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Sing Hosanna to Our King

Palm Sunday

March 25, 2018

Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church

Sing Hosanna to Our King

 

Mark 11:1–10 (NIV84)
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” 4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!”

Dear Friends in Christ,

Jewish pilgrims would make their way up to Jerusalem for the festivals. Passover was a week away and the people were already streaming into Jerusalem from all of Judea and beyond. Jesus and his disciples also began to make their way to the city to celebrate the Passover. Jesus has recently given a blind man sight near the town of Jericho. It was about seventeen miles from Jericho to Jerusalem. It was also over 3000 feet in elevation change from Jericho up to Jerusalem. Before you would see Jerusalem, you would pass through the villages of Bethany and Bethphage. When you finally crest the hill near the Mount of Olives, the whole city of Jerusalem appears before you. It would be a welcome and beautiful sight for all the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the Passover.

You can imagine the young people making this pilgrimage for the first time stopping at the sight of Jerusalem and the temple. The idle talk along the way would cease and in its place a chorus of praise to God would begin. An entire group of psalms are titled “songs of ascent.” These were likely recited and sung by the pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem. Can’t you hear them sing with joy as they see Jerusalem appear before them?

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

or

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1)

or

I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. (Psalm 123:1)

Jesus makes this already special journey an unforgettable one for those around him on Palm Sunday. Not only do the pilgrims get to go to Jerusalem, they also get to go to Jerusalem with the Messiah, the King promised by God long ago. They have words of praise for Jesus, their King. We also sing hosanna to our King. We praise him because our King has everything under control. We sing hosanna to our King because our King saves in the name of the Lord. Sing Hosanna to Our King!

Our King Has Everything Under Control

Before Jesus begins his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he shows his disciples that he has everything under control. Nothing is going to happen to him this most holy week except what Jesus allows. First, Christ shows that he is the all knowing God by seeing a colt tied up in the nearby town. A skeptic would claim Jesus just made an educated guess. There was probably a donkey tied up in most towns. But Jesus says this donkey colt has never been ridden. In addition, Jesus foretells the exact reaction of the people of the town. They will ask why the disciples are taking the colt and let them go when they reply, “The Lord needs it.” A skeptic may still be a skeptic, but that is amazing!

Jesus knows what is going to happen. If he knows about a colt in the town, he also knows what will happen when he gets to Jerusalem. He knows about his suffering and death. This is not a surprise to him at all. One of the television networks is remaking the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” this year. It will be shown on Easter Sunday. I watched a bit of the original version recently. Jesus is portrayed as a man who is surprised by his suffering and death instead of the Son of God and King of the Universe who has everything under control. I can’t imagine that the remake is going to fix the glaring theological errors. When one takes away the divinity of Jesus, you don’t have a Savior and King to praise.

But the people praised Jesus on Palm Sunday. Crowds of people came to praise him – some from Jerusalem and some from Bethany and some who had traveled the road with him from Jericho. The people from Bethany knew that Jesus had everything under his control. Not long ago, Jesus had stood beside the tomb of a man who had been dead four days. Jesus called to him and Lazarus came out of the tomb alive and well again. Jesus even has death under his control.

As you sing hosanna to Jesus during your life, remember who he is. He is your King who knows all and can handle all things. He is not surprised by what you do, good or bad. He is not caught off guard when something happens to you. He never says, “I don’t know what do do about that problem.” We say it all the time but Jesus has everything under control. He even shows this by the animal he rides into Jerusalem. In line with Zechariah’s prophecy, Jesus rides a colt of a donkey. Not only that, but he rides a colt that has never been ridden before. Normally an unbroken animal will not take kindly to a stranger on its back. But this colt knows that the King of all is in control and makes no move to remove Jesus.

Sing hosanna to your king who has everything under control and who saves in the name of the Lord.

Our King Saves in the Name of the Lord

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!”

Hosanna had become a common word for praise but can also be a request to “save us.” Jesus came in the line of King David and saves in a similar way that David saved his people. Jesus saves in the name of the Lord.

Before David became the king, a giant named Goliath challenged the entire army of Israel. No one dared to face him. He was a huge man with incredible strength, powerful weapons and thick armor. He mocked the people and mocked the God of Israel. No one could match his strength. David did not try. Instead, he went out to face the giant in the name of the Lord for the battle belongs to the Lord. You know who wins the battle...the Lord wins the battle through his servant David.

Jesus also came in the name of the Lord. He was going to win the battle and win people’s praise in the way God wanted. Of course, Jesus had the power as the Son of God to demand praise from the people. Those who live under a powerful dictator may praise him but only to avoid punishment. Jesus did not come to receive praise from people who were terrified of his power. His enemies will praise him unwillingly on Judgment Day. But this is Palm Sunday. The people praise him for another reason today.

Some may have praised him because of what he could do for them. Jesus raised Lazarus. He provided miraculous catches of fish, food for thousands from a little lunch, and healed sicknesses and disease. Jesus could have earned the praise of the people by continuing his miracles. He could have won the hearts of the people, maybe even his enemies, by providing all they wanted in life. But as he rides into Jerusalem, he is not set on winning people’s hearts and praise by miraculously healing and providing. In fact there is only one miracle of Jesus recorded for us during all of Holy Week (excluding his own resurrection, of course). Jesus heals the servant’s ear after Peter cut it off with his sword.

Jesus would win the hearts of people and our praise by saving people in the way his Father planned. Our King comes in the name of the Lord to save us. His way into Jerusalem was covered with palm branches and cloaks. His way to save us was made sacred by the blood that dripped from his wounds. The crowds of Palm Sunday praised him. The crowds on Good Friday condemned him and mocked him. He rode a beast of burden on Palm Sunday. He would bear the burden of all sin as he carried his cross toward Golgatha. They shouted, “Hosanna in the highest!” on Sunday. They lifted him into the sky on a cross for all to see on Friday.

None of this surprised our King. He had everything under control. All this he did for us and for all people. All this he suffered to take away our guilt and free us from punishment. All this he did to save us. Sing hosanna to our King! He has saved us.

The pilgrims entering Jerusalem praised God when they first saw the city appear before them. May we join the crowds on Palm Sunday and praise the King, Jesus Christ when he appears before us in our lives. Sing hosanna to your King as you open your Bible and marvel at his control over all things for your eternal good. Sing hosanna to your King as you receive his forgiveness in Word and Sacrament. Sing hosanna to your King as we contemplate his great love for us this most Holy Week.

Amen.