Slow Patient Promise Fulfilled / Sermon / Palm Sunday April 13th, 2014 / John 12 / Pastor Ted A. Giese
Slow Patient Promise Fulfilled / Palm Sunday / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / April 13th 2014 / 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. Jean-Jacques Rousseau a Christian Philosopher once said "He who is most slow in making a promise is the most faithful in the performance of it." Following the fall into sin as God was examining Adam and Eve and Satan the serpent, He began His promise to them of a Saviour, one who would save Adam and Eve from the sin they had fallen into, one who would save us all. In speaking with the Serpent who had deceived them God promises to Satan the serpent "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Some would say 'This isn't much of a promise ... I need a bit more to go on.' Thankfully the LORD didn't stop right there, yet God is - in fact - slow in revealing all the details about how this would take place but as the quote says "He who is most slow in making a promise is the most faithful in the performance of it." God through the Old Testament slowly provided more and more of the promise of Salvation just as He was, by human standards, slowly and faithfully performing the work of keeping it. In faith Adam and Eve and all those who carried the growing promise with them needed to be likewise faithful and to daily remember that the LORD is gracious and merciful slow to anger also and abounding in steadfast love. Our Old Testament lesson fills in some more details in the way in which God will fulfill His promise when the prophet Zechariah says to the people:
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,
He sat down on the back of the donkey, he knew that he was going to be anointed king, he knew he was going to the places where the priests were, that by their work they would make him king before the people. He rode on his father's donkey (It was his father's donkey because his father had dominion over everything in Israel) and as he sat down on that donkey he knew that his life was about to change. He was about to ride into the centre of the storm and in just a short period of time he'd ascend to his throne and from that place he'd rule as king. This is the story of ... Solomon the son of King David. You will find it in 1 Kings Chapter 1. The prophet Zechariah who came long after Solomon's death knew this story of King David's son, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the LORD took this well known detail of how one of Israel's most peaceful kings came riding to his crown on the back of a donkey and in it provided more details as to how the promise of the Saviour would be fulfilled.
Today of course is Palm Sunday and we are remembering a different man who sat on a donkey and went to be made king, He too went to the place where the priests were, in His case to the Temple, to the Temple built on the site where Solomon had built the first temple. The priests would make Jesus king by their work but it was not what they had expected to do. His throne would not be a place of luxury but one of pain and death; and when Jesus was going to it, and Pilate had an inscription written to be put on the cross which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.,” ... The chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” [to which] Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” The Crucifixion would change Jesus' life forever, forever He would bear the marks of His death for you, the nail wounds in His hands and in His feet, the mark of the Spear. His coronation with its crown of thorns was the lowliest of coronations, it was not one in which honour was bestowed but rather one in which humiliation was inflicted, it was full of mockery and jeering. In a very real way Jesus took these humiliations so that Solomon at His coronation could receive glory and life and praise and honour. So that you robbed in the kingly righteousness of Jesus in your baptism would receive glory and life and praise and honour from God both now in life and perfectly on the Last Day which is to come. So that Adam and Eve would also receive the kingly righteousness of Jesus on the last day.
To herald the joy of having a king the people blew trumpets for Solomon, as Jesus road into Jerusalem the crowd 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!” In the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew records that "the crowds that went before [Jesus] and [the crowds] that followed Him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
It's a curious thing, the literal son of King David, Solomon, road a donkey to his coronation as king just as the future son promised to King David, Jesus, road a donkey into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. The people on the day Jesus road into Jerusalem have put this together, they look at Jesus and they see, by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the fulfilment of a promise made to King David by God - this is why they say “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
What promise is this? You ask! The Lord made a covenant with David, a contract with him, in it God promised David saying, "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son." In this promise the LORD is speaking in the short term about Solomon, the immediate fulfilment of this promise, but at the same time and ultimately the LORD was speaking of Jesus. Here again we see more details, for this promise is the same promise that was give in the Garden at the fall, the one given to Adam and Eve and the serpent. To David this promise given to him in his old age is a glimpse at the face of Christ Jesus.
When we read the Gospels we see this promise coming to pass in the person of Jesus years before that first Palm Sunday when at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River there came a voice out of heaven saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” What did God say to David? "I will be to Him a Father, and Me shall be to Me a Son." At His transfiguration when Jesus too Peter, James and John (The last of whom is the writer of today's Gospel) to the mountainside to pray, as Jesus was transfigured before their eyes "and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light," at that time "a voice from the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I Am well pleased; listen to Him.'”
Jesus is the fulfilment of the promise made to Adam and Eve, He is the fulfilment of the promise made to David and David's son Solomon points forward to Jesus as he rides his father's donkey to his coronation, his anointing as king. The whole of the Old Testament slowly reveals this to us and in Jesus this promise is being fulfilled.
Jesus too made a promise and it is a promise for you and for me. Our Gospel lesson coming from John's Gospel begins with the sentence "The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem." The next day after what? It was the next day after Jesus had sat down with Lazarus and his sisters to eat. why this was such a big deal was because it was well known that Lazarus had died and many people had come out from Jerusalem to give their condolences. Lazarus had been dead four days before Jesus came and resurrected Lazarus from the dead. As Jesus was going to do this He had spoken with Lazarus' sister Martha, "Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to Him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I Am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'” This is a big promise and we with Martha are charged with the question " Do you believe this?" and in faith we with Martha can say “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Jesus promises all this before He raises Lazarus from the dead, He promises all this before He Himself is raised from the dead on Easter Morning after His crucifixion and death, and we now wait for Him to do this for us and for those we love who have died in the faith. The fulfilment of this promise feels slow in coming but we trust that Jesus is most faithful in His fulfilling of this promise. And when we find ourselves doubting this promise, when our faith seems too weak to grasp it, remember that the LORD is gracious and merciful slow to anger also and abounding in steadfast love: His steadfast Love road into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey on that first Palm Sunday and because of His mercy and grace Jesus didn't stop the journey but went obediently right to the cross. Many people are frustrated with God the Fathers slowness to bring the End today, but remember that slowness may not be the best word to use when thinking of how and why God works the way He does, for it is on account of His abounding love for you that He gives you time to turn to Him, time to return to Him, time to seek Him, time to receive His love and His gifts, He is giving you time to trust the promise and time to share the promise with others. What looks slow to the world is really patience. As saint Peter says "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
Jesus who bruised Satan the serpents head - crushing it at the cross - Jesus whose heal was bruised in death - yet He lives - says to you today 'I Am the Resurrection and the Life." Jesus promises to you this day "Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die." Jesus will faithful and patiently fulfill His promise to 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.
 "Quotations For The Fast Lane" Compiled by Richard W. Pound, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013. pg 440.
 Revelation 12:9
 Genesis 3:15
 Zechariah 9:9
 1 Kings 1:28-40 "Then King David answered, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king's presence and stood before the king. And the king swore, saying, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity, as I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ even so will I do this day.” Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground and paid homage to the king and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”
King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. And the king said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet there anoint him king over Israel. Then blow the trumpet and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ You shall then come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, for he shall be king in my place. And I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.” And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, say so. As the LORD has been with my lord the king, even so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”
So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David's mule and brought him to Gihon. There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise."
 John 19:19-22
 John 19:2-3 "The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head and arrayed Him in a purple robe. They came up to Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck Him with their hands."
 Matthew 21:9
 2 Samuel 7:12-14
 Matthew 3:17
 Matthew 17:2
 Matthew 17:5
 John 11:23-26
 John 11:27
 2 Peter 3:9