November 29, 2015
Rev. Ross Mahan; Pastor
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us this day through Thy Spirit and Word
And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
- Our Gospel lesson is taken from Palm Sunday, the Triumphal Entry when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt to cheering crowds waving palm branches and declaring Him their Messiah and King. The palms were symbols of victory and triumph for the one who had come to establish the Messianic Kingdom. As He rode into Jerusalem that day the people began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. Why did Jesus enter the city of Jerusalem that day? (1) He did this to fulfill the words of the Prophet Zechariah, quoted in Matthew: All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, gentle and riding on a donkey, and a colt the foal of a donkey (Mt. 21:4-5). Jesus came to earth to die a perfect death in our stead and to fulfill all that Moses and the Prophets had written of Him. After His resurrection Jesus said to His disciples: These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me (Lu. 24:44). Christ came to fulfill all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him (2) Jesus came to Jerusalem that day to offer Himself to Israel as their Messiah and King one last time. God does not desire the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23).
- We see a glimpse of the heart of God toward sinners as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. His covenant people had rejected Him as Messiah and in a few days the Jewish leaders and the Romans would have Him put Him to death. Jesus also knew that in a few years God was going to pour out His judgment upon the Jews. Jesus said: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Mt. 23:37). Christ laid down His life for the sins of the world, (Jn. 2:2), The Scriptures could not be clearer. He will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:4) and is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9b). Why are people not saved? Why do they fail to receive what God offers them? Why do men die in their sins? Because they stubbornly and persistently refuse to repent of their sins and believe on Jesus Christ. (3) Jesus came to Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday to present Himself as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). Jesus went to the cross voluntarily. He laid down His life of His own free will, no one took His life from Him. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again (Jn. 10:17-18). God saves sinners! We do not save ourselves.
- God continues to reveal Himself to man. Mankind by nature is a slave to sin. He is born with no desire for God; He is a stranger to God alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart (Eph. 4;18). Paul wrote: There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (Rom. 3:10-11). Left to ourselves we would never believe the Gospel and would die in our sins. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Cor. 2:14). The word can in this verse implies ability. The unbeliever apart from the new birth cannot know, believe, nor understand the things of the Spirit of God. He considers the Gospel to be foolish and not worth knowing. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see (perceive, recognize) the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3). Until we are born again of water and Spirit we will never enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus invites all who are weary of their sins to come to Him for rest and promises that anyone who comes to Him in faith will not be cast out (Mt. 11:28-30; Jn. 6:37). God reveals Himself to those He chooses. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (Jn. 6:44). I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto infants.
- Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Mt. 11:26-27). If you have believed on Christ it means God has opened the eyes and ears of your soul, He has forgiven your sins, reconciled you to Himself and given you the knowledge of Himself, the gift of eternal life (Jn. 17:3). People often ask: why did God choose me? Why did I believe the Gospel while my neighbor or family continue living in rebellion to God? God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame (Eph. 1:4). We had nothing to do with our salvation. It is the work of God from start to finish. But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. This was the question posed by the hymn writer Isaac Watts.
Why was I made to hear Thy voice
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
T’was the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sins
- God in his mercy reveals Himself to mankind in Creation. The revelation of God in creation is so clear that man has no excuse for unbelief. David said, the fool has said in his heart there is no God (Ps. 14:1). The more scientists explore the mysteries of the human body, our DNA, and how God made us, the clearer His revelation becomes. As we view the world around us we say with David: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies proclaim the work of His hands (Ps. 19:1). Creation reveals God’s eternal power and Godhead, His faithfulness and beauty in the changing seasons, His majesty and glory in the sun, moon and stars, and His love and care in seed time and harvest as He provides our daily bread. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Mt. 5:44-45). Our Heavenly Father continues showing kindness and compassion toward those who hate Him, who despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance (Rom. 2:4). God also reveals Himself to man in His providence. He protects and provides for all His creatures. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing (Ps. 145:15-16). Most of us enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal this week that many people in the world could not imagine. God reveals Himself to man in Creation and Providence.
- But God’s greatest revelation to man is in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. He is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:2). He our Savior and Redeemer is the Propitiation (payment in full), for all our sins. He came to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to enter His Holy Passion, suffering, and death. This was the reason Jesus was born. He entered the city that day with the full knowledge of everything that awaited Him there, His betrayal, His disciples deserting and denying Him, the religious leaders rejecting Him, the people turning against Him, and the soldiers beating, mocking,, and nailing Him to the cross like a common criminal. But He did all this for us. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (II Cor. 5:21). Yet knowing what was before Him, we see Jesus in the upper room loving His disciples until the end, encouraging, praying for them and washing their feet as a servant to teach us to love and serve one another (Jn. 13:3-5). We hear Him saying to His disciples: I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me; This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. God’s final revelation of Himself is in His Son our Savior.
- Christ continues to come to His people with gifts of salvation. Just as Jesus went to Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday to accomplish our salvation, to redeem us from sin death and hell, and on the third day to rise victorious from the grave, He continues coming to His people today through the preaching of His Word and the Holy Sacraments. Christ comes to us at birth through our parents who are the voice of God to us. They carried us to the Waters of Baptism, taught us to pray, to read the Bible, to understand the Catechism, and to obey God’s Word. Parents I urge you to take this responsibility seriously. Teach your children the Word of God and show them what it means to honor the Church, the Divine Service, the Holy Sacrament and the preaching of God’s Word. Do you want your children to love the Church? Would you like them to say with David: Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth. (Ps. 26:8). There is nothing speaks louder to your children than your example. If you want your family to hold peaching and the Word of God sacred, let them see you doing it. If you want them to make God’s Word and His worship a priority in their lives it begins with you. If you let the things of this world take the place of God’s Word they will see it and imitate your example. You have a window of opportunity to teach your children at a time in their lives when they will listen to you, don’t miss it. This is a life and death matter.
- Christ comes to us through the hearing of His Word to offer and seal the forgiveness of sins to our life. That makes the church very important. If we are saved by grace through faith, and if faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17), then how we treat God’s Word and the public means of grace is our real attitude toward Christ. To neglect the Church is to despise the Lord Jesus Christ. As the people sang the praises of the Lord Jesus the promised Messiah they sang: Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. Some of the Pharisees were offended and tried to silence the multitude urging Jesus to rebuke His disciples, but our Lord refused. He said to them: I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. We gather together with God’s people on the Lord’s Day to worship and praise the Name of the Triune God in our prayers, our hymns of praise, and the liturgy. We come here to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Heb. 13:15). We join with the saints in heaven gathered around the Throne as they sing the praises of Almighty God with the angels who cry out: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (Is. 6:3). Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious (Ps. 66:1-2).
- This is why we call our worship on the Lord’s Day, the Divine Service, for Christ comes to serve us by cleansing us from our sins as we gather together around the Word of God. As we worship God around the means of grace we grow in our faith. The Holy Sacrament is the response of the people of God as they understand their sins from the Word of God and come to the Table of the Lord to receive what Christ offers them, forgiveness, life and salvation. True worship isn’t about what we will do for God or how much we love and honor Him. True worship and hymns of praise speak of what God has done for us in Christ. Do you come here with a troubled conscience? Realize that Christ suffered for your sins on the cross 2,000 years ago and He comes to you to cleanse your heart from the guilt of that particular sin here and now so that you can go home justified, forgiven and right with God. We come to the Lord’s Table to receive forgiveness of our sins and to be strengthened in our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Small Cat). This morning is the beginning of another Advent Season, a time the church sets aside for repentance and expectation. In Advent we prepare for the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem, and look forward with hope to His victorious return in glory as Judge and King, and we give praise to God for Christ’s continual coming to us through the means of grace. May God grant us a new love for His Word and the people of God; Amen.