Who is This That Comes in the Name of the Lord? (April 14, 2018)

Sermon Text: Luke 19:28 – 40

Pastor Daniel Schmidt

Imagine that you are there standing among the crowd that first Palm Sunday?  What do you see?  What do you hear?  Maybe you see Roman soldiers keeping an eye on the crowd.  You see Jesus, riding on a young donkey.  You see some people spreading their clothes on the road, while others are waving palm branches.  As the crowd gets closer, you hear them praising God and saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Suddenly, someone comes up to you and asks: “Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?” How would you answer that question? Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?  Based on our Gospel Lesson from Luke chapter 19, and his inspired account of that first Palm Sunday, we will answer that question this morning.

Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord? First, we know that Jesus is true Man. But he is also true God.  As true God, Jesus is omniscient or all-knowing; he is also omnipotent or all-powerful.  Jesus showed his omniscience as he told his disciples exactly what to expect when they went to get the donkey he would ride.  And we are told, “Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.  As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’

Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?  Not only is the one who comes in the name of the Lord all-knowing, he is also omnipotent or all-powerful.  Luke records these words of the Savior, “’Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.’”  And how did this colt, this young donkey, which had never been ridden, react to the crowds and the noise that day?  We don’t read of the colt being frightened or “spooked” by the crowd.  Rather, it simply walked along.  Jesus also showed his omnipotence in his answer to some of his enemies.  We read, “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’’’ Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?  He is the God-Man Jesus, who is all-knowing and all-powerful.

Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?  There is another answer that can be given when we look at how Jesus rode into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday.  He rode in on a donkey.  Now to us today we wouldn’t think of this as such a “grand entrance.”  But the people in Jesus’ day knew what it meant.  They knew passages from the Old Testament like the one we read earlier from Zechariah chapter 9, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Jesus was coming into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday as a direct fulfillment of this prophecy from Zechariah.  He was coming as the promised Messiah – the Savior promised to God’s people throughout the Old Testament.  This is why his enemies wanted Jesus to quiet the crowd. This is why the people were singing in the words of Psalm 118,  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  This is why others were echoing the song of the angels on the night of Jesus’ birth, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?  He is the all-knowing, all-powerful, promised Messiah.

Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?  The song the people sang gives us the answer, “Blessed is the kingwho comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  The people of Jesus’ day knew the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the promised Messiah.  Prophecies such as those in Isaiah chapter 35, “Your king will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”  And again from Isaiah’s prophecy, where the promised Messiah is quoted as saying to his people, “I will proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners.”  This why the crowd was giving Jesus a welcome fit for a king.  As God’s Word tells us, “As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.”  At the time of Jesus, spreading clothes on the road signified that the person coming is royalty.  He is a king.

But it is a sad fact that far too many people in Jesus’ day only saw him an earthly king.  Many in the crowd that day thought Jesus would be their political Messiah, to free them from the oppressive Roman government.  If they only would have listened carefully to their own song of praise. “Peace in heaven“, they sang. This is why the Old Testament prophets said the Messiah would come.  It was not to establish a kingdom here on this earth.  It was not to bring earthly peace.  As Jesus would later tell Pilate early Good Friday morning, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  And in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday Jesus comforted his disciples when he said to them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus Christ came as the Promised Messiah not to set up an earthly kingdom of peace, but rather to bring peace between a holy and righteous God and a sin-filled human race.  As Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday he came as the perfect sacrifice for sin.  He came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.  Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?  He is the all-knowing, all-powerful promised Messiah, our King, who brings peace.

At the beginning of Holy Week it is good for us here this morning to remember the answer to the question, “Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?”  Far too often you and I would rather not have Jesus see what we are doing, or know what we are thinking.  Far too often you and I are guilty of thinking Jesus owes us something.  We question why he doesn’t make things better for us here on this earth.  Let’s be clear: What you and I deserve for such sinful attitudes and thoughts is to have Jesus march right over the top of us, crushing us in defeat and sending us to a never-ending life in hell.

While this is certainly true of each one of us here today, remember the answer to the question: “Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?”  He is the all-knowing, all-powerful promised Messiah, our King, who brings you and me peace. Jesus was in complete control on that first Palm Sunday.  He knew what events would take place during the coming week.  Yet, moved by his great love for sinful mankind, including you and me, Jesus rode on.  As we read in the Second Lesson from God’s Word this morning, our Savior Jesus willingly, “made himself nothing…he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”  Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, would willingly go to the cross to win the forgiveness of all sins.  The body and blood of Jesus brings peace between God and his creatures.  All sin is washed away.

As forgiven children of our Father in heaven, you and I know that our loving Savior is watching over us day after day, he knows what is happening in your day-to-day life, and he is using his almighty power to rule over all things for your eternal good until that he day he calls us to his side in his kingdom in heaven.

This coming week, you and I are blessed to have many opportunities to gather together for worship.  We will gather together here in God’s house and hear about the great love of our Savior-God.  As we begin this Holy Week on this Palm Sunday morning you and I ask, “Who is this that comes in the name of the Lord?”  The answer from God’s Word?  Jesus is our all-powerful, all-knowing promised Messiah, our King, who brings you and me peace. Amen.