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                           SERMON NOTES

                                        Palm Sunday

                                      Matthew 21:1-9



Matthew 21:1-9 (KJV)   And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, {2} Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose <them>, and bring <them> unto me. {3} And if any <man> say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. {4} All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, {5} Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. {6} And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, {7} And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set <him> thereon. {8} And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed <them> in the way. {9} And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed <is> he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.


The first thing we see in this Gospel is that Jesus went to the very place where opposition to Him was greatest.  Luther makes much of the phrase:  go into the village which is over against you.  Some would see it as only a reference to a place, but Luther also saw it as expressing where we should take the Gospel. 


I was at the Brown County jail, talking to someone in the midst of a crisis, talking about sin and the road back.  Sometimes it's easier to see sinfulness when we are behind bars. 


Everyone wants to be where the Gospel is easily accepted with gratitude.  But God's purpose is also to break barriers down with the Word, so the Word must go where it is not welcome.  As hateful as Jerusalem was to the Son of God, He still made converts while He was there.  Those who wanted to kill Him had the opportunity to hear the Word of God from the Son of God.  That shows us how merciful God is, to give people another chance, in the midst of their worst sins.

But to those who die without faith in Christ, there is no forgiveness.


"Learn then from this Gospel what takes place when God begins to make us godly, and what the first step is in becoming godly.  There is no other beginning than that your king comes to you and begins to work in you.  It is done in this way:  The Gospel must be the first, this must be preached and heard.  In it you hear and learn how all your works count for nothing before God and that everything is sinful that you work and do.  Your king must first be in you and rule you.  Behold, here is the beginning of your salvation; you relinquish your works and despair of yourself, because you hear and see that all you do is sin and amounts to nothing, as the Gospel tells you, and you receive your king in faith, cling to him, implore his grace and find consolation in his mercy alone."

            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983, I,  p. 26.   


What we must give up, and this is a daily process, is our opposition to God.  We must daily drown the Old Adam by reflecting on God's Word in the 10 Commandments, and by

asking God's forgiveness and guidance.


It is always God who finds us through the Gospel.  The message of mercy and forgiveness does not and cannot start with us.  Nothing within us deserves or desires God's salvation at first.  God opens our eyes to our sinfulness and our need for a Savior.  Jesus makes us worthy of salvation and makes us desire to hear His Word.


"For you do not find Him; He finds you.  For the preachers come from Him, not from you.  Your faith comes from Him, not from you.  And everything that works faith within you comes from Him, not from you."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 345. Matthew 21:1‑9.


II.  Jesus Hailed as Messianic King


When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that He was the Messiah.  As I said before, the crowds followed Him from Bethany where He raised Lazarus, a powerful and well known man.  The news raced ahead to Jerusalem, so that crowds followed Him from Bethany and surged out to meet Him, to see the Son of God and the man He raised from the dead.  Can you imagine the excitement which the entire city felt at that moment.


Matthew 21:15-16 (KJV)   And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, {16} And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?


One will always find that love for the Gospel will be matched by hatred against the Gospel.  Love of pure doctrine will be countered with hatred of pure doctrine. 


Many will find the Gospel exciting and wonderful at first, because it is, but they will not bear the cross which Jesus bore.  Or they will be taken away by the cares of their possessions.  Or they will wilt under persecution.  The Gospel is thinly sown.


The question is:  If we are around for Palm Sunday, will we also be there for Good Friday?  That is, will we still love the Son of God when His cross bears down on us, when people despise us, when we suffer economic loss because of it?


Can we help others bear the cross as well?

Do we send notes to the sick and the lonely?

Do visit those who have special needs? 

Do we encourage our friends when they have been abandoned?