We continue our bible study in the book of Luke. This morning we walk through Luke 6:12-36. Here is a written copy if you’d like to follow along at home: The gospel of Luke: A Bible Study.
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This is the sermon for the Sixth Sunday in Lent—Palm Sunday. The sermon text is: Zechariah 9:9, 10. The sermon theme is: What Kind of a King Do You Have? Here is the Written Sermon.
What Kind of a King Do You Have?
What kind of king is this? That is the question many must have been asking so long ago. Jesus starts out at the bottom of the hill outside of Jerusalem. And as he goes there are more and more people following him. And has he goes the songs are louder and louder. And as he travels the titles they give him are bigger and bigger. They called this man Jesus the “Son of David.” That is a name only reserved for a king. But what do they see? They see man riding a donkey. And he couldn’t even get a grown up donkey. Instead he’s riding on a foal of a donkey. Where’s the horse or chariot of a king? And where are the soldiers? Instead of soldiers there little children following. And so those who saw this going by must have asked that question: what kind of king is this? And it is the same question we ask today.
One of the beautiful facts about God’s word is that hundreds of years before Jesus rode up into Jerusalem, God answered that question. If we want to know what sort of king we have, all we have to do is look back to the book of Zechariah. And the prophet Zechariah tells us: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech 9:9 NIV)
Hundreds of years before Jesus entered Jerusalem the Lord spoke about this king. Look at him! That’s what the Lord invites us to do. Look at him and what do we see? We see a lowly king riding on a half-size donkey. But before we see what he is riding on, we see what he is like. Notice the two words Zechariah uses. This king is righteous and rescuing. Of all the kings who have ever walked on this earth Jesus is unique. Jesus is unique because he was righteous. He is the only one who was perfect. He was the only one who did not use his power to abuse. And what did he use his power to do? He used his power to rescue. All of these people in Jerusalem and all people across the world were in a horrible, dangerous situation. They were sinners. And the only just penalty for sin was death and hell.
So Jesus rescues us with his righteousness. He is perfect in our place. And he will rescue us. But how he comes to us shows us so much about how he will rescue us. Our king is a lowly king. And it shouldn’t surprise us then that our lowly king rescued us in a lowly way. If riding on a half-size donkey was lowly, then how much more lowly was Jesus’ punishment and death on Friday?
What kind of king do you have? You have a king who is lowly in his salvation. And what this means to us is so full of meaning and hope. Because Jesus saved us in such a lowly and perfect way we don’t need to be afraid of this king anymore. When, someone has power, what that so very often means for us is terror. Years ago in high school I had a teacher that in one breath would joke and laugh and then in the next would lash out and yell. And many times you couldn’t figure out if he was trying to tell a joke or just be mean. And that would mean very little if he didn’t have any power over that class. But he did. He held our grades in his hands. Power so very often means terror. And if it’s true for teachers, then how much more is it true of kings.
So Jesus is lowly in his salvation so that we would not be afraid. And there is exactly where we see our sin, isn’t it? For what we think we want and need from our king is power. And instead he gives to us his lowliness. And we are embarrassed of it. We are embarrassed that there were no chariots and cavalry to usher our king home. We are embarrassed of that naked, bleeding and dying Jesus died on the cross.
And we aren’t just embarrassed of his work. We are also embarrassed of his word. He comes to us so humbly and lowly today doesn’t he? The salvation he wins there on the cross he brings through his word. And so, when someone is baptized would like angels to shout but all there is is a promise from God’s word. When we receive the Lord’s Supper we expect our hearts to be burning as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. But so very often they are not. And in the absence of strong signs and strong sensations we begin to despise our lowly king.
But yet, it is the very thing that we despise that leads us to repent, isn’t it? It is his lowly path to Jerusalem and to the cross that takes away our sin. It is his perfection that covers up our embarrassment of him. It is his lowly salvation that covers up our shameful sin.
What kind of a king do you have? You have a king that is lowly in his salvation. But there is more to learn about this king. For Zechariah tells us: “I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. 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.” (Zech 9:10 NIV)
This king will rule from sea to sea and from shore to shore. Not only is your king lowly, he is also limitless. Now, before we begin to understand this passage, we first need to understand where and over what our King rules. In the Lord’s Prayer we say, “Your kingdom come.” And do your remember what those words mean? In Luther’s small catechism you once memorized these words:
Your kingdom come.
What does this mean?
God’s kingdom certainly comes by itself even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may also come to us.
How does God’s kingdom come?
God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and lead a godly life now on earth and forever in heaven.
God rules over all things. But he especially rules over spiritual things. He rules in our hearts through his word. And here is where it is vitally important that we understand that his rule is limitless because in our hearts is where we sin, isn’t it? Sin starts in our hearts and then it spreads to our mouths and to our hands. And it would be one thing if the thoughts of envy, lust, hatred, spite, conceit and selfishness happened only every now and then. But they are with us every day and many times even within each day.
Who will rule there? Who will rule there in our sinful hearts so that God doesn’t despise us because of our sin and so that we don’t despair and fall away from faith? Here is where it is so important and comforting for us to see that not only is our king lowly in his salvation, he is limitless in his preservation. We repent every day. And there is forgiveness there every day. We repent decade after decade. And that same forgiveness comes to us through his word.
And there is where we find the most beautiful irony. Our king places his limitless power in his lowly word and in his lowly work. And the result is not only the fact that our sin is taken away. But we trust in him day by day without fear. And that is what we sing about in our hymns, isn’t it? In our final words this morning we will sing these words:
Come not in terrors,
Thou on my head
You have a king who is lowly in his salvation and limitless in his preservation. And since this is true, approach him. Do not be afraid. Approach him with your sin and confess it. For he takes it away with his righteousness. And when the long marathon of this life wears you down, do not despair, read his promises in his word. For there is where he shows his limitless power. Amen.