Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In catechism class, when we speak of the Second Article of the Apostolic Creed, we find many important themes. For example, the two states of our Lord: The state of humiliation and the state of exaltation. In our epistle for today (Philippians 2: 5-11), St. Paul speaks of the state of humiliation in this way:
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not esteem to be equal with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men; and being in the condition of man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross. "
In His humiliation, the Son of God left His throne in heaven, cast aside the attributes of divinity such as omnipotence and omniscience, to be tested in all the same ways as we are. We also speak in the catechism class of the two natures of Christ, the divine and the human. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. As a true man, Jesus was hungry, thirsty, often tired. He was tempted by sin like us, but He never sinned. In this way Jesus fulfilled the Law of God in our places.
How does the creed refer to the state of humiliation? "He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried.” Humiliation began when the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, equal in His divinity with the Father Almighty and the Holy Spirit, who existed before the creation of the world, descended from the heavens to be born in Bethlehem. This is the story of Christmas and includes His growth as the son of Joseph the carpenter in Nazareth. The second part of the humiliation, its fulfillment, is found in the events of Holy Week. In these days, Christ suffered the punishment for our sins, even death on the cross.
There is more. St. Paul spoke of the state of exaltation thus: "Wherefore God also exalted him to the utmost, and gave him a name which is above every name; That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of them that are in heaven, and of them that are on the earth, and of them that are under the earth; And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. "
When did this process begin according to the creed? "He descended into hell; On the third day He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. "
It is true, His exaltation began with a descent. Because His victory was on the cross. He descended into hell to proclaim this victory. "For Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God, being dead indeed in the flesh, but quickened in spirit; In which he also went and preached to the imprisoned spirits. " On the cross Christ overcame sin, the devil and death. He then proclaimed the good news in the domain of the devil and death for the humiliation of these powers. His resurrection was a sign of his victory in the world of the living. And now he reigns with the Father and the Spirit forever.
Well, we started Holy Week with the story of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Our text for today reads as follows: "And the disciples went, and they did as Jesus commanded them; And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them; And sat upon them. And the multitude, who were very numerous, stretched out their cloaks on the road; and others cut down branches from the trees, and laid them out on the road. And the people that went before, and they that followed after, shouted, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the high!"
In such a way Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of our Old Testament reading (Zechariah 9: 9-12): "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout aloud, daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king shall come unto thee, righteous and saving, and humble, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
We also deal in the catechism class of the three-part office of Jesus as the Messiah: Prophet, Priest and King. As a prophet, Jesus preached the Word of God to the people of Israel. As a priest, He sacrificed Himself on the cross, once for all. As king, Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). In Jesus, God fulfilled his promise to King David that his descendant would reign forever.
So where do we place the story of the triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on the timeline of salvation? Our Lord was still in His state of humiliation because His true triumph was on the cross of Calvary. His entrance seated on a donkey was a sign that the Savior promised to the patriarchs of Israel had come to make His new covenant. A king sitting on an ass, not a horse, meant a mission of peace and reconciliation. And all the people knew the prophecy of Zechariah. So the streets were full of the people with their palms and praises.
But what happened within a week? The streets were filled again with those who shouted "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!" Such is the glory of this world. We always pray for the blessing of good government, and for the authorities. God instituted civil government for the welfare of all. However, the power and glory of this world never last forever. All kingdoms and empires rise and fall, the righteous and wise as well as the corrupt. All are under the authority of God.
This is important to remember in this time of instability and uncertainty. We must not trust in leaders and movements who say, "If we have earthly power, we can eliminate poverty and war forever." The roots of poverty, injustice, and war are not located in the political system, but in sinful human nature. And nothing can change human nature apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in the Word and the sacraments.
But, no matter what happens between the powers of this world, victory over all belongs to the King of kings, Jesus Christ. Heaven and earth will pass, but His Word will not pass. The true triumph of Christ was not in the acclamation of the multitude, but in His death, the new covenant made in His blood. Therefore, every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. In that, we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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