††††††† Suddenly, two police cars are seen in the distance.† They drive by and swoosh, the air hits you in the face.† Then, far off, you make out some vehicles.† The excitement builds and you think you can seeÖ you can seeÖ
††††††††††† Well, what do you think you would see?† After all, this is the president of the United States, and he is coming to town.† You know what to expect.† You have seen motorcades on television.† The power, the honor, and the glory of such a prestigious office is displayed in the car in which he rides.
††††††††††† On this glorious day of the royal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, God Himself enters into His glory.† The very Creator of all that is, the omnipotent power of the universe, the One Who was, is and always will be, begins His triumphal trek to His most glorious and honorable day on earth.† How does He enter?† Like the president of the United States?† Like a powerful king or sheik from a dynasty?
††††††††††† When the president of the United States drives by, would you expect him in a Mini Cooper? An old Plymouth Horizon?† An AMC Gremlin with rusted doors?† Of course not!† But how did God enter into the glory that you and I see and believe?† He entered on a donkey.† This is our Savior?† Why would God ride on a donkey?
††††††††††† God would do such a thing!† Such a thing displays the very purpose of His coming Ė salvation!† The Righteous One would become the Unrighteous One.† The Holy must become unholy to save us from our sins.† The glory of God is in Christís humility and servitude.† He humbled Himself to take our filthy sinfulness and suffer the consequences of the eternal fury of God as His own punishment.
††††††††††† But unbelievers and the world in which we live look for a triumphant entry.† They look for limousines and well-armed motorcades.† The world wrongly assumes a grand and glorious entrance that reflects the honor and power befitting the Creator of the universe.
††††††††††† The unbeliever, though, sees with his eyes and not through faith.† The sinner looks and lusts for the excitement and honor found in the power of an earthly king.† We sinners want to win!† We want to have money and power.† Sinners seek a popular Jesus that attracts more and more people or an eye-candy Jesus who makes them happy and important.†
But thinking this way is not an entry into Christís glory, but rather an entrance into hell.† It is a road to the tomb with no chance of a resurrection into the presence of the Christ.† When we join the world in this kind of thinking, our sin is before us.
††††††††††† Even we believers, who confess the suffering and death of our Lord for our sins, we too yearn for a Jesus of glory whom the world would recognize.†
We lust for a Jesus who would be popular and a money manager so our congregationís budget Ė or our own budgets Ė would balance and show prosperity at the end of the year.† We sinfully seek a kingdom builder of wealth and power and numbers so that we might have bigger churches so we would be recognized and honored.† But Jesus, the Lowly One, calls us to lowliness and repentance.
††††††††††† We poor sinners need the glory of the God who died.† We need a God who suffered.†† We need the glory of the cross.† Thatís the irony of the Gospel.† It is a scandal to sinful thinkers.† That is the hidden truth that eyes cannot see, but only faith can believe and confess.
††††††††††† The glory of God that saves us is the death of God!† We might think the saving glory of God is in the splendor of the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon or even the birth of a child.† We might think the saving glory of God is in His resurrection.† It is not.† These are examples of glory of His power.
††††††††††† The power of God does not save us.† The glory of God that saves us is in His conception and humility, His birth and His life, and His suffering and endurance of the wrath of God Ė all of this in our place.† Our sin did this to Him.† Your sins, your hidden sins, your silly sins, your big sins, in fact, your entire sinful life was given to Christ.† He endured what we could not.
††††††††††† You know, itís really is insulting!† -- Itís insulting that God Himself gave up His holiness, power, and glory in exchange for our sinful, lowly, and suffering existence.† Itís insulting Ö but there we see the glory of God!
††††††††††† Well, then, how do we see the glory of God in our lives?† We donít Ė that is, we donít see His glory.† Rather faith confesses and sees the glory of God where He has told us He hides it.† Our eyes donít see the glory Ö our faith does.
††††††††††† ďHow does it work?Ē† You ask.
††††††††††† His Word and Sacraments teach us where to see His glory.† Zechariah tells us that our Lord rules from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.† He speaks of peace and righteousness, having salvation in humility.† In the lowliness of this sinful world, Godís glory hides.†
His glorious and triumphant entry into Jerusalem was lowly and humble, riding on a donkey.† That is how He accomplished the work of salvation.† In the same way, His glorious triumphant entry into your life hides in the reality of your daily call.
††††††††††† God has called you according to your vocation to do what you do.† He calls you to be a mother or father, a son or daughter.† God calls you to be a teacher or a student.† He calls you in so many ways Ö and you do what mothers and fathers do Ė love and care for your children Ė for there is the glory of God.
††††††††††† But pastor, it doesnít look like the glory of God.† It looks like, well, normal daily life!
††††††††††† Thatís it!† Now you are getting it!† The glory of God is found in the humility and service through your daily call.† Itís not flashy.† Itís not big and powerful.† It rarely makes the evening news.† Itís almost always the normal grind of daily life.† But it is still the glory of God.
††††††††††† Getting the children up and ready for school reveals the glory of God. †
Loving your wife and caring for her needs reveals the glory of God.†
Going to work and bringing home money for your familyís well being reveals the glory of God.†
Washing clothes and changing diapers reveals the glory of God.†
How can this be?† Because our Lord makes your work holy by His grace and His call for you to be His own in Holy Baptism.† He gives you the faith that receives the holiness of Jesus that He earned on the cross.† And so you are holy in what you do through faith in Jesus Christ.
††††††††††† The glory of God is seen through the eyes of faith trusting in Godís Word.† As Christians, we confess our Lord and His glory in our normal, painful, and hurtful life.† Christians understand that God and His glory comes into our lives in the poor and the sick, in the lonely and in the hurting, even Ė and especially Ė in death.
††††††††††† Our Lordís death is His glory.† There, on the cross, our Lord paid for your sins, and there you confess His glory.† There in all humility He served our most desperate need, the payment of our sins.† On that triumphant day of His entrance into Jerusalem, He entered the way of the cross.† That entrance took Him to His most glorious moment:† His death on the cross.
††††††††††† Through the glory of the cross, our Lord gives to us and teaches us to see His glory in the hidden reality of our faith.† When we turn to our lives and see them in faith, we see the glory of God in our suffering, in our humility, and in our service.† He calls us to love Him and others.† But once again, our love for God is hidden in our love for others.† When we love our neighbor, we love God.
††††††††††† So the love of God and His mercy came to you hidden in the waters of Baptism, and hidden in the eating of bread and wine.† These bring the glory of the kingdom of God to you and for your salvation.† They are lowly, humble, and simple means.† Through such humility He brings us to the glory of His kingdom.† Amen.