We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all God’s people who give thanks to the Lord for He is good said … AMEN!
Christianity is a contrast, there is no doubt about the One and only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in complete love, sacrificial, selfless agape love and desire to save, reaches down to humanity, provides everything we need in order to not just live in this world, but for us to also serve in the eternal world of the resurrection.
Here He is now! Just as it is written in prophecy: “Rejoice greatly; O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” These words written by Zechariah a prophet between 522 and 486 BC, Matthew and Luke both see what is happening as they accompany Jesus, riding into Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit nudges them both, “this is what Zechariah wrote would happen 500 years ago.” Matthew and Luke write it down as part of their Gospels. There is rejoicing, Jesus’ inner circle of disciples is parading proudly next to their Lord, the Lord of all who are there. There’s no doubt in their mind, with all this cheering that this is it! It’s going down now! They didn’t know how, but they’d seen Jesus do so much; calmed the storm, fed thousands, healed the ill, raised the dead. Driving out the Romans, putting the priests, the lawyers, the Pharisees in their place, replacing them in power, pish-posh child’s play for Jesus. He’s here to bring the Kingdom.
500 years before Zachariah, the unknown author of Psalm 118 writes: “Blessed is he who enters in the name of the Lord … The Lord is God and he has given us light …Bind the festal procession with branches.” Here He is, Jesus is He who is riding on the donkey. It’s seen as a gesture of humility. But understood at that time to be a sign of kingship. Versus the warhorse, the donkey was seen as Jesus proclaiming His Kingship, coming to claim His throne. There was not universal jubilation at Jesus’ entrance. Jesus’ disciples were proclaiming; “Blessed is the King who comes in the Name of the Lord” according to Dr Luke 19: 39. While Matthew heard; “And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest.” Matthew 21:9. In Luke’s account Pharisees scold Jesus; “Teacher rebuke your disciples.” Meaning, these people are saying you’re a king, that you are David’s son, to make you David’s heir as king. You have rode straight into Jerusalem on a donkey and we are all aware of what you are claiming. The only thing missing? There’s no army. The rag-tag group hailing Jesus and his posse beside Him are no army. They were all full of themselves, sure that by some supernatural means, the enemies of Jerusalem would be swept out. They would walk in, pick up the pieces, assume their rightful places under Jesus and let the new world begin that they would rule under their Lord Jesus. Before we start worship I like to say: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it…” Psalm 118: 24, this is where in the Bible. The day the unknown psalmist writes about is a joyous day, he proclaims; “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Are the Pharisees, priests, lawyers, Romans, going to just stand back and let Jesus take over? Noooo! Hey Jesus the Pharisee reprimands, knock it off, tell your followers to back off, coming into town on a donkey may be nice symbolism, but we’re the sheriff, not you. That’s not going to change. We talk a good game about God, and we’re obviously the blessed ones. There’s a Joel Osteen sense with the Pharisees that since they’re the pretty ones, with the money, power and influence, they’re not going anywhere, nothing’s going to change. Have things changed? Oh yes. On a more powerful level than any of these grasping hypocrites can begin to understand. Forces have been building, the old order is being moved out. It may not be realized, but God’s Kingdom is now on earth. The stone the builders have rejected, has become the cornerstone. God the Son our Lord Jesus ends this same week, being mercilessly beaten and brutalized, then nailed to a cross to die. But it is only a prelude. What is necessary in order for Jesus to return in victory, to overcome the tomb, defeat death and the Kingdom to be realized. We live in a world that has been overcome for us. We have won the victory because we are in Jesus, entirely His and through that relationship, victors.
Friday is going to be brutal and merciless. Any palm branches people have will use them to taunt Jesus with. They will spit on Him, mock Him, jeer Him, “crucify Him”, they will demand of their pagan ruler. Jesus is abused in His Body and His Spirit. He hangs on that cross enduring all of the punishment around Him, yet still prays to God the Father “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”
This coming week is a series of wrenching, exhausting, at times demoralizing results. But when they are sure that their friend, their Lord, the One who they saw and served, will overcome all of the crushing events and produce the most monumental event in history. He will defeat death for us, overcome the grave. But doing so assures us of our resurrection and eternal life in the eternal, blessed, world of unlimited possibilities and excitement in Christ. Cheers, jeers, ultimately monumental cheers. We are the ones who win through Him who suffered.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin
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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit, and all those who thank and praise God for the Passion that Jesus suffered for us and our salvation said … AMEN!!
Our sermon series for Lent has been based on the hymn “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”, composed by one of the great Lutheran hymnists Paul Gerhardt, according to Wikipedia is based on a Latin poem written by Arnulf of Leuven sometime around the 12th century. While we know the physical wounds that Jesus experienced, the flogging, the crown of thorns, dragging a rough wooden cross over His beaten back, being nailed into that cross, being lurched up into the air and left to hang from that Cross. But more than that were the wounds that were inflicted on His heart, the emotions, the wounds that cut us deeply, as the series said those wounds that are inflicted by those we trust, or those who aren’t satisfied with just physical wounds but want to cut right into our very being, humiliate and debase us. Jesus suffered physically and surely felt the pain of what His disciples did, or failed to do the night before He was crucified.
We talked about the wound of betrayal. Yes, Jesus knew who would betray Him, it didn’t come as a surprise. Jesus wasn’t sitting at that table in the Upper Room thinking “didn’t see that coming”. He talked about the son of perdition and how that man, one of the twelve, one of His closest followers would betray Him into the hands of the world, of sinners. Quoting that sermon: “He had traveled many miles and shared many meals. Here was a wound that weighed down our Lord’s sacred head and brought Him sorrow and grief that compounded the weight of sin He bore upon His cross.” As you will see in our Living Last Supper presentation, Jesus will tell His disciples that; “One of you will betray Me” and each of the disciples asks the question; “Is it I Lord?” Jesus knew this time was coming, but I can’t imagine that lessened the cutting hurt He endured to have it finally happen and see a man who was so closely associated with Him, quietly slip away from the table and slither out of the door, trying to leave unnoticed by the other disciples. I don’t know how Jesus reacted, but I have to believe He was hurt deeply. I know if it was me my heart would sink in my chest and there would be a huge lump in my throat.
The next sermon was titled “The wound of apathy”. He and His disciples have finished the Passover Dinner. Jesus has left them with one of our greatest gifts, The Lord’s Supper. The next day Jesus will be the perfect sacrifice, for them, for us, for all Christians who know that we receive His true Body and Blood in His Supper. He has just taken the bread, “…and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’” Right after He makes this new covenant, this new promise, gives us this new hope that we would have the incredible privilege of taking His true Body and His true Blood, that our bond with Him would be very much spiritual and very much physical, that the nourishment we would receive from His Body and Blood would be the only nourishment that would preserve our body and soul, the only nutrition that keeps us strong in body and soul, immediately after one of the most profound moments in His ministry, in the history of all man, He reveals that “…the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.” We know the passion that He suffered physically, but we don’t really think of the passion in His heart, but that injury inflicted on Him right after He promises that His Body and Blood would strengthen and sustain our souls, His Body given for us His disciples. Then Judas slinks out the door: “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” Wow, guys, were you listening? It’s happening NOW! Is it that everyone has gotten a little too comfortable? They’ve ignored all the warnings He’s given them, that this would happen and there they are cluelessly chirping away about who is going to be the greatest? I can imagine how I would feel. “What is wrong with these guys? Have I just been airing my lungs out here? Have none of you been paying attention?” Yet, how many times do we forget what Jesus has told us and frisk merrily on our way, happy in our own little denial?
He knows it’s only a matter of hours, they go back to their sanctuary at Gethsemane. Hey it’s been a long holiday, we’re all bushed, what’s Jesus do? All the other guys are sacked out all around us and Jesus is schlepping Peter, John and James away. “My soul” He says, “is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here and watch with me.” Is that really too much to ask? “Guys this is it, in a few hours I will be experiencing unimaginable agony, stay with Me and pray, support Me while I pray in these final hours.” Just doesn’t sink in, Jesus goes and prays that He doesn’t want to go through the physical, emotional and spiritual agony that He knows is coming. He is so consumed that He is sweating drops of blood. But He trusts His Father’s will and goes back expecting His closest friends to be up waiting for Him in expectation. But they’re not, it’s just like any other night and they don’t even seem to try to stay awake with Him in His time of agony.
Now it is completely obvious what is happening. Jesus has been hauled away by soldiers and Jewish officials, taken to the high priest to be judged. All of His disciples have scattered or hidden. At least Peter did follow, at a distance. He’s trying not to be noticeable, but I can imagine Peter is still trying to figure out what’s going on, what’s going to happen. The same Peter who declared: “Even if I must die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matt 26:35) Peter makes this manly declaration to Jesus, but when it really counts, confronted by a little serving girl, a woman, Peter not only denies the Lord, but curses at the ones suggesting that he knew Jesus at all. Jesus knew Peter denied Him. He was brought outside, escorted right past Peter and looked at Peter, not with scorn, but with disappointment.
Perhaps at this point Jesus is so emotionally and physically wounded that the taunts and mockery of the Roman guards don’t really sink in. He hasn’t been with them, but He does know Judas, Peter, John, James, the ones who have failed and abandoned Him. But to know fully well who you are and why you’re there and to have a bunch of louts laughing in your face? The world still treats the Lord that way and if we think about it, there are times we do too.
The final wound is not something we, any of His followers inflicted, but because of the things we did, the sins we committed, the atonement for all of our sins, hanging on the cross, in the dark, with all of the sins of humanity on His shoulders, our completely holy, completely perfect Father has to turn His back on His Son.
God will not let our sin, our black ugly failings soil Himself. The Son has now become the perfect sacrifice, the propitiation of all our sins and His broken Body, which now bears all of that sin so that it may be forever forgiven of those who know Jesus as their Lord, but the Father in His perfect, holy nature will not bear that sin and has to turn away from His perfect Son. Hell is that place of eternal separation from the Father. For those who choose their own way and reject God, God allows them to have their way and eternally separates them from Him. In addition to the physical torments of Hell, is the torment of being eternally cut off from our only Hope and Promise in the Triune God. But Jesus suffers that separation, for the sin of all of humanity.
Yes on this day we remember how Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem as the King, because He is the King. King of all creation, Lord of Lord, He who will be at the right hand of God the Father. But five days later, subject to unimaginable physical and emotional torment, brought on by the sins of all of us here, all of mankind. Our eternal life is bought for us by Him, who through Him put us back into relationship with the Father, who when we sin, when we fail to live our life in Christ, the Father only sees His beloved Son, our Savior Jesus the Christ. By His stripes our sins are healed and three days later He will rise to defeat death and to give us the promise of true, eternal life in the New Creation, with Him as our only Lord.
The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom
 “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” Lent sermon series Concordia Publishing House