Roger's Postings

Friday, April 15, 2011

Matthew 21:1-11.                   Who is this Jesus!!                              17/4/11

 “ As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,  saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:  "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"  The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!"  When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"  The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

Who is this Jesus fellow, riding into town – into the hearts and lives of people?  Who is this one who is receiving shouts of Hosanna as he comes to town? What are we to make of him? Certainly, this Jesus and his coming to Jerusalem has turned the world upside down. Certainly, his coming has evoked all sorts of different responses from the people of his day, in Jerusalem, and down through the ages since.

Here this morning it is good for us to ponder over all of this; for we too are in danger of having the same attitudes as those of Jesus’ day and missing the whole point of who Jesus is and what he had come for. Too often we also want a Jesus of our own making who will be and do what we want him to be and do. Too often today, so many, even who claim to be Christian, have missed, or more to the point have chosen to ignore, the real Jesus and what he came to this earth and to Jerusalem for. So as we reflect on the attitudes of those in Jerusalem, let us see in ourselves and in our community around us those same attitudes. Then let us understand anew who this Jesus is and what he came for.

Now to begin with, we need to appreciate the fact that the people of that day were looking forward to and longing for the Messiah to come. They were seeking after the one God said he would send who would establish his kingdom. As they were under Roman rule, this was something that was very strong in their thinking at that time. But we need to recognise that they were looking for an earthly king who would drive out the Romans and establish a huge world-wide kingdom.

Then along with that, we have this Jesus just having raised Lazarus from the dead. So this along with all the other miracles that he had performed suggested to them that here was certainly someone who would be good to have as their king. Can you imagine it; if you get sick this guy can make it all better; we don’t have to work for our food, for this Jesus can just provide plenty of it; and yes, we don’t even have to worry about dying because this Jesus can bring us back to life again. Just the sort of king we want. Give us health, wealth and happiness without us having to lift a finger.

Is it any wonder that they shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!"  Is it any wonder that they were yelling out; ‘Save us!’ ‘Help us!’ ‘Give us all of this!’

And today are we any different? What do we want Jesus in our lives for? Far too often it is so that he can give us what we want so that we can comfortably cruise through this life. We even have it proclaimed from our churches; it is all about health, wealth and happiness; here and now. Gimme! Gimme! Give me it all; and if I don’t have it then God is the biggest mongrel out. We keep missing the point, over and over again. That is what he cried for, when he came down the hill into Jerusalem. ‘If only you knew what it is that makes for peace. If only ....

But they, like us today; when he did not do what they wanted him to; ‘Crucify him. Crucify him’. Yes these same people who were proclaiming him king, a few days later, was shouting for his blood. Get rid of him! He is not the god that we want. We don’t want a god who makes claims on us, we just want someone who will give us what we want; when we want it.

If only they knew what makes for peace. If only, we had more sense.

Yet surprisingly, Jesus still comes riding into town, even though he knew that this was the attitude. Yes, he chooses carefully, when and how he would come into town. He comes on the foal of donkey, to clearly portray to the people that he was not coming as an earthly warrior king. Also that he has come to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet. His coming was to fulfil the many promises that were given in the Old Testament to God’s coming to save his people.

He comes as they are about to celebrate the Passover: that time when they remember that God delivered them from the Egyptians all those many years ago. The Sacrificial Lamb of Passover was also given the significance, that they had forgiveness for their failures to live and be the people that God expected them to be. The sacrificing of the lamb was understood as having true significance because it was connected to the sacrifice of the Lamb that God would send, which would take away the sin of the world. All of this was the highlight of the days ahead. Jesus has come to be the true Passover Lamb which takes away the sin of the world. But the people failed to recognise all this. They failed to even want it.

Along with that, he comes as the Son of David; as the promised Messiah who would come to establish God’s kingdom. He is even acknowledged as being sent from the Lord. All this, being exactly the case, even though the people did not understand the true significance of it all. Yes, here was God himself, come to do what was necessary for God’s true kingdom to be established. They have every right to hail him as Lord and King.

Here was the Messiah who has come to bring peace to humanity; to you and me: A peace which passes all understanding and allows us to be at one with God without fear and trepidation. A peace which allows us to come into God’s presence, despite our sinfulness. Here is the one who is come to take the burden of life from us; and allow us to live with confidence and hope; knowing that now, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Can you imagine what all this means for us. All because of this Jesus and what he has done for us, we can go forward in peace. Through our baptism, we are connected to this Jesus and therefore can have that absolute assurance that we have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. We don’t have to wrestle with the uncertainty of whether we have done enough, or have enough faith or anything else. This Jesus has done it all for us. So again, we don’t have to have miracles; or great, health, wealth and happiness, for we are connected to him who has won everything important for us. This Jesus and what he has done for us is absolutely unbelievable: beyond our wildest expectations. Despite our sinfulness he has done it all for us.

So now we don’t just hail him as King, we live under his amazing kingship. We live for him; we live according to his rules; he becomes the centre of our world; not us. He is Lord of us and all that we do. He is around whom everything gravitates. His Word directs all that we say and do. We don’t continually direct who God should be and what he should do for us. Who do we think we are? He knows what makes for peace; for he is the Prince of Peace. He is Lord over all lords and King over all kings. So we listen to him and we follow him, even when he says that means taking up our cross and having our difficulties in this life.

Here again let us be quite clear that it is his death on the cross, which we focus on next Friday, which is absolutely central to who he is and what he has done for us. There alone is what gives us the peace, hope and salvation that we need. So much of the garbage that is focussed on by many Christians is the same as it was for those people of Jesus day. We have taken our focus off of that which is central; and we are listening to all kinds of rubbish that puts us back under pressure and uncertainty; a constant looking for something more and something better.

No, here in Jesus and what he came to Jerusalem to do is what is vital for us all. May we all this coming Easter weekend take the opportunity to reflect on; and most importantly be further strengthened and enlivened by our Lord as we celebrate with holy awe this Jesus and what he came to do as king for you and me. May we truly sing our: "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!"  as we appreciate who he truly is and what he came to do, for us. Again, to him alone then be all glory and honour, now and always.  AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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