In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The right and proper office of a king is to save his people. To do that which they cannot, to uphold the lives and good of the people by establishing justice, rewarding the righteous, and punishing the wicked. Jesus rides into Jerusalem in the Triumphal Entry, “9 And the crowds that went before him and 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!”” They were singing Psalm 118, according to the custom on Passover week[, much the same way that we have hymns we sing on certain holy days like Christmas or Easter or the like]. They were chanting a psalm for the coming Messiah, the “Son of David” Who was to be the king and the savior alike. They may not have realized how fitting it was. Whether or not they fully understood Who it was among them, in chanting “Hosanna!” they spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, asking the King Christ Jesus for just the right and proper office of a King: to save his people.
The word “Hosanna” means “O Save us!” This plea to the Lord God is echoed through time and history, as we need the saving and the Lord God had redeemed us His people time and again. Consider what Jeremiah the prophet says: “7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”” God had saved His people once from Egyptian slavery. Jeremiah foretells how God would, and did, save His people from captivity in the north countries of Babylon. How much more then, at the crucial moment in all of history, does the Lord God save His people from slavish captivity to death and hell? The promise was that the promised “righteous Branch” [/Kingly Messiah] would reign on the throne of David forever, and save His people according to that Kingly office.
So it is that Jesus, King of the Jews, comes to Jerusalem. His majesty hidden, laid aside for a time for a time, cloaked in our humble human flesh. Isaiah 53:2 says of Jesus: “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” Or in Philippians 2[:7-8] it is written: “7 … [He] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[a] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” In the course of His saving work, Jesus humbled Himself, and did not fully use His divine attributes or display all of His divine majesty. Even fulfilling prophecies according to His Kingship, He does so in humble form. All “4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet [Zechariah [9:9]] , saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’””
Therein we have great hope. Christ our King works to save His people through humble means. All too often we are tempted to fear and love the majesty of things in the world... the power money seems to have, or the glitz and glamour of fame and reputation. We get so worked up, anxious about what the kings and rulers of the world are doing. The idol we fear is often “what are they up to?” We fear they can harm us, as they in their power are anything but humble. Yet Christ is King, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They would have no power apart from His permission and patience. The Lord is sympathetic to our fear and does come to save us, but we ought to learn to trust that no matter how evil the world seems, we know that Christ Jesus is still King. He rules even now, and He does hear and answer our plea to save us.
As King, Christ Jesus saves His people through humble means. To Jerusalem He came, to save his people from the ultimate wages of sin, by His cross and passion and death and resurrection. In this humble way He saves, by dying and rising. In this humble way He comes to us even now in bread and wine, word and water. Humble means. Faded bread and thin wine are the Body and Blood of God, given you to eat and drink. God’s kingdom comes among us even now.
We have to be told about this. It is not something we would think of on our own. It says: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you….” God is at work; We pray that He would reveal to us how He is at work among us. When Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus tells him: “And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 16:17). We need to hear this to have our eyes/ears opened to it. If all you see is the tense dramas of a voters meeting or the gossipy worst-possible constructions we poor miserable sinners project onto one another, you’d miss the holy Christian church entirely. God is present in His Word. Where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is among us. Angels kneel and adore Christ with us as heaven touches earth here in the holy communion. The demons flee in terror at the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray : “Thy Kingdom come” in the Lord’s Prayer… and How does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.
All that said, it means that the Kingdom of God is among us even now. Christ came humbly, mounted on a colt, the foal of a donkey once in time and history. He did His work by the cross and the empty tomb. He rose and ascended, and is still actively reigning over all things even now. However the news cycle rages and storms, it will not change the fact that Christ has already triumphed. Eternity is His, and because He is risen, it is yours too, because you are Baptized into His death and resurrection. So we do not lose heart. We have a strong encouragement and comfort in the reign of Christ the king among us. What can they do to you, that Christ has not already overcome?
So also we look to our conduct in the present-day rule of Christ. The Epistle reading from Romans 13 points out: “11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
So also ought to straighten up our act, and straighten up our heads, looking forward to our King Who hears our Hosannas. He came once in the days of His crucifixion. He rules even now, especially His church through His means of Grace. And our King Christ Jesus could come back at any moment. We don’t know when it is. Don’t be wasting time with quarrels or bad blood. Christ comes among us even now. Salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. God is at work in history, even in your life now. He will not let “them,” whoever that is, prevail. He sees and knows your distress, and will see you safely through, according to His wisdom. He will bring you even more through death into life, because you are baptized into His death and resurrection. Call out to him and pray for His salvation, asking for His ever present mercy to you. God grant you ears to hear what the prophet speaks: O Daughter of Zion, your King comes to save you. In the name of + Jesus. Amen.