Summary: A funeral sermon.
Dear Friends and Family of Shirley,
I had heard about them of course but I never met one until I got to know Shirley. Royal watchers. That’s who I’m talking about. Shirley knew all about the comings and goings of the British royal family. If I didn’t hear a story about Princess Margaret whenever I would visit with Shirley, I was sure to see a magazine with a picture of Princess Di on the cover. That’s one reason I picked the sermon text I did for Shirley’s memorial service. Recording the events of Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Jesus was crucified and then rose again, the Apostle Matthew repeated this Old Testament prophecy: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey’” (Matthew 21:5).
While Shirley was interested in the British royal family I don’t think they were interested in her. I don’t even think they knew she existed anymore than the Queen knows you or I exist. But there is one royal who is very much interested in Shirley. He is a king descended from the line of David. This king came riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey for Shirley, and for you and me. I’m talking about Jesus of course. Through the words of our text and the events of Palm Sunday we learn that in Jesus we have a king who is gentle and humble. He didn’t cruise into Jerusalem on a white stallion, disappointed there weren’t trumpets to announce his arrival. He came to Jerusalem to serve and to save us. You see we need a king who comes to us because we cannot go to him. Shirley may have had a sense of style with her leopard print scarves and fancy hats but she didn’t have what it takes to present oneself at the doors of heaven and expect entrance. Shirley confessed as much whenever she attended worship or received Holy Communion privately. She knew that she did not always speak kindly of the people around her or put the best construction on the things they said to her. In short, Shirley confessed that she was a sinner that deserved God’s eternal punishment.
But to her rescue came King Jesus. This king did not save Shirley by shedding the blood of enemies; he shed his own blood to pay for our sins. The door to heaven stands open to all. And now this great king has come for Shirley to escort her through those doors. I don’t suppose Shirley cares anymore about what’s going on among the British royals. She now stands with other believers in heaven talking and singing about the glories of King Jesus. She does this free of pain. And when Jesus raises her body on Judgment Day she will continue to praise him without the slightest effort to catch her breath or worry that her heart might give out, for Jesus will give her a body that will never wear out or die.
You may not be interested in the British royals but you ought to care about King Jesus. After all he’s interested in you. He knows that you exist. He knows all about your troubles and concerns. In fact he has come to you today gently and humbly through his Word. How will you receive him? Will you be like the Palm Sunday crowd that eagerly shouted: “Hosanna in the highest!”? Or will you be like those who urged the Palm Sunday crowds to be quiet? In other words do you get excited when you think about Jesus and what he’s done, or does it make you uncomfortable when people talk about this king? You know you ought to read your Bible, teach your children about Jesus, and use your talents to serve him but you haven’t, at least not as well as you could be, and so your conscience bothers you. Most kings don’t like to ignored. Jesus is no different. In fact he demands our full attention. Still he comes to you gently today urging you to repent and assuring you that he has forgiven your sin of relegating him to an unimportant position in your life.
Become a faithful “royal watcher” as was Shirley. No, not one who watches the British royals but one who watches for the king of the universe. King Jesus will come again. He’ll come, not on a donkey with a rag-tag group of disciples in tow, but riding on a white stallion accompanied with his angels and all believers in heaven – including our dear Shirley. Put your faith in Jesus now and you’ll be ready to greet him...and Shirley. Amen.