Christ the King: Bridegroom of the Daughter of Zion - John 12:12-19 / Pr. Ted Giese / Palm Sunday
"Christ the King: Bridegroom of the Daughter of Zion" Palm Sunday - Pr. Ted Giese / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / March 29th 2015 (John 12:12-19)
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and had been done to Him. The crowd that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet Him was that they heard He had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Jerusalem was filling up with people from near and far all coming for the Passover Festival and most of them would be staying until the Feats of Pentecost 50 days after Passover. This means that there were people coming down from Galilee, people who would have seen Jesus perform miracles first hand. Like Jesus' disciples, some of the pilgrims to Jerusalem that Passover may well have been there up in Galilee when Jesus fed 5,000 men from a little boys five barley loaves and two fish.
Saint John, one of Jesus' disciples, in His Gospel, in Chapter 6, tells us how on the day when Jesus fed the 5,000, Jesus perceived that the crowd was, "about to come and take Him by force to make Him king," so Jesus withdrew away from them to the mountain by Himself. On Palm Sunday as Jesus rode into Jerusalem there was no withdrawing away, the time had arrived for the king to come, not a bread king but a bread and wine king - a body and blood king - a sacrificial king - a peculiar king who would "emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant," a king who "humbled Himself," and while the crowed did not know it yet a king who would be "obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Saint John tells us how he and the rest of Jesus', "disciples did not understand [at first, what was happening on that day - that we would later call Palm Sunday], but when Jesus was glorified [And when John uses the word glorified he means when Jesus was crucified, when He was nailed to the cross], then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and had been done to Him." Suddenly the crowd with their palm branches, the crowd with their calls of "Hosanna!" Save us now! Their cry of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” all made sense, it all came together. As Saint John later stood at the foot of the cross on Good Friday and saw Jesus crowned with thorns, as he saw Pilate's note placed above Jesus' sacred wounded head, above His gore thorny crown, the note that said "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” it all made sense, it all came together.
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”
The crowd that first Palm Sunday called out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” not because of the feeding of the 5,000 up in Galilee - no, the large crowd took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Jesus because they had heard about an even greater miracle, they had heard about Jesus' raising of Lazarus from the dead, four days dead and Jesus raised Lazarus up out of his tomb.
If Jesus could do that, and He had, and there were witnesses testifying to it, than certainly Jesus could save me. It was the thought on the minds of the crowd and it gave them hope - they didn't know how Jesus would save them but they hoped that this man would be a king to save them, to save Israel, to save Jerusalem - the city called the "daughter of Zion," as Jesus rode into old Jerusalem their fear was melting away. God had saved them so long ago from Pharaoh, God had sent Moses to rescue them from Egyptian captivity and Passover celebrated this ... maybe just maybe God was sending this Jesus to rescue them from the Romans who were oppressing them? Hosanna! Save us now!
Scripture uses another image of Jesus, we've been talking about Jesus as king, but the Bible also talks about Jesus as Bridegroom. During Holy Week, after Palm Sunday in the days leading up to the Passover and what we would later call Good Friday, another one of Jesus' disciples Saint Matthew, the tax collector, records how Jesus was teaching them on the Mount of Olives. While He was teaching them Jesus told them the parable of the wise and foolish virgins:
Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."
Those of you who are married, did you plan the date of the wedding? The time? The Place? Did you invite your guests? What if the Groom knew the day and the hour and the time and the place but the Bride didn't? the guests didn't? Think about that, ladies think about that, normally at weddings the Service doesn't start until the bride arrives it could be 20 min 30 min late, an hour late, you could wait a whole day, it doesn't start until the bride shows up, until the bride is ready, until she's perfect. What if it were the reverse and you just had to be ready as the bride? You'd be cooking in your wedding dress waiting for the groom to show up, right? Your bridal party would be sitting on the couch with their bouquet waiting for the groom to show up! This is the picture we have here, and this is what Jesus is talking about.
Jesus began His public ministry and He knew that it would end with Him coming to Jerusalem where He would die for His Bride the Church (both the faithful who had been waiting for their king to come humble and sitting on a donkey and the faithful who were to come, like us, like you). Jesus knew the day and the hour. The crowd who met Him with their palm branches, with their loud Hosannas, those were ones who were like the wise virgins who rose up and trimmed their lamps when they heard the cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ The Pharisees who were generally speaking unprepared for Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem, when they saw Him coming said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him.” They were like the foolish virgins who had waited for God but when He came they had no oil in their lamp. They didn't even recognize the Groom when He showed up.
You have one group of people who see Jesus do things like feed 5,000 from a little boys five barley loaves and two fish, who see and hear of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and they have oil in their lamp - they have faith, they cry out "Hosanna!" Save us now! Then on the other hand you have people like many of the Pharisees who see and hear the same kind of things and they have no oil in their lamps, no palm branches in their hands, no "Hosanna!" Save us now! on their lips. Instead they work all the harder to kill this king, to kill the bridegroom, this Jesus. This week we will see this unfold in our services.
Holy week is a time of faith for we Christians, for others in the world it is an inconvenience. (We have to have Good Friday Hours - we have to change what we do) We all look upon it with the same eyes, yet some eyes are wise and see Jesus for who He is: King, Bridegroom of the bride the church, Saviour of the nations, humble sacrifice for all the sins of humanity past, present and future. Others look upon Jesus with foolish eyes unable to see Him for who He is.
The men, women and children on Palm Sunday faithfully watched and waited for the arrival of Jesus, He came to them in an hour that none expected - we, day in and day out, also keep a watch for the return of Jesus who will come to us not on a donkey but riding on the clouds of heaven, and we, like them, know neither the day nor the hour. In the mean time we trust Jesus at His word when He promises to come to us in the bread and in the wine, with His Body and His Blood in Holy Communion, a mini picture of The Last Day when we shall see Jesus face to face, as clear as day, as they saw Him ride into Old Jerusalem, only He will be the resurrected Jesus, not the Jesus on the way to the cross but the Jesus on the way from the empty tomb.
On that Day the Old Jerusalem will be gone and there will be a New Jerusalem, on the Last Day, the Day of Judgment, Saint John records, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
So Palm Sunday is the coming of the king, it's also the coming of the Bridegroom, it is the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem to put an end to death with His death, to cry tears for the whole world in the Garden of Gethsemane so that tears in heaven will be wiped away, it is the beginning of His victory over grief and pain. With every stride of the donkey the former things were passing away in Jesus and the new was coming to His faithful.
This week and each day in your Christian life, watch and pray, for His return - remember what He has done with Joy and keep the faith. All Jesus did He did for you, to save you from eternal death, to give you life and to forgive your sin. Because of Jesus you can now along with the first people of Palm Sunday say "Hosanna!" Save us now! and you can trust and faithfully know that He has done this for you. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 John 6:9
 Philippians 2:7-8
 John 19:19
 Matthew 25:1-13
 Matthew 26:64
 Revelation 21:1-4