(REBLOGGED FROM Pastor Bill Willenbrock, Calvary Lutheran Church-LCMS http://www.calvluth.org)
When I heard this story growing up there is one thing I could never wrap my head around. On Sunday the people of Jerusalem were welcoming Jesus with shouts of Joy saying, “Hosanna to the son of David”. With these words they’re proclaiming him their king, more than that they’re proclaiming him the long awaited messiah the one who would save Israel and rule forever. That’s what Hosanna means, save us. Yet five short days later, their cries turn to something more sinister, they seek his death. The third verse of the hymn, “my song is love unknown”, says it best. “Sometimes they strew His way, And His sweet praises sing; Resounding all the day Hosannas to their King: Then “Crucify! “ Is all their breath, And for His death They thirst and cry.” How could they change their minds so quickly? How could they be so fickle?
Before we can ask that of the people of Jerusalem we must first ask that question of ourselves, for we are often fickle. We sing hosannas on Sunday, but later in the week the things of God are far from our minds and our hearts. We don’t yell crucify him, that is true, but do we crucify him to this building. In other words “Jesus stay put, you’re a Sunday morning things” Do we take him into our homes? Do we invoke his name in family prayer? Husbands—Fathers, if the answer is no, then it is we who have failed. Or how fickle are we when we experience suffering? We’ll call Jesus our King as long as things go the way we want but when they do not how quickly we doubt. If you are really God and you love me, you would never let this happen! In those words we side with the Pharisees and the Sadducees who call Jesus an imposter. Or what of scripture? When we like what it says we mark it with a highlighter, we commit it to memory, when we don’t like it though, are we quick dismiss it saying, surely that’s not what God meant. Or maybe that’s just for those people long ago. As Saint Augustine wrote, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”
We have been fickle. But Christ never waivers; concerning you he is never fickle. What does the Old Testament lesson say? Zechariah writes five hundred years before Christ’s birth, “Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey.” Even before that, before the foundations of the world were laid, God had a plan to rescue you, a plan he never departed from—never flip flopped on—a plan to hosanna you. And Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, marks the final days before that plan is finished.
Jesus rides on this donkey today, knowing full well that he is marching to his death. Yet he doesn’t look for an off-ramp, he doesn’t turn the colt around. He marches onward knowing that every single person who shouts his praises today, will betray him come Thursday, the very people he is coming to save. He rides on a donkey, not on a snarling war horse, or a golden chariot. He does this to show that he is a gentle King, a humble King, a merciful king. He comes on a donkey because a donkey is a beast of burden. “‘Behold, your king is coming to you… on a donkey…the foal of a beast of burden.” On him was placed the burden of our sin and he carried that burden to where it needed to go, he carried our sin to his death. We read in the epistle lesson, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
What is the highest name? It’s not Yahweh the name of God in the Old Testament, it’s not Elohim or Lord or God, the name above EVERY name is Jesus. Jesus means the Lord Saves. To know God, to see God, to encounter God, you must encounter him as savior. As the one who gives freely though you don’t deserve it. You see if I earn God’s love I don’t have a savior I have an employer. To have Jesus, to have a savior is to know your failings to know your weakness and also to know that in spite of them God gives you mercy—gives you his love—all on account of the cross, on account of his grace. There is no greater love.
With love like this let us pray that we would not be fickle but faithful. You probably noticed that the readings we read are different than the one’s printed on your insert. There is a growing trend among many Christian denominations to replace Palm Sunday with “Passion Sunday”. In other words, on the Sunday before Easter don’t read about Jesus procession into Jerusalem with the Palm branches, no read about Jesus dying on the cross. Why in the world would they do that? Because so many people neglect to go to services like Maundy Thursday and Good Friday that those people never hear the crucifixion of Jesus read in Church. They go right from Palm Sunday to Easter. So in an effort to combat this they made “Passion Sunday”. Let’s not be so fickle. Today begins Holy Week let us ride with our Lord today, let us sit with our Lord at his table on Maundy Thursday, let us witness our Lord’s love on Good Friday. This is the beauty of the liturgy of the church year, we don’t just hop all around scripture week after week, we live the story. Let us live the story together this week at 6:30 on Thursday and Friday.
May our Hosannas not fade like the people of Jerusalem’s. May they not fade as we leave this sacred space. Verse 11 of our text says, “When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” You have the answer. You know who this Jesus is. God grant you’re the opportunity and the will to answer that question for someone. May our Hosannas not fade to the back seat of busy lives—fade out of distraction. But may our Hosannas continue until we line the streets of the New Jerusalem, may they continue for all time. Amen