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Palmarum

Mark 11:1-10

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Lent 6
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sun, Mar 28, 2021 

Among the four Gospels, there are various differences in the accounts of the Triumphal Entry of Palm Sunday.  These differences are not a matter of contradiction, since God cannot contradict Himself.  But each account has variations coming from individual details of eyewitnesses.

Some of these are small yet interesting details.  The evangelist Saint Mark alone tells us that Christ instructed the disciples who fetched the donkey to tell its owners that Christ would return the donkey immediately.  Obviously, we would not expect the Lord to simply take and keep someone’s animal.  Instead, He responsibly made sure that the property returned to its rightful owner.  Although Christ had the right to use what He had created, He was not demanding His rights as Owner of all things.  Here, as in Commandments Seven, Nine, and Ten, the Lord of creation shows that He wants each man to have his property and not have it deprived of him.  This is a good rebuke to those who expect property to be redistributed to others based on race, history, or economic status.

Another interesting difference that only Mark mentions is that they found the donkey tied at a door out in the open street.  This adds a historical detail that helps us see that the disciples were not sneaking through a hedge or jumping a fence to get to the animal.  Christ did not give an assignment to the disciples that would give the appearance of evil actions or intents.

But the detail this sermon focuses on most comes in the last verse.  The crowd is crying out, “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!  Hosanna in the highest!” Although most of these words are very familiar to us, one phrase is unique to Mark: “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!” All four Gospels record words declaring blessed He who comes in the Name of the Lord.  But Mark also adds that the kingdom of David is coming, and that this kingdom is blessed.

The words, “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord,” come from Psalm 118.  But the words about the coming kingdom are a summary of Second Samuel seven.  The Lord said to David, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your Seed after you, who will 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 His Father, and He shall be My Son. … And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you.  Your throne shall be established forever.”

The Seed of David is Christ.  The Kingdom of Christ is the Kingdom of His father David.  The Lord wanted to fulfill His promise to His own forefather by establishing a kingdom that never ends.

In a way, the kingdom already existed.  All who trusted in the coming King were part of the kingdom.  But the establishment of the kingdom had not taken place yet.  It had to be established by the King who rode into Jerusalem.

Christ, the Son of David, came to Jerusalem for the purpose of dying for all sins.  He came to suffer and be betrayed, and to shed holy Blood to create a nation of His saints.  He came to rise from the dead, thus becoming both the Victim of wicked men as well as the Conqueror of all the powers of evil.  By the time this week ended, beginning at Palm Sunday and ending on Easter, all the forces opposed to Christ’s kingdom would be beaten: the grave, the devil, sin, and hell.  The conquering Victim would do all this, and thus inaugurate His kingdom forever.

What a strange kingdom, unlike any other in the history of the world!  What a strange way to win a victory!  What a strange King who walks into a horrible ambush willingly, is completely defeated by betrayal and torture, and by losing wins!

Church Father Bede wrote, “‘Behold, your king will come to you, gentle and sitting upon a donkey, and its foal, the offspring of a beast of burden.’ The daughter of Zion is the church of the faithful, a figure of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all, of which there then existed a sizable group among the people of Israel.  They had a king who was gentle, for it was not God’s pleasure to give an earthly kingdom to the powerful, but a heavenly kingdom to the gentle.”

The gentle King creates a heavenly kingdom for His gentle saints.  His coming into Jerusalem, humble and lowly, is the creation of the kingdom.  He blesses all who trust in Him by doing what He does this holy week.

The kind of gentleness the King looks for is the gentleness of a heart that repents at His Law.  It is a gentleness that does not demand a person’s rights, but only begs for mercy.  It is a gentleness that does not earn, but must depend upon charity.  Those who do not want charity are not the gentle of heart.  They are the self-reliant, whereas we must identify as the spiritually needy.  That is the gentleness that our King values.

Did the crowd know?  Did they understand?  It appears that some of them did.  God always preserves a faithful remnant among His people who wait for His promises.  Some of these were waiting for their king of holiness, the Son of David.  They said words to that effect on Palm Sunday.  They said the right words at the right time to welcome their Savior when He came.

If only we could be at the right place at the right time.  But we are!  We are here today as He comes among us.  He comes as He has come so many times, humble and lowly under Bread and Wine.  We remember that this is the coming of the Kingdom for us.  We receive everything He created and won by conquest that holy week.  We welcome Him with the right words, using some of the same words used by the crowd about two thousand years ago, and used by the church for two thousand years.

As the King comes we should remember that the blessings go to the gentle.  The kingdom is only for the gentle.  Here we must understand that the humble and lowly who are saddened by their own sinfulness are the ones who receive what the King comes to give.  The blessed ones are not the assertive and forceful.  The King does not come for the strong and the earthly wise.  Those who set their minds on earthly success will not win the kingdom.  The kingdom is not won by men but given freely to the gentle.

Even those who set their minds on spiritual success by being good will not find a gracious Lord.  After all, they are not seeking grace, but a reward for how good they are.  Yes, we should try to be as good as we can, obeying our Lord in every matter we can.  Yet when we come to this altar we must kneel in humility as sinners, not present ourselves proudly.

Here Christ the King welcomes the weak, the miserable, the broken, the afflicted.  The unworthy are His saints.  Those who think themselves worthy He will pass by.

The people who are proud of how well they have done in life have no reason to kneel at this altar.  Instead, those who are ashamed of how poorly they have done find a King here who loves them.  Those who tremble here because they know how unworthy they are have it right.  But the ones who have worked hard to make sure that they have made themselves worthy of this King will find that He was not their King after all.

Blessed is the Kingdom of our father David.  Blessed are the saints who follow a King full of charity.  Blessed are you, for you are claimed by the Son of David, who comes to you meekly and with gentleness.  Blessed are you for all eternity.

Amen.



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