PALM SUNDAY/SUNDAYOF THE PASSION April 10, 2022
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
Here we are given to see our King. It’s Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The donkey is only a colt: it’s never before been ridden.
The Lord has taken a work animal.
Not a mighty steed, not a warhorse, not a horse for a battle chariot. That’s what would expect for a king.
But Jesus takes a common donkey, a farm animal. Kings don’t ride on farm animals. A farmer, a laborer, a merchant not with a king but with a farmer or merchant, that’s who rides on a donkey.
The Lord takes this lowly donkey up into his use. It’s never been ridden before. It’s been taken up into no other uses. This one is set aside for the Lord.
So this Lord rides into Jerusalem gentle and lowly—that’s the way he comes to save the sinner. Not the waving of victory flags at the front of an army of warhorses, but a single man, with no armor, no sword or spear, with no way to intimidate or harm anyone, riding in on a common work animal.
He has taken this one up into his own use. In this way, it is holy. It is a common thing, this young donkey to which the Lord has bound his Word of promise, by which the Lord is working salvation, upon which he’s riding, gentle and lowly for everyone to see.
The Lord riding on the back of this donkey is he who came into the flesh by mother Mary.
She, too, was common, she was unremarkable; she, too, the Lord took up into his use—in the most kind and dignifying way, she who had never bore children, who had never been married, the Lord honored her by taking her up into his use; he came to her in his word of promise, a word making her to be with child, that she would be the honored servant to bear God in the flesh. In this way, she is called not just Mary, but St. Mary, that is, Holy Mary.
She is holy in that the Lord set her apart for his use, bound to her his word of promise, so that through her he was working his salvation, and by her, as his holy instrument, he was coming into the world as a child, gentle and lowly, for everyone to see.
Mary’s child, now a grown man, rides into Jerusalem.
Here we are given to see our King—gentle and lowly, on the back of the colt of a donkey, riding to his trial.
Caiaphas the High Priest, Herod the king, and Pontius Pilate the Roman governor—this Christ will take them up into his use too.
Caiaphas thinks he is serving himself, just protecting his own jurisdiction and political standing by putting this Christ away.
Herod, too, thinks he is serving himself and his own power, protecting his throne, by putting down the threat of this Christ.
Pilate, too, thinks he is serving himself. He’s keeping strong the jurisdiction given him by the Caesar in Rome by getting rid of this problem of the Christ.
And they are all serving themselves, protecting themselves. What are they protecting themselves from? From this Christ riding into town gentle and lowly on a donkey, giving himself no way to intimidate or harm them, posing no threat to their earthly thrones and power.
But even their malice—the malice of Caiaphas and Herod and Pilate, their use of the laws and regulations to protect what’s precious to them—even all this evil they do in putting Jesus up for trial and then crucifying him, even all this, Jesus takes up into his use.
For he rides into town for just that reason, to be tried and falsely convicted, to suffer and die, in order to give himself the ransom for many. The one who rode in on the donkey, he has taken even their evil up into his use, so that by their hands he will die on the cross. This is our salvation.
So, see the one riding in gentle and lowly on the donkey.
Here look on our King. Here look at our atoning sacrifice, sent by the Father to satisfy justice.
We see the One who on the cross will willingly stand in our place to cleanse us from all sin. We see our delivery from all guilt, we see the covering of all our shame, we see the One who names us as his Bride, the church, and who presents us to his Father, holy and without blemish. He took us, too, up into his use, making us his servants.
He knows we are sinners. He knows our guilt, our malice, our deceit even better than we do. But he makes us his own. He cleanses us with his Word. He declares us to be righteous. He takes us up into his use. And for the sinner, that is the best news of all.
We see the One who loves us, who comes to us in his Word of Gospel even now, who makes us his own—we see our salvation.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.