PALM / PASSION SUNDAY – March 24, 2013

SCRIPTURES – Zechariah 9:9-12; Mark 11:1-11; Mark 14:32 – 15:39 



They led him away to their council, and they said, "If you are the Christ, tell us." But he said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God." So they all said, "Are you the Son of God, then? And he said to them, "You say rightly that I am.” Luke 23 


"Are you the Son of God?” Why did they have to ask? Well, standing there in a torn robe, beaten and bruised and bloody, Jesus certainly didn’t appear to be the spitting image of God. Nor was He acting like Him. He couldn’t be God’s Son, one with the Father, as He claimed to be! That was the conclusion; and a logical one it was.

Here is where human reason and logic fail, and why so many people remain terribly mistaken to this day. It is precisely in His humility, His weakness and His sufferings, that Jesus shows Himself to be God’s Son, for it is in them that He most truly reflects God. The Jewish leaders were thinking: “God is powerful. He is the mighty and holy Ruler of all who cannot suffer and who will come in power to stand with the good, not with the sinful.” How wrong they were! God isn’t merely powerful, and over all things, and ruling. He is this, of course – and so was Jesus.

  • When the high priest’s servant had his ear cut off at Jesus’ arrest, Jesus quickly touched the ear and healed him. Who else but God could reach out and by a mere touch perfectly heal?

But, God is not simply powerful and holy. He is powerful and holy for us sinners. The main thing to know about God is that He is love, self-giving and self-sacrificial love. He loves all people and desires that we be with Him and be like Him.

When we are introduced to God at the beginning of the Bible He is wonderfully and beautifully creating all things. Then, He specially creates man in His image, that He might rejoice in us and share His love and His creation with us. That desire remained even after the people He created disobeyed Him and turned away from Him.

  • Remember how God came down to Adam and Eve after they sinned? They ran and hid from Him, but He called to them, sought them out, and gently questioned them, as if He didn’t know what they had done. When Adam, seeking to deny his guilt and dodge his punishment, unjustly accused God of causing him to sin (“It was the woman whom You gave me. She gave me the fruit, and I ate.”), what did God do? He forgave him and his wife, and promised to send a Savior who would ultimately crush Satan, their enemy, and deliver them from their sin.

From the very beginning God shows us that He loves sinners, with a sacrificial and self-giving love. To forgive us and rescue us from our sin and lowliness He willingly clothes Himself with weakness. The humility, weakness, and sufferings of Jesus reveal that He is the Son of God because they show that He is exactly what God is like. The true Son of God seeks our forgiveness. He desires above all our love, and will descend into the depths of our humanity and our sin and humbly endure man’s rejection – and, on the cross, God’s rejection! – that He might have it.

This is why we tell the story of Jesus’ suffering and death for us again and again, year after year. It declares to us who God is and how He works. It tells us where we find Him and His help, and so where we find eternal life with God.

Many people seek and desire a mighty Son of God. They want a Jesus who keeps sickness and sorrow from them, and so they pray for this; a Jesus who can make them prosper, and so they pray for this; a Jesus who can give them happiness, and so they not only ask for this but see Him as present and working primarily when they have this. But, who asks God to drive out their sinful thoughts and desires?

The true Son of God is the lowly and humble Savior and Friend of sinners. He is present in lowliness and suffering and hardship, and especially where sin is present and confessed, for there He brings the eternal comfort and peace of the forgiveness He died and rose to gain for us.

Do you want God? Do you want to know Him, and be known by Him; to love Him, and be loved by Him? Then listen to your God. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, God said through His prophet Zechariah (9:9-10):

 


“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey… and he shall speak peace to the nations.”

 


God comes to us in humility, as a king who rules over sin. He rules it by forgiving it in those who trust in His Son’s death for them, and then by giving them His Holy Spirit that they might put sin to death in their lives. So, if you want Him to be your king, be a sinner. Acknowledge your sins. Confess that because of them you are unlike God and unworthy of Him. Then, look upon Jesus, the Son of God, suffering and dying for your sins. He did so willingly, taking God’s punishment of them away from you and upon Himself, because He loves you. “He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,” Philippians 2 says. “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” – for you! “Father, forgive them” He prayed as He was being crucified – and, because of His death for us, the Father forgives us! “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed,” says Isaiah 53:5. We are healed to confess Jesus to be the Son of God and our Savior, and to honor Him with our voices and our lives. Thanks and praise be to God our Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen.