Palm Sunday 2023
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 2, 2023
Zechariah 9:9-10, Philippians 2:5-11, Matthew 21:1-11

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Matthew 16:13–18 (ESV)  13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

            There is great confusion about who Jesus is and what He has come to do.  Peter seems to get it as to the who, but then right after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God Jesus tells the disciples for the first time the what. … Matthew 16:21 (ESV) 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 

            Peter rejects this and tells Jesus, Matthew 16:22 (ESV) 22 … “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”  Even Peter does not understand what Jesus has come to do. 

            Jesus tells the disciples a second time Matthew 17:22–23 (ESV) 22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. 

            Now, down in Jericho, Jesus tells His disciples for the third time, Matthew 20:18–19 (ESV) 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”  Jesus is down in Jordan valley, on His way to Jerusalem traveling with His 12 disciples, a crowd of people, two formerly blind men that He just healed, and likely Zebedee’s wife, Salome, the mother of James and John.  It is a hard, 18 mile desert wilderness hike from Jericho to the Mount of Olives going from 800 feet below sea level to 3,000 feet above.  The Good Shepherd likely leads this strange parade through Wadi Qelt also known as the Valley of the Shadow of Death on His way out of Jericho. 

            Jesus walks the 18 miles up hill to the top of the Mount of Olives and then he gets a donkey to ride downhill into Jerusalem. What sense does that make?  Well, riding the donkey is not about transportation, riding the donkey is about fulfilling the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 (ESV)  9  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

            This is a ridiculous looking spectacle.  A full grown man is riding a small donkey down a steep hill covered with clothing and palm branches.  He then rides the little donkey through a gate into the holy city of Jerusalem.  What must be going through Jesus mind?  He alone knows all of what is coming that week and along the way there are little signs of what is to come.  On the back of the donkey there is a pattern of dark hair in the shaped of a cross.  As Jesus rides down the Mount of Olives He rides past the Garden of Gethsemane which, on Thursday, will be the place of His passionate prayer and betrayal and arrest. Jesus rides His little donkey down the hill from the east and likely enters the city through the Eastern Gate; the Golden gate into the temple grounds.  This is the gate spoken of in Ezekiel’s prophecy of a new temple, Ezekiel 43:1–2 (ESV) 1 Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory.” 

            Surely now the people of Jerusalem clearly know who Jesus is and what He has come to do.  They will know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  He is the King of the Jews coming to be crowned.  He is the Savior coming to be the sacrifice for sin. Surely they will see and they will know.

            Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the King of the Jews. He tells this to the people.  He shows this to the people in His miracles and signs.  He basically declares, I am the Christ and I am now fulfilling prophecy.  And the people welcome Him by waving palm branches as a sign of victory and shouting, Matthew 21:9 (ESV) 9  “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  Hosanna means, “Please Lord, please save us!” 

            Surely now the people of Jerusalem clearly know who Jesus is and what He has come to do.  They will know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  He is the King of the Jews coming to be crowned.  He is the Savior coming to be the sacrifice for sin. Surely they will see and they will know.

            Matthew 21:10–11 (ESV) 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”  As the disciples reported earlier, “some say He is a prophet.”

            Jesus is showing and telling His disciples and the crowds who He is and what He has come to do, but they do not understand.  People are confused.  After Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey colt as Messiah and King the people think He is just a prophet from Nazareth.  The week will continue with confusion.  Jesus teaches that tax collectors and prostitutes have faith because they believed John the Baptist’s teaching about Jesus.  He teaches that the religious leaders have rejected John’s teachings and they have rejected Jesus.  . 

            Jesus teaches the crowds and warns the religious leaders but confusion continues.  What would it take for people to understand who Jesus is and what He has come to do.  Jesus does what He said He would do.  He goes to Jerusalem, He suffers many things from the elders, chief priests and scribes, He is killed.  On the third day He is raised from the dead.  Surely, this will be such a clear sign it will cause all to believe.  But, tragically, so many people are so caught up in their own situations, their own power and money and control that they miss Jesus.  The busyness of life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke out their faith in Jesus. This is so much of a problem today in our world…in our lives.  There are so many forces pulling for your time and attention and money that Jesus can be bumped from being Savior and Lord, down to a holiday tradition, down to helper, down to buddy, down to jewelry accessory, down to irrelevance, down to an enemy.  The devil, the world and your sinful nature conspire to rob you of faith in Jesus as your Savior and King.  This evil triad works to confuse your understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for you. 

And so, because you are aware of all the forces working against true faith, you come here each week to confess your helplessness, to remember your baptism, to receive the gift of forgiveness in Jesus’ words, and in His Body and His Blood.  You come here because you know the truth.  Jesus is your King.  Jesus is your Lord.  Jesus is your Savior from sin.  Jesus is who He says He is and you are His cherished treasure.  He went to Jerusalem riding on the colt of donkey to sacrifice Himself… for you. 

Today you remember Jesus’ entering Jerusalem to the waving of Palm Branches in victory and shouts of Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest!  As the week ends with Jesus on trial, sentenced to death and crucified you will see more clues to His true identity.  He is crowned, He is given royal robes.  Pilate declares Jesus of Nazareth to be the King of the Jews.  As Jesus breathes His last the Roman centurion and his guard witness the earth shake and all that is happening and they are filled with awe and declare, Matthew 27:54 (ESV) 54 …“Truly this was the Son of God!” 

And even this clear confession is still a bit confused because, as we will see next Sunday, it is not that He “was the Son of God!”  Jesus is the Son of God.  He is the resurrected Son of God from eternity to eternity and He has given you eternal life with Him.  Amen. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s