Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today we remember Jesus' last entry into Jerusalem. We began the season of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas, with the same story (Matthew 21: 1-9, the first Sunday of Advent). Because the whole story of Jesus Christ is the story of His way to the cross, from His birth to Good Friday. We begin Easter with the penultimate stage on its way, as we began the year of the church, the entire cycle of Jesus' life.
At that time, as now, Jesus was the Son of God, the Incarnation of the second Person of the Holy Trinity. Also, as the descendant of Abraham promised in the Old Testament, prophesied by the prophets like Zechariah, He was of the lineage of King David. He had the right to be king of Israel. However, Jesus did not want an earthly kingdom, His goal was the salvation of all nations.
With His last entry into Jerusalem, Jesus fulfilled 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 saving, humble, and riding on a donkey, on an ass, child of a donkey. "
This king did not ride a horse, the war beast. The donkey meant this king came to make a peace treaty.
And Saint John says thus: “… many people who had come to the festival, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palms, and went out to receive him, and they cried out: Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel, who comes in the name of the Lord! ” This is an echo of our psalm, Psalm 118.
But, this entry was not the true victory of Jesus Christ. Jesus was still in His state of humiliation, which began when He was born of the Virgin Mary, grew up as the son of Joseph the carpenter and would continue throught this Holy Week. Jesus' victory would be on the cross, His state of exaltation began on the cross. Jesus did not achieve his victory with the cheers of the crowd that filled the streets of Jerusalem. Because the same streets were filled that Friday with those who shouted, according to Saint Matthew 27: 11-31, “Let Him be crucified! Let him be crucified! ”
This is the way of the unconverted world. The crowd searches for a winner. And no victory in this world is the end, and no one wins every battle. So, people follow this man, then another man as their earthly savior.
Before this entry into Jerusalem, Jesus revived Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethany, and all the people were talking about that event. But, this demonstration of His divine power frightened the priests and elders of Israel and at that moment they began to plan the death of Jesus. Why? Because they did not trust God, but the power of this world. They thought that Jesus was going to raise an army to defeat the Romans and the Romans were going to crush his rebellion. Therefore, Jesus should die for the welfare of the nation.
But, Jesus did not want a golden crown. His purpose was to die not only for the nation of Israel, but all nations. After His death on the cross, Jesus would rise from the dead and ascend to heaven to be King of kings forever.
But, first, His humiliation must be accomplished. His crown would not be a crown of gold, but a crown of thorns. As Matthew says, “Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus to the praetorium, and gathered the whole crew around him; And stripping him, they put a scarlet robe on him. And weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head; and a reed in His right hand, and kneeling before Him, they mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit on Him, and taking the reed, they struck His head. And after they had mocked Him, they took off his cloak, and putting on His garments, they took him away to crucify Him. "
On the cross, Jesus did not overcome Pontius Pilate or the Romans, but the power of sin, the devil, and death for us. Therefore, God exalted Him. For Jesus, the approval of the crowd did not matter. The important thing was to fulfill the will of God. And from His Father came the reward.
Remember the story of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. The devil's second trap was the lure of vainglory. Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and said, "If you are the Son of God, you jump off this pinnacle and God will send his angels to rescue you." It was implied that people would see Him and salute Jesus as their hero. We see this vainglory in the crowd that shouted hosannas to the Son of David.
As followers of Jesus Christ, our path is not the path of vainglory either. False teachers say if you have enough faith, God always gives you victory in this world. Victory after victory. Fame, wealth, everything you want. Perhaps a large church full of people. It is true sometimes God will bless us and give us victory. But, also, as Christians, we will have to face problems, trials and difficulties. We must recognize our final victory is not in this world, but in eternal life with Christ.
And thank God, none of us have to suffer all of God's wrath as Christ did. Jesus made the perfect sacrifice forever. Jesus won the victory over death for us, so he is our Lord and King. Because Christ has done for us, we can bear all our tribulations. Among the same crisis of the whole world, we do not have the same fear and despair, but hope and peace that surpass all understanding. Amen.
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