Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion

April 5, 2020 - John 12:13

Palms wave. A royal carpet of garments lines the road into Jerusalem. A crowd joyously proclaims, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the king of Israel,” as Jesus rides into the city of David. The Messiah has come. The Christ is here. He now enters the holy city – where God promised to dwell with His people. Hype and expectation reach a fever pitch. Now is the time for deliverance. Now is the time for salvation. Now comes the one to redeem Israel. The King is here to claim His throne. Just as Solomon once rode into the city to sit on the throne of His father, David, so Jesus does on this glorious day. What the crowd proclaims is still called out by the Church 2000 years later.


We cry out hosanna to Jesus, because He can and does answer our plea. That’s right, hosanna is a plea, it’s a prayer. It means “help us” or save us.” The Palm Sunday crowd calls to Jesus for salvation confessing that He is the heir to David’s throne. He is the Messiah.

The crowd has expectations of deliverance. They hope in Him for the redemption of Israel. They look to Him to rescue them from oppression and save them from their enemies. They anticipate that He will re-establish David’s throne, rebuild the Kingdom, redeem Israel, and make the land her rightful possession once again. Yet, just days later, Jesus will be standing before Pontius Pilate, bound and bloodied, declaring, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

The people hope in the right one, but their expectations are misplaced. They’re looking at the worldly side of things. A political kingdom, a political ruler, a deliverance that merely applies to this world. They believe that when Jesus rides into Jerusalem, the city will finally be saved from Roman occupation. God’s people will once again rule the city and her glory will return.

Sometimes we fall into the same trap, thinking that the salvation we need is salvation from the things of this world. We may hope in Him for the redemption of our personal sufferings. We may look to Him to rescue us from the oppression of cancer, heart disease, or corona virus. We may anticipate that He’ll make us prosperous in this life, or at least take away worldly burdens. Some may even hope that He’ll make this land a chosen nation of sorts. In other words, we can easily point to the disciples and others in the Gospels who didn’t understand Jesus’ Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem, all the while when we focus on the temporary – the things of this world – we do the very same thing.

Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem Palm Sunday in order to sit on David’s earthly throne. Jesus didn’t ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to make our lives better in worldly ways. Jesus rode into Jerusalem for a very different purpose – something we don’t always like to think about. He entered the city to die. I mean, He didn’t hide the fact. He says, “The Son of Man comes not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus declares, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Clearly, Jesus proclaims something different about His kingdom. It doesn’t come through worldly force. It doesn’t deal only with temporal matters. Jesus’ kingdom is a heavenly kingdom, an eternal kingdom, and He will suffer to redeem it.

Five days after Palm Sunday, Jesus ascends to His throne. Above Him, a royal decree reads, “The King of the Jews.” Adorning His head is a crown – made with thorns. He’s nailed to the wood – a criminal’s punishment. He bleeds. He struggles to breathe. He’s in agony. A crowd mocks Him. He doesn’t look much like a king. Even so, He is the King delivering His people. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” When we look to this King, when we gave upon Him by faith, we are saved. He is the Messiah. The Son of God. The Lord Himself.

Jesus ushers in a different salvation than that expected by the people. He ushers in a bigger, grander salvation than we often look for. Jesus Christ is the Savior from sin, which enslaves the world more than can ever be known or understood by us. Jesus Christ redeems His creation from death, which came into the world through sin. On the cross, Jesus fulfills the prayer for hosanna – He saves us from sin and death. He opens paradise to sinners.

Therefore, you are forgiven dear friends in Christ and you have life. Life now and life forevermore. Nothing can take that away from you. You may die today. You may die tomorrow. You may die years from now. But no matter when death comes for you, you can be assured of your life in Christ. No one can take that away from you, because He has answered your cry of hosanna. He has come in the name of the Lord – God in flesh – to give you and peace and rest that you really can’t get anywhere else. Jesus redeems, saves, rescues, heals, comforts, conquers, and blesses you His people.

We poor sinners implore the Lord God of heaven and earth, our maker and judge for help and salvation – Jesus is the answer. Jesus is that salvation. Jesus rides into the holy city on a donkey because He fulfills the messianic promises of David’s son to rule on the throne forever. Yet, David’s Son is also David’s Lord’s – who accomplished salvation for all who believe. You are receivers of that salvation. “All glory, laud, and honor to You, Redeemer, King.” Amen.