Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! – A sermon on Luke 19:38 by Rev. Ralph Adams.
Beloved Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ… Today is Palm Sunday! One week from Easter. Today we remember Jesus’ ‘triumphal entry’ into Jerusalem. You may recall when I last preached from Luke 19, I told you that Jesus was on a journey. Today we see Him approaching His journey’s end… His final earthly destination. An excited crowd lines the roadside to cheer Him on. The crowd joyfully praises God… ”for all the [miracles]… they had seen.”
1. BEHOLD YOUR KING COMES, MOUNTED ON A DONKEY:
People were jostling each other to catch a glimpse of this Jesus. They welcomed Him by waving palm fronds. They threw cloaks on the road in His path. Not exactly a red carpet, but certainly the ‘red-carpet treatment’ to welcome this visiting dignitary. And we hear them sing, ”Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” It’s all very fitting for the One they thought would soon be King. And it couldn’t have been any other way… because this is how God wanted it. Jesus said, ”If they—His followers— keep quiet,” then God will cause ”the [very] stones [to]cry out.”
But the stones don’t have to cry out… there are more than enough people to praise God… and to sing, ”Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” So Jesus rides on into the city… on a donkey… fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy. This is how we remember the first Palm Sunday.
On the surface of things… it was a happy occasion. All the gospels tell us, people sang words from Psalm 118: “Hosanna… blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” “Hosanna” is from the same Hebrew root as the name “Jesus.” It means, “please save!” “Hosanna” is a cry for help… like you and I would cry out, if we fell into the water and couldn’t swim. The answer to that cry for help is in the words, ”Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The people are actually singing words to the effect, “We’re going to be saved! The Lord is bringing Salvation!”
They ”supposed the kingdom [was going to appear] immediately.” ”Hooray! Salvation is here! This Jesus will save us! Hooray for our king!” Hearts were bubbling over at the thought of the miraculous rescue they would soon experience— be that from Roman oppression or whatever else was burdening their lives.
You can see that the first Palm Sunday really was a happy occasion. But in the midst of all the singing and celebration… one person fails to fully share the happy atmosphere. As He approached Jerusalem, Jesus was not happy. He saw the city and ‘wept’ openly for it. Hear Jesus, through his bitter tears, “[Jerusalem…] if you had only known on this day the things that make for peace …” The sons and daughters of Jerusalem THOUGHT they knew what was going on. They were ‘praising God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.’ They were really impressed with Jesus’ miracles:
• He had healed the sick…
• He drove out demons…
• He multiplied loaves of bread in their sight…
• He gave back blind Bartimaeus his sight…
• and most spectacular of all— in Bethany, just back along the road by which He’d come— He had called Lazarus from the grave.
You can see why our Lord was so very popular at the time… they thought Jesus was going to fulfil all their fondest dreams. To which Jesus has to add, “If only you had known…”