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palm sunday

Palm Sunday
Luke 19:28-40

Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! In the name of Jesus, who rode humbly and confidently into Jerusalem to save you and me, dear friends in Christ, I think it was my daughter Jenna’s birthday last year. We have a tradition of blowing up balloons for our children’s birthdays and just before it’s time for them to get out of bed in the morning we all gather together and shower them with balloons and sing Happy Birthday- they kind of look forward to this. Well, Jenna’s birthday happened to be a Sunday, so Sunday morning I got up, got ready, went about my normal routine, I knew it was Jenna’s birthday, I even walked by this bag of balloons that Katie had stayed up the night before blowing up and I went over to church and it never occurred to me. That is, until I came home at some point and my wife in no uncertain terms informed me, “You missed it.” Ugh! How could I miss it? It was right in front of my eyes! That’s certainly not the only time that I’ve missed out on something important. What have you missed out on? Perhaps a special sale, perhaps an important meeting or appointment, I don’t think any of us likes to hear the words, “You missed it!” And it’s even worse when it’s right in front of our nose, right?

There were people who totally missed it on that first Palm Sunday. What’s Jesus doing here on Palm Sunday? Jesus is showing us the true nature of His kingship and the true nature of His kingdom. Don’t miss it! Many people did and many people still do. Jesus is a confronting King, He’s a concentrated King, and He’s a coming King.

First, He’s a confronting King. As I read about the Palm Sunday account I used to think this all just sort happened. I used to think Jesus was headed to Jerusalem for the first major festival of the Jewish year the Passover and as he was making his trip into Jerusalem people all of a sudden took it on themselves to grab the palm branches and start singing His praises and worship him and Jesus is like, “Oh, shucks, this is nice, they’re finally giving me the praise I deserve.” But remember what Jesus told his disciples time and time again. I know you do because I’m asked about it just about every time that it comes up in the gospels – remember what Jesus often told people? “He warned them not to tell anyone that He was the Christ.” At first we think, “Why not? Doesn’t Jesus want people to know who He is?” But the reason Jesus didn’t want it then, was because it wasn’t time for that yet. But now, now IS the time, now, 5 days before His death, it’s time. Can you imagine the disciples? Over and over again Jesus told them how he would be handed over, suffer many things and die, but now he’s finally doing something right! “He’s finally letting us acclaim him publicly for whom He really is! This is great!” And Jesus is orchestrating all of this, isn’t he?

Jesus isn’t just meekly accepting this praise, He’s orchestrating the whole thing. Jesus has all this calculated out. He knows where the colt is, He knows that no one has ever ridden on it before, He even knows that some people are going to ask them about this colt, and He knows what to tell them! And it all happens just like Jesus said. Then the people throw their clothes on the donkey – they don’t want any donkey sweat getting on Jesus’ clothes, then they essentially roll out the red carpet for Jesus, spreading their clothes on ground, so Jesus’ donkey would walk on them. It was both an act of honor and an act of submission. Then they praise Jesus as the Messiah, the King, the Lord.

So that’s one reaction. But then we hear at the end of the text another reaction. The Pharisees are ticked. “Rebuke your disciples!” And how does Jesus answer? “I tell you, if they keep quiet the stones will cry out.” Jesus is the confronting King. There’s a very famous quote by C.S. Lewis that describes these two reactions, here it is, “You must make your choice. Either this man [Jesus] was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about this being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.” That’s true isn’t it? There is no middle road with Jesus. He confronts and He divides. You can either praise Him or kill Him, there’s no middle ground, no gray area, what you can’t do is say, “Jesus is just a nice guy” and move on. Either praise Him as your Lord, your God, and your King or kill him. He is a confronting king, don’t miss it!

You know what this means? Jesus is saying to you that either He is your King, the center of your entire existence, what your entire life is all about or nothing. But here’s the problem. So often we’re like, “I like Jesus as my Savior, but living my entire life around Him? What about me? Jesus can have this compartment of my life, but I also want my stuff- and Jesus you better not touch that or take that. I also want my money, I also want my pride, I also want this sin or that sin. Jesus says, “It’s all or nothing.” Either Jesus is the center of your heart with exclusive claim on your heart or nothing. He’s a confronting king, He confronts our sinful nature, are you ready to lay your robe, your stuff, your life down in submission to Jesus? Praise him with everything? He calls for nothing less.

But Jesus is also a concentrated king.  What’s he riding? A colt, a donkey. He’s riding into battle. But a colt- a baby donkey – is not the normal battle vehicle. If you take a colt into a battle, you’re going to be slaughtered! Jesus gets on a colt – not a war horse – to go into battle. Don’t miss what he’s saying by doing that! He’s a king, but He’s not the kind of king you would expect. He didn’t come to set up an earthly kingdom with force and might, he didn’t come to free them from the Romans, he didn’t come to win you a free, easy, and carefree life. He’s a concentrated king. He came lowly. You know why? Because he came to die. He came to be slaughtered. Sin is when WE try to be God, when WE try to be king of our lives and do what we want, salvation is when God – the Lord and king of all, the one who is higher than the heavens – puts himself right where sinners deserve. In 5 days he’s going to be hanging on a cross, He knows it, He’s concentrated, why? Because He knows that on that cross is exactly where He needs to be to pay for your sins, to forgive you, to win eternal life for you. Jesus is a concentrated King.

But finally, Jesus is a coming King. Did you hear what they said? “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” Did you see what tense it is? It’s present. He comes. He came into that city that first Jerusalem in order save and He did, He won salvation fully once and for all. But He is still a coming King. He is still the coming King who comes to you to personally rule in your heart and in your life. He’s still coming, don’t miss it! He comes in His Word, it looks like just ink on a page, like a bunch of words that are so often difficult to understand, but Words of life that change your heart, that’s your King coming to you! He comes in a splash of water and the word when you’re baptized. He comes to you to and lays claim on you, He tells you, “You’re mine! You’re part of my family! You have a new life!” Don’t miss it! He comes to you in bread and wine with the spoken word and says, “This is now your Christ, your Savior, eat and drink and be comforted and be forgiven.” That’s your God, that’s your Savior, He comes with salvation, He comes riding into Jerusalem for you!

Don’t miss your King. He’s your confrontational King, your concentrated King, and your coming King. Amen.