This Sunday we commemorate when Jesus came into Jerusalem riding a donkey with the crowds laying down palms and shouting various acclamations from the Old Testament reserved for kings and, specifically, the Messiah (see especially Matthew 21:5, an amalgam of Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9). By Friday afternoon he would be executed a criminal. Jesus was obviously a different kind of king to the one that they were expecting. This Sunday I’ll preach on a few aspects of the symbolism in this text. Hopefully it will be a video sermon if all the tech works. But for now, this quote from Luther sums it up nicely, and is too good not to share:
’This Gospel (Matthew) wants to entice us to faith, above all else. But no one can accept this gracious Christ unless [they] believe that he is a Man and adopts the opinion of him that the evangelist gives. He is presented as sheer grace, humility, goodness, and whoever believes that of him is blessed. Look at him! He rides no stallion, which is war animal, and he does not come with fearful pomp and power, but sits on a donkey, which is no war animal but which is ready for the burdens of work that will help human beings. Thereby he shows that he does not come to terrify people, to drive or oppress them, but to help them, to carry their burdens and take them on himself.’ (As printed on p354 of F D Bruner, The Gospel of Matthew: A commentary, Volume 2, Eerdmans 2007).
The service for Palm Sunday will be in two main parts. We’ll remember Jesus entry into Jerusalem. Then, consistent with the custom of the Christian church through the year, we’ll switch over to the beginning of Holy Week and hear a reading of Jesus’ last hours before his death (The Passion).