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Archive for April 13th, 2014

They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road-St. Matthew 21: 7-8

 The other time of the Church year the Palm Sunday Gospel of our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is read is the 1st Sunday in Advent.  Advent and Lent, beside rhyming, have this in common both are about the Incarnation, the , Word becoming flesh. The Lord shed the clothes of His equality with God, the form of God and took on human form, born of the Virgin Mary.  Advent points us to  the Word became flesh, the Son of Mary, wearing the mantle of mortality.  Now in Lent and Holy Week, as the weight of His flesh sat  upon that donkey, riding triumphantly to the defeat of sin and death, mankind’s sin and death, by bearing sin and death for us all.  The donkey bore Him who bore the sin of the world and the crowds laid their cloaks on the road. No donkey, no man can carry the sin of the world, except the Lamb of God, true man and true God, 100%, 100%.

Natalie and I both noticed that the Palm Sunday hymns all mention children and she asked where are children mentioned in the narrative of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem?  We heard it in the Matthew 21.  The children in the temple, right after the triumphal entry,  were crying out in the Temple, the Temple, the Lord’s House, Hosanna to the Son of David!  The chief priests and scribes were indignant that the children were singing to Jesus.  Earlier Jesus was indignant that the disciples were preventing the children from coming to Him.  He said, for to such belongs the Kingdom of heaven.  It is said, Christmas is for kids…so is Holy Week. All who receive His kingdom, His reign as a child, trusting our heavenly Father who sent His only begotten Son.

I think it is reasonable to suggest Mary and Joseph told Jesus the reason they fled to Egypt, because King Herod killed all the male children under the age of 2 in Bethlehem.  The only begotten Son who said that if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Jesus to sin it would be better it if a millstone were put on his neck and he be thrown into the sea. We must remember that as we look at abortion, sexual and physical abuse of children, children left on their own with parents in the home.   Only in Matthew’s Gospel is it recorded Jesus’ prayer to the Father:

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

The wise and the learned, the scribes, elders, rulers don’t get it.  Grace is His gift and then to trust in true faith the One who entered Jerusalem to save us all.  The children made sweet hosannas sing.  If you don’t get grace you do not get grace, though His grace is abundant through the Gospel.  The children get it, as do all who know they can not save themselves.  The prayer just cited is part of our Lord’s invitation, come to Me all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  The children, along with the lame and the blind Jesus healed in Temple get it.  They were coming to Him just as He approached, the crowds laid down their cloaks, their spotted, soiled, sweat stained and sun-burned cloaks, even beautiful coats,  at His feet.  This laying down of the cloaks can mean to us the following:

First, laying down the cloak of deceit and sin,

“…we similarly are to deny ourselves, to denounce our fame, throw away our glory, remove from ourselves praise of self-righteousness. We are to give all glory to Christ alone. We are to acknowledge that only this King is able to do the highest good. His name alone is worthy of all glory (Psa. 115:1). That’s how the blessed elect in heaven toss their crowns before the throne of Christ and say: O Lord, not us, rather You alone are worthy to receive praise and glory and might (Rev. 4:11).” (Pastor and Professor Johann Gerhard)

 Secondly,  the laying down of the garment of sin reminds us that in Holy Baptism we are clothed in Christ, as it is written in Galatians 3: 27, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  Christ Jesus is the Church’s “Sunday best”.  He is your Sunday best.

It is written in Jude 23:

“In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people,devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

The Lord’s Sunday Best, His mercy, is for your neighbor as well.

 Thirdly,  The cloaks of sin can be laid down, when we see in mirror of God’s Law, the 10 commandments how filthy they become.  We lay that down in Confession and contrition.  He alone absolves, makes clean, as we prayed Psalm 51 some 40 days ago, this still is part of the Church’s prayer every day:

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Baptized into His Name, the Name above all names,  washed us in His forgiveness or absolution. When we are tempted, we call upon the Name of the Lord. When we fall, we call upon the Name of the Lord.

Fourthly, The laying down of our cloaks reminds us of death, physical death, and the hope of the resurrection unto eternal life with Jesus.  Our souls will not go on naked in eternity but in Christ, who rose bodily from the dead we to shall so rise.  As it is written:

 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5: 4-5

 Finally, this is the same Lord who chides us all about worrying about what we are to wear, And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (St. Matthew 6)

Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels in the sky.

 Jesus’ light would not shine this week. The One who was transfigured before Peter, James and John would be disfigured, as the Prophet Isaiah foretold beyond all recognition and human semblance.  Stricken, smitten and afflicted by God, a  Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53) would Himself willingly cast aside the beauty of His cloth, seamless and whole and die naked on the cross. The crowds and the children sang Hosanna, literally, Lord help, Lord save. The children knew only Jesus could so ride by Himself into Jerusalem.

 It’s as if the apostle wants to say: There are many of those who preach themselves, who present dreams and ordinances of men, who direct everything to the end of themselves being held in high esteem. But that should not be. Christ alone must be set upon the colt. He alone with His Spirit and Word should rule in the hearts of mankind. His glory alone should be sought and proclaimed…(Pastor Gerhard)

 The Lord Jesus entered into the world in His first coming, His Nativity,  so He could enter into Jerusalem and so He will come again a third time in the Resurrection on the last day.  Thy Kingdom come is for that Day and for this hour now. He entered into Jerusalem so He enters His Church daily, and has made our bodies His temple receiving the fruits of His Cross, the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Our Lord came down from heaven and died on the cross and has entered my heart. Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.

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