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Palm/Passion Sunday

April 9, 2006

Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion                              Trinity Lutheran Church
9 April 2006                                                                          Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

St. Mark 15:1-39

All this king talk by the prophet Zechariah.  All the kingly imagery in Mark’s Gospel.  Any sightings of the king lately?  No, not Elvis.

Well then, which king?  Which king’s been spotted?  Answer:  King Jesus.

What kind of king is Jesus?  And why does He come?

To wage war against you?  Like a Scorpion King?  To take  revenge against his enemies?  Shock and awe our you into submission?  And if you won’t submit, then its off with your heads?  An eye for an eye — a tooth for a tooth — war policy? Do a little regime change by lobbing some bunker busters to settle the scores He has with you? 

Put the noose around your necks?  Maybe King Jesus has come to hang you high!  He’s just waiting to say:  “Go ahead punk!  Make my day!” 

Is that the kind of king Jesus is?  Is that why He comes?   To get even?  To give sinners what they deserve?  To berate and damn sinners?  That’s what the Palm Sunday crowd thinks.  They love that kind of
king.  If Jesus can pull that off, blessed is he!  So out come the welcome wagon of palm branches and shouts of acclamation.

But Jesus isn’t like that at all.  He won’t be King that way.  He comes in peace.  He rides on a donkey not a stallion.  Meek.  Humble.  No swords.  No armies. 

THERE’S ONLY ONE THING THAT IS UPPERMOST ON HIS MIND.  He’ll be King all right.  In happens in His brutal suffering and horrific lynching on the Cross.  Deep down in His bones He knows that that’s the only way.

It’s just the opposite of what the crowds expect or want.  But being King is not done by survey or opinion polls.  Being King is done only by Christ’ deep Passion.  Only by His Body going lifeless.  While we were yet sinners – the King died for us.

“Crucify him!” the crowds shout.  Pilate asks:  “Shall I crucify your king?”  “King?  You’ve got to be joking Pilate!  The only king we have is Caesar.”  Pilate caves to the political pressure and mob intimidation.  He sentences Jesus to death by hanging.  Death by crucifixion. 

In jest the soldiers drape the purple robe of royalty over His shoulders.  Crown of thorns pressed.  Pierces His head.  “Hail king of the Jews!” the soldiers tease.  Better show reverence to the make believe king.  So they salute Jesus with their spit. And with clenched fists they bust His jaw.  Crack His teeth.  Demolish His nose.  Shatter his cheekbones.  Blow after blow after blow with the makeshift staff.  His eyes are swollen shut.  The repeated floggings rip big chunks of flesh from His back and shoulders.  What searing pain.  What agony.

And then they torment Him some more.  “Not feeling so well your highness?  We’re so rude your grace.  You need a throne.”  So they hoist him on one.    Hands and feet stapled to the Cross with spikes.  Right through the bone.  

“Are you thirsty your majesty?  We seem to have forgotten our manners.  Here’s a sponge!  Sopped in spoiled wine vinegar.  Only the best for royalty!” 

It’s all a grizzly joke to them.  And yet it all speaks the truth.  Including the sign above His Head:  “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”   King.  What a King.  His reign is hidden under His misery.  That’s why we drape the crosses and crucifixes during Lent here at Trinity.

And then a most satanic temptation.  King Jesus came to save people.  If he’s going to save anyone he’d better get off the Cross.  And so Satan speaks through the crowd:  “If you come down from the Cross, then we’ll believe in You.”

A Crossless Christ.  No Body on the Tree.  “Climb down Jesus.  If you’re a king, then you don’t belong up there.  Kings of Israel aren’t supposed to suffer and die like that.  We don’t want a king like that.  Be a king of our desires.  Be a king the way we want.  Then we’ll believe in you.  We’ll be faithful even unto death for a Crossless Christ.  We promise.”

Divorce King Jesus from the Cross — no Savior.  No salvation.  Satan wanted that.  His plan fails.  His head is crushed.

King Jesus reigns.  “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. . . . And when the centurion who stood there in front of Jesus saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’”

We’re not  centurions.  But we too confess Son of God Jesus publicly as our King.  He has redeemed us a lost and condemned people. Purchased and won us from all sin, death and the power of the devil.

He’s baptized us into His Tree of the Cross death.  And He feeds us today with the fruits of this tree of life:  His Body and Blood.

Notice how He comes and how He treats you?  Meekly.  Gently.  His Passion.  His death.  For you.  All your sins — forgiven.  Salvation.  The whole enchilada in King Jesus.

See, your King comes to you righteous and having salvation.  Have a happy Holy Week.  In the Name of Jesus.

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