Summary: Behold, the King! 1) Jesus comes to bring salvation. 2) Jesus comes to accept adoration.
(A Confirmation Sermon)
2 years of Friday night classes, 150 memory assignments, 2 essays, 10 tests, and 1 exam. Wow, Monica and Vanessa. You’ve put in a lot of hard work to become a communicant member of this congregation. You’ve also had to prepare well for today’s service so that you would give clear answers to the doctrinal questions I’ve been asking you in front of the congregation. Would you be a bit surprised then, maybe even hurt, if I told you that today’s sermon is not about you? Oh, we’re impressed with how much you have learned. We’re delighted to hear your confession of faith. And we’re rejoicing with you on your confirmation day. But no, today’s sermon is not about you; it’s about Jesus. Don’t be hurt; instead behold the King, your King Jesus who comes to bring salvation, and to accept adoration.
Jesus is a king. There was no doubt about that on the original Palm Sunday 2,000 years ago. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people cried: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38a). But Jesus was not like any other king the people had seen. This king was riding a donkey, not a white stallion flanked by soldiers. I suppose that would be like the Prime Minister utilizing regularly scheduled Greyhound bus service to get to important state functions instead of taking the private jet! By his choice of transportation Jesus reminds us that he was a king who had come to serve and not to be served. The Old Testament lesson regularly read for this Sunday prophesied that Jesus would come to bring salvation (Zechariah 9:9, 10).
Unfortunately not many people of his day understood the nature of Jesus’ kingship. They thought that Jesus was going to bring salvation from tough times by setting up an earthly kingdom with free food and medical coverage. Perhaps, Monica and Vanessa, you’ve been tempted to think that following Jesus will bring you salvation from ever failing a test at school. Or maybe you think that being a Christian, a confirmed Christian at that, will bring you success in your social life at school. If we think, however, that our biggest challenge in life is passing our tests or being accepted by our peers, then we have not grasped the seriousness of our sin. The worst thing that could happen to us is not getting bad grades or having no friends; it’s leaving this world without the benefit of forgiveness. Jesus came to take care of that need. Like the hostage negotiator who willingly trades places with the hostage, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to trade places with us sinners when he suffered hell on the cross. What a king! He rules for us, more than over us.
And this same king has come to you, Monica and Vanessa. You didn’t invite him into your life but he came anyway when your parents brought you to be baptized. And he comes to you again today humbly wrapped up in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. No, outwardly there doesn’t seem to be anything special about this meal, just as it seemed to some that there was nothing special about the 30-something-year-old Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday. But this meal is special because Jesus is really here in the bread and wine and he comes to give you forgiveness.
Since the King has come how should we receive him? We will want to receive him as did the people of Palm Sunday. The praised him loudly not caring who heard, and they gave him their best when they threw their cloaks on the ground for Jesus’ donkey to walk over. These cloaks were not rags. They were coats that doubled as the only blanket many people had! Jesus accepted this adoration, and he expects it from us too. Why not? We’ve already pointed out how he came to die so that we might live.
Still, it’s not always easy to follow the Palm Sunday crowd’s example, is it? When we’re out with friends for a bite to eat, it’s easy to skip bowing our head and giving thanks to God for the food because we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves. Nor are we always eager to give Jesus the shirt off our back. When you’re tempted to think Jesus isn’t worth your praise, your time, your talents, or your treasures, Monica and Vanessa, picture Palm Sunday. What you’ll see is a Jesus worth serving because while he is meek he is not weak. King Jesus demonstrated his powerful wisdom when he sent 2 disciples ahead to fetch the donkey on which he would ride. Jesus did not ask his disciples to find something, anything for him on which to ride into Jerusalem. No, he told the disciples exactly what to bring back, where they would find it, and what they should say when the owner asked them where they were going with the donkey. When the two disciples arrived in town they found everything just as Jesus had described. The fact that Jesus knew all these details demonstrates his omniscience – his divine ability to know all things. If Jesus knew that a donkey was waiting for him in the next town, he certainly knows what’s down the road for you, Monica and Vanessa. You might be wondering what it will be like to go to high school, and what lies beyond that for you. Well Jesus already knows. He has it planned out for you. No, he hasn’t give you the details but you can be certain that he’ll be with you and will protect you, just as he spoke up for the Palm Sunday crowd when the Pharisees demanded they be silenced. Put your trust in this king. Trust that following his Word will never send you on a fool’s errand.