Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The gospel for today (Matthew 21: 1-9) is in all respects the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah (9: 9-12). "Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King will come to you, He is just and having salvation, humble, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the son of an ass.” This Messianic prophecy indicates that the Messiah, the descendant David promised, would come to Jerusalem to make a new covenant of peace for all the nations. All of Jerusalem had heard the news that Jesus of Nazareth could be the Messiah; everyone also knew the prophecy of Zechariah. Then, the crowd on the road, everyone shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the high!"
However, Palm Sunday is not the Sunday of the Resurrection. Jesus was on the way to the cross. On Good Friday, the crowds did not shout, "Hosanna!", But, "Crucify Him!" Why the change? Because the crowds did not have the faith that comes from hearing the whole Word of God.
Do you want to know Jesus? Do you want a personal relationship with Jesus? The only way to know the true Savior is in the preaching of the Word and the confession of the church. To confess the faith publicly is to say, "I believe" in front of men. It is to affirm what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you, not by private experience, but by the inspired testimony of the prophets and apostles.
We confess our faith in the creed, which means "I believe." But, some people ask, Where is the Apostles' Creed in the Scriptures? Where is the Nicene Creed? The Athanasian Creed? But, the church has always had its creeds, and their primitive forms are found in the Scriptures themselves.
Philippians 2: 5-11 is an example. The second article of the Apostolic Creed says, "I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord." Saint Paul says here in Philippians that Christ Jesus "being in the form of God, did not esteem being equal to God as a thing to be grasped".
"He was conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary". Says Paul, "But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, made like unto men; and found in the condition of man, humbled himself. "
Jesus is identified here as the Son of God incarnate, but as a man among men, so only He can be an example to men. He was not merely clothed with divine form and glory, but possessed this glory and majesty as His own. He was not only on the same level as God, he was identical with God. But He did not demonstrate the majesty and glory that were His.
It is not that Jesus, during His earthly ministry, simply had prophetic gifts, such as those God gave to the prophets of old. By His almighty power, Jesus performed the great miracles that are recorded of Him. But He voluntarily deprived himself of the unlimited and continuous use of His divine majesty. He did not renounce the divine nature, but its unlimited use. He became a poor man, and humble, who assumed the likeness of our sinful flesh and carried the misery of fallen humanity in His body. Thus, there is a double nature in Christ, that of God and that of a true human being.
"He suffered under the power of Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell." Says Paul, "Becoming obedient unto death, and death on a cross."
The longer He lived, the more He emptied himself, the more completely He dressed in the form of a servant. He became obedient to death, even to the death of the cross. The death of Christ was of a specially reviled nature, that of the cross. In this sense, His humiliation went beyond the usual experience of human beings. He died a cruel death, not that of a Roman citizen, but that of a criminal, or a slave. This represents the last degree of His humillation.
"On the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into the heavens and is seated at the right hand of God Almighty Father; and from there He must come to judge the living and the dead." Says Paul, "Wherefore God also exalted Him to the utmost, and gave Him a name that is above every name; so that at the name of Jesus, every knee bends; of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. "
The Father exalted the man Jesus Christ. Christ, according to his human nature, was subject to all the consequences of sin, suffering, death and the grave. But now He is exalted; The days of his humiliation have passed. His human body is now in full possession of the divine glory and majesty that was communicated to him at the time of the incarnation. He has resumed the unlimited use of His divine qualities and attributes, He makes use of all power in heaven and earth, He is the King in the realms of power, grace and glory. It is the glorified man Jesus Christ who reigns above all, the heavenly and earthly things, and the things under the earth; His human nature has entered into full and unlimited communion with the divine essence.
This confession gives us comfort in two senses. First, our Lord understands all our needs and anxieties. He was made man to be tempted in the same ways that we are tempted. In this time of crisis in Venezuela, many people are hungry, they are thirsty. Jesus Christ was hungry, He thirsted in the desert when He was tempted by the devil. He understands what makes us happy too. Jesus blessed the wedding at Cana; blessed the children; He gave thanks for the food. Also, He suffered much more than we can understand. He suffered the wrath of God and the condemnation of sins in our places.
Second, because in His human nature He died and rose and was exalted, we too will share in His resurrection and exaltation, that is, eternal life. As our Lord, our path is the path to suffering and death. Perhaps, like our Lord, we will win for a while the vainglorious admiration of the multitudes. But, the multitudes did not follow Jesus to the cross on that day, nor today either. The fate of all mankind is physical death, but non-believers do not want to think about this. For the faithful, physical death is not the end of history, but the way to eternal life is only the cross of Christ. This promise is certain, because Jesus Christ is true God and true man.
In this, we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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