Sunday, April 23, 2017

Don’t fear; God counts faith in Him as righteousness.

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love.  Amen.

Genesis 15:1-6  After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward."  2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?"  3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."  4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir."  5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them."  Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."  6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Don’t fear; God counts faith in Him as righteousness.

Dear friends in Christ,

            The patriarch, Abram, in company with three Amorite allies had just led a small contingent of servants to a great victory that rescued Abram’s nephew, Lot, from captivity.  Abram’s victory over five kings was complete, and one of the recued kings offered him all the plunder for his help.  Out of faithful trust in the Lord, Abram refused to accept anything but the provisions his men had used in the rescue.  He didn’t want anyone to think his wealth had come in any way but from the Lord. Abram wanted the world to know that the Lord, alone, was his protector and provider.

However, I find it interesting how the Lord God addresses Abram immediately after this incident in which Abram had demonstrated such faithfulness.  “The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward.’"    Doesn’t it strike you as a bit odd that the first thing the Lord tells victorious Abram is “Don’t be afraid.”? 

God had made Abram a very rich man.  The man had a multitude of servants, immense flocks and herds; it is thought he might have been a successful trader as well, and Moses tells us that Abram was loaded with gold and silver in vast quantities.  So, on the heels of such a great victory, why would Abram be afraid?  And, what did he hope to receive from the Lord?  Was it glory he sought?  Or more power?

 We could speculate about many things, I suppose, but Abram’s response gives us a pretty good clue.  Abram said, "‘O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’  And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’" 

This was now at least the fifth time Abram had received a message from the LORD.  The previous conversations foretold that Abram’s descendants would fill this land he was now living in as a foreigner.  After decades of marriage in which Abram had gone into Sarai’s tent perhaps literally thousands of times expecting their union to produce a child, nothing had yet come of it.  God’s promise of a son for Abram remained unfulfilled.

Now, we need to understand that Abram’s disappointment was more than just mere sorrow for not having a large family.  Abram knew that in this promised child lay his salvation—also that of the world—for the Lord had said, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:3)  Abram had a load on his mind.  Was he afraid he and Sarai were growing too old for the promise to come true?  Was he afraid that his sins had made him ineligible to receive this blessing?  To all of Abram’s concerns and fears, the Lord tells him simply, "Do not be afraid.”

How about you and me, what are we afraid of?  Are we afraid that when we plant corn, if it doesn’t rain, the Lord won’t give us a crop?  Or if it rains too much, too soon, are we afraid, then, that it won’t be possible to get a satisfactory crop?  Do we fear that the money won’t be there when loans have to be repaid?  Are we afraid of any number of diseases that could rob us of our health?  As we get closer to our graves, are we afraid that maybe we aren’t good enough for God to want us in His heaven?  That last fear troubles far more people than many of us might suspect.

The message of our text is simply this: Don’t fear; God counts faith in Him as righteousness.  Of all the things Abram could have been afraid of, the only one that really matters is the fear concerning salvation.  However, if we have God’s forgiveness and salvation, then in the grand scheme of things, everything else is just fluff.  So what if the crop fails, God has promised to give us all good things.  So what if the banker hauls all our stuff away, what of it can we take to heaven anyway?  So what if we die?  We know heaven is our real home!

Now, I know that might sound a bit flippant, but all of the stuff of this world, both the good and the bad, really doesn’t matter in the end.  What matters is that God was faithful to His promise to send a Savior for the world through Abram’s descendant. 

Abram had to wait many more years before he could begin to see the promise fulfilled.  Only at the age of one hundred did Abram finally meet the promised son, and that son had only two sons.  So even that would have seemed like a very slow start to the promises God had made.  Ultimately though, none of that mattered to Abram.  “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”  All of the Old and New Testaments should convince us that this same surety is ours.  God will do exactly what He says He will do and at the exact time He has planned to do it.  Any worry we might have is simply not trusting God to keep His promises.

As always, we have plenty to be sorry for.  But, that’s why God sent His Son into the world.  God didn’t send Jesus to save those who would be worthy.  In fact, no one on earth would ever qualify.  Therefore, no matter what fears might ever trouble us, we can turn to God’s Word and find comfort, strength, assurance, and certain hope.  When we worry about how much the ground will produce or how the economy will do at any particular time, we can be strengthened by the assurance of the Scripture: that “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) 

The Holy Spirit knew we would have troubles, so He promises to take care of us.  Jesus said, “Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

Last Sunday, we celebrated a resurrection from a grave.  That doesn’t happen if God’s Word can’t be trusted.  However, that is exactly the point of Easter: God’s Word is completely reliable.  When Jesus rose out of that tomb alive once more, that was God’s announcement to the world that Jesus’ word from the cross, “It is finished!” meant precisely what He said.  The devil is defeated.  Sin has been paid for.  The promise to Abram that his Descendant would be a blessing to the whole world has been accomplished. (Genesis 12:3)  So, when the Lord declares your sins forgiven, He means it.  When He promises that His Son took away the sins of the world, you can rely on that message. 

The Bible makes no demand that we earn God’s forgiveness.  It simply offers us the gift of forgiveness and salvation through faith in Jesus.  And, even that faith isn’t something we do on our own for Paul writes, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Therefore, if we should start to be afraid that we aren’t good enough to earn forgiveness, have no fear, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.(2 Corinthians 5:19)  Furthermore, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set [us] free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)  That was God’s message to Abram that long ago day when He said, "Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward."  God always keeps His promises!

Dear friends, Don’t be afraid; God counts faith in Him as righteousness.  Your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake, and since the curse of sin has been removed from us on the cross, even death need no longer trouble us, for “If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 6:8-11)  This is the blessed faith God gave you in your baptism.  Don’t be afraid; God counts faith in Him as righteousness.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting.  Amen.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Repent: Turn to Jesus for resurrection and life.

Sermon for Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017
Grace, joy, love, and peace to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our risen Savior.  Alleluia!
Luke 24:1-8   On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?  6 He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  7 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"  8 Then they remembered his words.
Repent: Turn to Jesus for resurrection and life.
Dear fellow redeemed,
            Expectations: we all have them.  We wake up in the morning and we expect to go to work.  We expect our spouse to wish us a good morning.  Yet, somehow, expectations don’t always turn out the way we expect.  Years ago I got to work one day and found out I no longer had a job.  The human resources director said I should have received a letter in the mail.  Sure enough, when I got home, the letter was there in the mailbox.
            Sometimes, though, our expectations aren’t disappointed, but rather, things turn out actually much better than we had expected.  A bad storm that was forecast makes a sudden turn during the night and instead of thunder, lightning, hail, and tornados, we wake up to blue skies and birds singing a happy song.  The old job, you were growing bored with, is suddenly transformed by a surprise promotion with an increase in salary, a big office, and exciting perks. 
            Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus’ friends and followers woke up on the first day of the week with expectations of dealing with the aftermath of His death.  The women expected to spend that day washing the body and giving it a proper Jewish burial ceremony.  Jesus’ disciples, on the other hand, expected that at any moment, the authorities might still come looking to arrest them as co-conspirators with Jesus.  Yet, their expectations all turned into joy with the resurrection and life they found where Jesus had been laid to rest.  Dear friends, their unexpected joy teaches us to Turn to Jesus for resurrection and life.
            Until Jesus enters our life, no one expects that death will end in life.  It seems like such a foreign concept to the eyes of those left behind.  We can see the dead body; we see the grave, but for now, we don’t get to see any of the new life.  It was the same way with those women on that first Easter morning.  Luke tells us what those women expected: “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.”  This was exactly normal behavior in their society.  The survivors took care of their dead personally.  Their love would be displayed by honoring the body.
            All of those women had been dear friends of our Savior.  His mother, of course, and a woman Jesus had healed by driving out the demons that afflicted her.  Several had been strong supporters of our Savior’s work, even providing funds from their own meager means of living.  That previous Friday, those women had stood there beneath Jesus’ cross faithfully keeping watch, while other followers had run away.  Those women kept their loyalty on display as Jesus died, and they expected to honor Jesus again on Sunday morning at His grave. 
A cemetery isn’t a favorite place for very many of us.  Oh, we try to keep them looking pretty, so death can be covered up.  People walk the grounds remembering their departed loved ones, appreciating the manicured lawns, beautiful flowers, majestic trees, and stately headstones.  But, deep inside, no one really wants to be there.  There, we are always reminded of the wages of our sins.
            The place where Jesus was buried was also a place dressed up to hide death.  The tomb was brand new, most likely quite elegant.  It didn’t belong to Jesus.  Actually, it was a loaner from His friend, Joseph of Arimathea.  Still, that rich man’s top of the line tomb wouldn’t have been able to make up for the battered condition of Jesus’ lifeless body the women were expecting to find—that is, if they could even get in to do their burial customs.  But, who would roll away the large stone, they couldn’t guess.
            Every part of this picture is just what we would expect to see: a dead man, a tomb, sorrowing friends coming to the cemetery to take part in one last appropriate good-bye, many tears, and grief-stricken survivors just trying to make it through the day.  However, if that would be all that Luke could tell us, you and I wouldn’t be here this morning.  If I left you there weeping at the tomb, our hopes for heaven would be meaningless, and we would be holding a funeral for the death of the Christian faith.
            But, there was nothing that morning that fit expectations.  “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.”  They were there at the very first light of day, who could have already been there to open the grave?  Who would want to?  And, where were the Roman guards the Jewish leaders had put in place?  Certainly none of Jesus’ followers would have dared mess with those professional soldiers.  Challenging those brutes would have meant certain death.  Yet, the grave was open.
            Those women were on a mission to honor Jesus’ body, so they didn’t question their expectations, they just stepped into the tomb, and experienced the confusion of the first Easter day.
            How astonished they must have been.  Nothing was what they expected.  They found no death!  There was no body!  Where was Jesus?  Who could have done this?  Then all of a sudden, they were no longer alone.  “Two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" 
            What a sweet, short sermon to hear on what had been one of the worst days of their lives!  “He is not here; he has risen!”  Now, there are many people in our world who don’t believe this happened.  Maybe some of you here this morning question how you can believe me.  But, it’s not just me telling you.  Those were angels of heaven announcing the news.  Whether you believe what the Bible says or not doesn’t change the reality—Jesus rose from the dead.  The Easter resurrection really and truly happened, and numerous eye witnesses recounted what they saw both that day and in the days after.  Therefore, if you have doubts, turn away from the devil’s lies.  Instead, turn to Jesus and live.  Turn to Jesus who is the resurrection and the life.
            But, what if you still can’t believe what your eyes and ears are telling you?  Just for a moment, let’s pretend that the Roman guards Pilate assigned there were somehow overwhelmed or intimidated by some unarmed Galilean fishermen so they could steal Jesus’ body.  And maybe, those women, and the disciples they soon summoned, merely suffered hysterical delusions, and maybe those two angels were just figments of their imaginations.  Maybe, let’s say, Luke just made it all up!  But, then what?
            Well, if that is the case, then you are left in your sin.  St. Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.(1 Corinthians 15:17)  If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then His words from the cross, “It is finished,” merely mean that He finally realized His end had come.  But, a dead Jesus is no Savior at all.  If Jesus stayed dead, then it doesn’t matter if He lived and was crucified by the Jews and Romans.  However, if Jesus stayed dead, then we still have to deal with the God who declared: “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)  And, if you expect that you too will someday die, then what is your answer for when you meet Him?
            If Jesus stayed dead, then what is your comfort when your loved ones depart this life?  And what is your hope for that day the hearse comes calling for you?  In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul challenged those who deny that resurrection is possible: “If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either…Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” (1 Corinthians 15:16, 18)  If Jesus didn’t rise from the grave, then a cemetery is truly just a dead end.  If the resurrection didn’t happen that first Easter morning, then the future can only be bleak for everyone on earth.
            Finally, if Jesus stayed dead, then there really is no reason for anything we do in this world.  “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.(1 Corinthians 15:14)  If Jesus stayed dead, then my preaching is just wasted air, your faith is just self-delusion, and there really is no reason to obey any law or worry about doing any good in your community because it is all meaningless without Jesus.  If Jesus stayed dead, just go get what you want as long as you can.  But, if that is what you have decided to do, I must warn you, you are fighting against God and against His good will for you.
            You see, Jesus has risen from the dead just as He promised He would.  That truth is the most documented event you can find in the history of the world, witnessed by more than five hundred people who saw Jesus alive after His resurrection, who heard Him speak, watched Him eat, and touched His hands, feet, and side with the wounds still evident.  God staked His entire reputation on that one day, this one moment in time when His Son would make every promise to save sinners come true.
            Dear blood-bought friends, Luke didn’t lie, nor did John, or Mark, or Matthew.  Those women at the tomb didn’t suddenly turn hysterical; they were astonished by the truth of what had happened there.  Those angels weren’t imagined; they were God-sent messengers, proclaiming the best news any on us can ever hear, confirming that hundreds of Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled and Jesus is the Promised Messiah.  This Jesus truly won the victory for you over sin, over death, over Satan, over hell. 
            Easter is a day no natural man could ever have expected, nor could it be imagined.  It could only be God-given.
            What does mankind really need for eternal joy and everlasting life?  We need God’s forgiveness.  And the terrible price for our forgiveness was seen there on the cross at Calvary and in that rich man’s grave.  But there almost two thousand years ago, Jesus made the payment in full, and kicked the devil right square in the head.  The Bible tells us, He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.(Romans 4:25)  Your sins are forgiven!
            What do you need in the cemetery?  You need help with death.  My friends, in Christ, death is defeated, not will be some future day, but already right now.  The grave makes death look like the end, but for those who believe it is just the beginning of the grandest life one could hope to live.  Our risen and living Savior will also one day raise us up out of those dirt-covered beds just as He raised Himself.  In Jesus, we live even though we have died.  In Jesus, we rightly expect a resurrection to joy.
            What do you need for the trouble of life?  You need hope.  Troubles come from every side.  As long as this earth continues there will be wars and rumors of war.  There will be pestilence and sorrow, poverty, hatred, bigotry, and enemies trying to kill Jesus’ friends.  There are many times when we may feel God has forgotten us, but God never forgets a promise.  We don’t put our hope for now or the future in some dead prophet.  Our hope for now and forever is in the risen and living Savior of the world, the very Son of God who is with us through all these trials and dangers, who has already conquered every enemy we really needed to fear.
            What did you expect to see here today?  A boring preacher spouting off about how you should live?  A marvelous concert of some powerful music?  I suppose it depends on what you believed when you woke up this morning.  If forgiveness of sins and victory over death don’t impress you, the best you can find today is probably a chocolate bunny or your favorite jelly beans.  But, if Jesus did rise and walk out of that tomb, fully alive body and soul, on the day all the evangelists tell us He did, then you have every reason to worship Jesus as Savior and God, and you have every hope of your forgiveness and life that never ends, for that hope is a certain and sure promise of God, that what you have in every Easter celebration is forgiveness full and free, complete washing away of all your guilt, joy no one can take away, and a Friend who has crushed the serpent’s head and thrown open the gates of heaven to you and to all who believe.  And for all people, Jesus is the certain example that our bodies too will be raised out of the grave, no matter how hard some may tried to hide it.
            Through His powerful Gospel and the precious body and blood the Lord Jesus shares with you this morning, may He keep you in this true Easter faith until that day the trumpet sounds announcing His return in all His majestic glory to take us home to the mansions He has promised.  For resurrection and life, turn to Jesus.  Only to Jesus.  Always to Jesus.  He is risen!  Alleluia!  Amen!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Your humble King comes to save you.

Sermon for Palm Sunday, 4-9-2017
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Savior and King.  Amen.
Matthew 21:1-11  As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,  2 saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her.  Untie them and bring them to me.  3 If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."  4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:  5 "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"  6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  7 They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.  8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  "Hosanna in the highest!"  10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"  11 The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
Your humble King comes to save you.
Dear servants and saints in Christ Jesus,
            Who do you say Jesus is?  Remember when Jesus asked similar questions of His disciples?  He began by asking them who the people said Jesus is and then asked who they, as His disciples, were saying He is.   I would assume and hope that we have the same answer as Peter did that long ago day, but do we?  Who do you say Jesus is?  Or maybe, what do you make of Jesus; what does He do for you?  The answer of our text is that, Your humble King comes to save you.
            I suppose the first question that might come to mind is whether Jesus is a king?  And if so, king of what?  Some today would want to make Jesus a king on earth, just as there were many in the crowd that day who assumed Jesus was entering Jerusalem to begin His rebellion against Rome, a rebellion they assumed would lead to a great victory and His establishment of David’s kingdom, once again headquartered in Jerusalem.  The crowds who came to see Jesus enter the city certainly put their hope in Jesus as the promised Messiah.  We can tell by what many said about Him: "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  "Hosanna in the highest!" 
            Son of David had become code for the promised leader who would reestablish David’s glory.  There was just one problem, however; Jesus certainly didn’t seem to be armed for a battle with Rome.  In fact, He had never given any indication that He was raising an army, or plotting to overthrow the government, or encouraging rebellion of any kind.  On the other hand, Jesus had advised His friends, and His enemies, to pay taxes and give respect to whomever it was owed. 
As far as anyone could see, Jesus was a model citizen, and the only people who found reason to complain about Him were the Jewish teachers and authorities who feared losing whatever secular power they held.  Furthermore, at His trial coming up just a few days in the future, Jesus made it clear that He was not a ruler of any earthly kingdom.  Thus any dreams of making Jesus a king on earth are false.
            So, if Jesus isn’t a king of any earthly realm, why does Matthew report that Jesus fulfills the prophet’s words, "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you.’”?  Matthew wasn’t imagining anything.  Jesus truly is a King, as He told Pilate just a few days later: "You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world.” (John 18:37) 
            What we know, today, is that Jesus came into this world to be King of all things, not just of Israel but of all things everywhere.  Immediately before returning to His Father in heaven, Jesus declared, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18)  David praised God saying, You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” (Psalm 8:6)  Furthermore, for whoever might still think Jesus isn’t his or her king, the Holy Spirit had St. Paul write to the congregation in Rome, "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" (Romans 14:11)  Because of all this, we know and confess that Jesus is truly King of the world.  He is King of all believers who make up the people known here as the Daughter of Jerusalem which includes everyone chosen by God for His eternal kingdom, and Jesus is King even over those rebellious people who, guided by Satan, will be condemned to hell for rejecting God’s grace.  Therefore, to every person who ever lives, we can rightly say: Your humble King comes to save you.
            Now, certainly large crowds surrounded Jesus that day He entered Jerusalem in triumph.  However, it was still a surprising procession.  Some people had doubted Jesus would be coming to the Passover festival for it was known that the leadership planned to have Him arrested.  His own disciples were fairly certain that if Jesus went up to Jerusalem He would die there at the hands of His enemies.  So, why, do you suppose, did Jesus purposely make the scene He made?
            Jesus’ actions show us what kind of King He truly is.  Jesus wasn’t enamored of the pomp and glory that earthly kings demand.  Rather, Jesus was always committed to respecting His Father’s wishes, and He sought specifically to fulfill every prophecy concerning His entrance into the world and connected with His saving work.  Therefore, when the prophecy had been made that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, Jesus knew that was the way His Father wanted Him to arrive in that city at that appointed time.  In other words, Jesus is truly humble, just as the prophet reported.  Rather than seek His own way, Jesus did everything His Father asked, exactly in the way foretold.  More than that, Jesus didn’t enter the city to glorify Himself, but to honor His Father’s will that He die for the sins of the world, yours and mine included.
            Dear friends, who do you say Jesus is?  The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  "Hosanna in the highest!"  When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"  The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."  The Son of David, the Prophet from Nazareth, the One who comes in the name of the Lord, all these labels have meaning, and yet, many people throughout history have wanted to put their own meaning on those names.  To the Jews of that time, Son of David was code for Messiah, or Promised One.  Sadly, in many cases they assumed that meant an earthly king which Jesus clearly isn’t. 
Others assumed that the Prophet of Nazareth was merely another in a long line of teachers that one could chose to follow or to ignore.  Likewise today, many people assume Jesus was merely one of many teachers who have shown up throughout history teaching morals and religious thought.  Again, nothing could be further from the truth.  In addition, Jesus certainly was the Promised One, but what does that mean two thousand years later?
The answer can be found in the song the crowds sang that day.  "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  "Hosanna in the highest!"  The word, Hosanna! means “Save now, we pray!”  From that original meaning it had morphed into a song of praise for God’s mercy.  Now, we might question whether those people understood properly what they were calling out, but what really matters, today, is whether we understand. 
In this Son of David, we find both true God and true Man, and He is God’s answer to our need for salvation.  In this Man we find the hope of the world, the only hope for reconciliation with our Creator.  What this means is that Jesus was going up to Jerusalem surrounded by crowds of people who didn’t yet understand His mission, into the heart of enemy opposition planning to kill Him, to take on in battle the oldest, wiliest, wickedest, liar known to man.  This was to be the ultimate showdown between God and the devil for man’s salvation.  The victory is intended for you and me.
It all sounds a bit confusing, but Jesus was going up to Jerusalem to die so that the devil couldn’t win in his rebellion.  Jesus was boldly going to the place His enemies were plotting to kill Him, because that was God’s intention for His Son all along.  Not that God wanted the Judean people to rebel against Him as they did.  Yet, God was using their rejection of the Savior to make His Son our Savior, and theirs as well. 
Only Jesus could carry the sins of the world because Jesus is the only Man without any sin of His own, having perfectly obeyed God’s will and law on our behalf.  And, only Jesus could die yet be able to take up His life to live again, because He is both true Man, able to die, and true God able to conquer death and break its chains to rise alive from the grave.  Therefore again, we can boldly declare, Your humble King comes to save you.
For the world, and all its sins, Jesus humbled Himself to suffer the penalty sin demands, to live under the law on our behalf, to obey God the Father in every way in perfect harmony because we never could, and to take all the punishment and death we deserved.  All of this is why Jesus so resolutely marched into the very danger most mortals would readily flee. 
It is because of this unwavering commitment to saving sinners that we are still talking about Jesus today.  The Romans crucified thousands of men who no one remembers.  The Jews themselves had killed prophets sent by God, many of whom never had their names recorded in a book.  Throughout history, there have been bold rebel teachers, some more successful than others, but all other world-changing leaders have been claimed by the grave where their bodies lie to this day.  But not Jesus.
Jesus is the true One and Only.  Jesus is God’s choice to be our Savior and Redeemer.  And, Jesus lived that service of love perfectly, going all the way to the cross of death so that we may live. 
Who do we say Jesus is?  He is the Son of God and the Son of Man born of Mary.  He is both the Priest interceding with God on our behalf and the Lamb offered as the blood payment for all sin.  And God accepted that sacrifice, which is why next Sunday we will be celebrating the fulfilment of the prayerful shouts of those unintentional prophets worshipping Jesus as He entered Jerusalem to die. 
Save now, we pray.  That was God’s plan.  That was Jesus mission.  That is the message He gave us and the Good News we are to share with all: that Jesus is your King, the One Man God has given authority over all things in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.  Jesus has won you and purchased you for His kingdom at the cost of His own precious blood, asking nothing of you but your trust in Him. Your humble King comes to save you.  "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  "Hosanna in the highest!"  Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.  Amen.