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  • Writer's picturePastor Olson

Palm Sunday

There is no one whose sins are so serious that God won’t forgive them.

“Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Amen.”

Zechariah 9:9-10

Jesus mounted the colt. And the parade of disciples moved slowly onward from Bethany toward Jerusalem. Another parade of people headed out from Jerusalem toward the Mount of Olives to meet Jesus. Jesus had become wildly famous. Especially now! Recently he had raised Lazarus from the dead and everyone was talking about it. Now that Jesus was coming to town – on such an important day when so many Jews were making their way to the city for the festival anyway – it was a good time to rally supporters to appoint Jesus their leader in an uprising against Rome. Jesus had the potential to free the Jews from Roman domination. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

Excitement and joy filled the hearts of the people as they watched Jesus make his way into the city of Jerusalem. Some spread their cloaks on the road and others scattered palm branches for the donkey to ride upon in tribute to their new King. On this day, nothing could stop the masses from giving to Jesus the honor and glory that is due him. In fact, the Bible says that if the people were silenced, the stones would cry out in praises to the King!

Sadly, Jesus didn’t prove to be the kind of king most of the people were looking for. That became painfully obvious when he was arrested and condemned to die. Then the masses turned against him and shouted, “Crucify him!” Jesus is a different kind of king alright. And, we will learn today, that his kingdom is much different too! So today we consider this thought:

Behold the King!

  1. A different kind of king

  2. A different kind of kingdom

Zechariah was writing to Jews who were depressed and discouraged. Thy had returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity, but their country wasn’t anything like they remembered it. Their temple had been destroyed and they had lost their desire to rebuild. No work had been done on the building for over 14 years. There are all kinds of excuses for their laziness. They were involved in skirmishes with neighboring nations. Money was tight. But mostly they had lost hope in God’s promises to send them a Savior. At such a down time in Israel’s history, God send them the prophet Zechariah to give them hope.

He gives them hope by urging them to “rejoice greatly!” Quite literally, he urges them to jump for joy! Why? Their King is coming! He reminds them though that their king is a different kind of king. He is “righteous and having salvation.” His righteousness surpasses anything you will ever see! He not only is able to make fair and perfect judgments. He is absolutely perfect in every way! He will be perfect in the eyes of men. The psalmist says (145:7), “they will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” More importantly, he will be perfect in the eyes of God: “This is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord Our Righteousness.” (Jer 23:6)

This king has salvation! The LORD told the people 500 years before the time of Christ that Jesus will win! Zechariah says he has salvation with him, so we know the outcome of Christ’s campaign in Jerusalem before the final battles are even fought! What a king! God assures us that Jesus will succeed in the face of immense suffering and the cruelest forms of temptations. He will succeed through the horrors of hellish anguish and the excruciating pain of crucifixion. He is a different kind of king regarding the tools he has to rule: righteousness and salvation!

He is also a different kind of king regarding his appearance. He didn’t ride into the royal city in the customary splendor of ancient kings. There is no display of military might and armed forces. There is only humility. There is a singular man riding upon an unbroken colt following his mother-donkey – a borrowed colt and donkey at that! He doesn’t look at all like a battle tested warrior general. Nor does he look like a spoiled heir apparent to a royal dynasty. He looks like a servant who has work to do!

He is just the kind of king we need! We have none of the qualities he possesses! We have no righteousness. In fact, the Bible says, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” to God! There is nothing to our credit by which God could be pleased with us! If he came only in righteousness, he is certainly justified in condemning every one of us to an eternity in hell. We cannot earn salvation. No matter how hard we try we will never be anything more than sinners who fall short of the glory of God. Jesus is the king we need because he is righteous; and he credits his righteousness to our account by faith. He has salvation; and he came to seek and to save sinners like you and me. That’s our King! He is different! He is our Savior!

Gentleness or humility are foreign concepts to our selfish, self-serving natures. We race through life to squeeze out of life all we can get. But Jesus? He gave himself for our salvation. He spent his life in humble service to sinners. Washing the feet of his disciples, humbling himself to death, even death on a cross! That’s our King! He is different. He is our Savior!

Behold the king! Not only is he different, but so is his kingdom. The Lord tells us what his kingdom will be like: “I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem.” Ephraim is often used as a synonym for the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Even though the Northern Kingdom no longer exists, the Lord speaks about his kingdom as a reality. He talks about Israel as though it were a united kingdom again. In God’s kingdom there is no need for chariots and war horses. There is no need for weapons of national defense. “The battle bow will be broken.” There are no wars left to fight! The kingdom that Christ rules has no enemies to fight anymore!

Christ’s kingdom is unique! Jesus fought and won the war against all enemies foreign (the forces of evil around us and in the world in which we live) and domestic (the forces of evil that live in our sinful hearts and minds)! He battled against our enemies every moment of every day of his life. The final battle was held on the battlefield known as Calvary and he won that battle too by raising his lifeless body to live again three days after Satan had thought he had won with his death on the cross. Now Christ’s kingdom is done with war! It is a kingdom of peace.

Jesus told Pontius Pilate that his kingdom is within the hearts of his believers. Jesus reigns supreme in our hearts. Jesus talks about his kingdom when he told his disciples, “My peace I leave with you.” We are done with war! When temptations come into our lives, we have the power to resist temptation, “standing firm in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:9) This is a kingdom that is at peace with God and with man. It is a peace that surpasses understanding. It is the peace of forgiveness of sins for the sake of our King. Yes, this is a different kind of kingdom.

And the kingdom continues to grow! Listen” He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Our weapon of warfare is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God! It is all we have and all we need. Jesus causes his kingdom to grow and flourish through his Word alone! Jesus commands us to share the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth because his rule extends to every corner of the world. There is no one for whom Jesus did not bleed and die. There is no one whose sins are so serious that God won’t forgive them. There is no one who needs to live outside the kingdom of God. Share the gospel! It is for everyone!

Behold the King! He is a different kind of king alright. He loves you as his brother; and he serves you as your slave so that you might live with him forever! Behold the king! He has a different kind of kingdom that’s for sure! It is a kingdom without budgets and buildings. It is a kingdom without selfishness and status. It is a kingdom of peace. This peace became real when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to become the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. Therefore, let us join in festive joy to sing: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”


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