A sermon on Zechariah 9:9-10 for Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018.
A hush falls over the crowd. Everyone holds their breath. The suspense grows as to what will happen next. Some cannot even bring themselves to watch the outcome. The play unfolds. The ball floats through the air. The player takes up a position right under the ball. It falls right into his glove. The crowd erupts. The stadium goes from complete silence to deafening cheers. The home team won. The fans rejoice, dare we say rejoice greatly, at what has just been accomplished.
All of us have times in our life when we rejoice. We cannot contain our excitement from what has just happened. There is cheering, hands waving in the air, high fives given to others, and emotions run high. We rejoice. We shout with great joy. Today, we come to church rejoicing. Oh, we do that every week, but this week is different from all others. We hear it in our songs. Our lessons resound with the good news.
Jesus Gives Us Reasons to Rejoice
- He comes as our King.
- He comes bringing peace.
The streets of Jerusalem stirred with a great buzz on this day. Usually the people went from vendor to vendor buying their goods for the day. Neighbors visited with each other. Various sacrifices took place at the temple. Today, however, something seemed different. It was as if something amazing would soon happen.
All the people lined the streets. They looked off in the distance. Someone was coming. Was this royalty visiting Jerusalem on this day? Was a prominent religious leader making their way into the city square? The shouts from the crowd intensified. The words from Zechariah echoed in the people’s minds, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem” (Zechariah 9:9)!
The shouts reached a joyous overtone. All of a sudden they saw the reason for the outburst, “Look! Your King is coming to you” (Zechariah 9:9). All of a sudden everyone did a double take. Did their eyes fool them? Was the King still far off in the distance? A king should enter a city riding on a white steed or being pulled in a golden chariot. Soldiers would be leading the way giving the visit a festive pomp and circumstance.
Zechariah described this King differently, “He is righteous and brings salvation. He is humble and is riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9) This King came with twelve ordinary men, who looked very confused at the royal welcome the citizens gave to their Master. Jesus rode into the city not on a stately steed but on a lowly donkey. Even though he did not look the part, the people welcomed him as a King. They cut down palm branches. They placed them in the road before him. Shouts of hosanna resounded from the people’s lips.
This indeed was a mighty King. Jesus, the promised Messiah, entered into Jerusalem. He deserved those shouts of adoration. The Jews have waited centuries to welcomes their Savior in such a manner. Jesus came with great power. More importantly he came with righteousness. He came bringing salvation.
This made Jesus much different from all the other kings. When earthly kings would only be concerned about peace at their boarders and amassing wealth, our heavenly King brings salvation with him. He came to battle the spiritual forces to bring us the forgiveness of sins.
The world misses out on the great scene Zechariah prophesies. The world wants a king that will make a big splash in this world. They want a demonstration of power and might. They fail to get excited when they see Jesus coming on a young donkey.
Our King comes with a different reign. Just as at his birth he came in a lowly stable, his entrance into the royal city of Jerusalem comes in a meek way. Do not let the humbleness fool anyone. This King possesses great power. This King is none other than the Son of God.
The culmination of the King’s work would soon be done. The Father’s plan of salvation would come to fruition. Jesus rides into Jerusalem with a single mission on his mind. Our King would save us not just from worldly foes, but he would save us from our sins.
Very soon this King would hear a different cry from the crowd. No longer would hosannas flow freely, but the crowd would yell, “Crucify!” Good kings will lay down their life for their subjects. Our King did this in the most valiant way. Jesus went to the cross to bring salvation for us. He crushed the head of our enemy, the devil. He brings salvation for the whole world.
For all of this we rejoice. Jesus gives us salvation. He comes riding into Jerusalem as a triumphant King. We lift up our voices in praise to our King, because he comes bringing peace to us.
As kings rule in this world, we would expect them to use weapons of war for his rule. Once again Zechariah prophesied our King would be different, “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. The battle bow will be taken away, and he will proclaim peace to the nations” (Zechariah 9:10). Jesus brought peace. He would not rule with fear. Jesus rules with peace, with fairness, with grace.
We long for peace in our life. We struggle with the battles waging in our life. Our feelings are up and down. Some days we do not feel like ourselves. Our mind is slow. Our relationships erode. Our spouse wants a divorce because they fell in love with someone else. We battle anger. We grow distrustful of others. We feel like everyone is against us.
If all of this were not enough, the spiritual forces wage on around us. We do not honor God’s name as it should be honored. By our actions and words we chip away at the holiness of God’s beautiful name. We grow timid in our use of the Means of Grace. We realize that it has been awhile since we have been to church, or we find ourselves only going through the motions of prayer and praise. Peace seems so far from all of us.
Jesus, our King, brings peace. He goes to the cross to suffer in our place. His blood drips down washing our sins away. We have peace. We have joy. Our worth no longer depends on our feelings. God shows us our worth, and he calls us his child. We find comfort in him even when all others desert us. We find forgiveness for all our sins of thought, word, and deed in Christ and his death.
We have peace with God. We have peace with our King whose rule and reign extends from sea to sea. Rejoice today! Jesus comes to bring peace in our life. Jesus rules in this world with his peace and mercy.
Rejoice! Do not be afraid to give it a little more gusto today than other Sundays. Our praises ring out. We rejoice for our King comes. We rejoice for our King brings peace! Jesus gives us reasons to rejoice. Amen.