Palm Sunday

Service of the Word

M:       We worship today in the Name of our Triune God:  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

C:        Amen.

Confession of Sins

 

M:       We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve Him as His dear children.  But we have disobeyed Him and deserve only His wrath and punishment.  Therefore, let us confess our sins to Him and plead for His mercy.

C:        Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth.  In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child.  But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray:  Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love.  Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.

M:       God, our heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins.  By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt forever.  You are His own dear child.  May God give you strength to live according to His will.

C:        Amen.

Prayer and Praise

 

M:       In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.

OH, TASTE AND SEE

C:        Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.  Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Your faithfulness continues forever.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.

 

PRAYER OF THE DAY

M:       Let us pray.

The minister says the Prayer of the Day.

 

We praise you, O God, for the great acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son, Jesus Christ.  As He was acclaimed by those who scattered their garments and branches of palms in His path, so may we always hail Him as our King and follow Him with perfect confidence; we ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

C:        Amen.

 

 

 

The Word

 

FIRST LESSON – Zechariah 9:9-10  (Sermon Text)

The prophet foretells the coming of Zion’s King to His city in humility and lowliness.  He enters “righteous and having salvation.”  The King’s procession is unlike that of any earthly monarch because He brings true peace between God and man.

 

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken.  He will proclaim peace to the nations.  His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.  (NIV1984)

 

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 24 

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it,

the world, and all who live in it;

for He founded it upon the seas

and established it upon the waters.

Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?

Who may stand in His holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

he will receive blessing from God his Savior.

Lift up your heads, O you gates;

be lifted up, you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

The LORD strong and mighty,

the LORD mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O you gates;

lift them up you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

Who is He, this King of glory?

The LORD Almighty, He is the King of glory.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning,

            is now, and will be forever.  Amen

 

SECOND LESSON – Philippians 2:5-11eba

The Lord Jesus is described in both His humility and His exaltation, in His perfect humanity and His full deity.  He is rightly called Lord, and to Him all creation must and will bow.

 

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death —even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (NIV1984)

 

 

VERSE OF THE DAY

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. (John 12:23)

 

Note:  During Lent the church refrains from using her most jubilant words of praise, the Alleluias.  They will return with the risen Lord at the celebration of Easter

 

GOSPEL LESSON – Matthew 21:1-11

As Jesus presents Himself as the Lamb of sacrifice, the crowds rejoice in songs of victory and praise.  He comes in fulfillment of the prophet’s words.  His kingdom is defined by the manner in which He enters:  in humility, yet bringing the greatest of blessings, righteousness and peace.

 

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 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.  If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”  This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:  “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.'”  The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  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.”  (NIV1984)

 

After the Gospel, the congregation says:

 

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

 

SERMON  The Amazing Season of Lent— God’s Amazing Humility!

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

There are certain times when you gather together for worship expecting to hear a very specific message.  For example, when you gather together for worship on Christmas you expect to hear about the birth of our dear Lord and Savior.  When you gather together for worship on Good Friday you expect to hear about the death of God’s Son on the cross of Calvary’s hill.  Easter Sunday brings with it the expectation that you will hear about the physical resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  And today, Palm Sunday, brings the expectation that you will hear about Jesus’ triumphal entry into the beloved City of Jerusalem— which is exactly what we are going to do!

 

Today we wrap up our sermon series entitled The Amazing Season of Lent.  Using the very familiar words of the prophet Zechariah let’s see how Palm Sunday reveals to us:  God’s Amazing Humility!  This morning as we focus on the King who rides into the city of God let’s address two questions.  The first question is:  Who is this King?  The second question is:  Why has He come?

 

The prophet Zechariah was born in Babylon during the captivity of the Jews.  When King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return home to Jerusalem the prophets Zechariah and Haggai went with them.  (See Ezra 5:1-2)  As you can imagine returning home to a city that had been destroyed and burned some 70 years earlier was not an easy task.  God’s people struggled to resettle the land of Judah, to rebuild their homes, to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.  To these struggling discouraged people Zechariah— who is known as the Prophet of Hope— brought a message of encouragement.  He encouraged the people of God to be zealous in rebuilding Jerusalem.  He encouraged the people of God to be zealous in rebuilding the Temple because the Temple of the Lord in the city of Jerusalem would be the visible assurance of God’s presence among His people.

 

Zechariah’s glorious message of encouragement and hope is beautifully brought out in the Messianic prophecy which serves as our text for today.  At a time when God’s people were indeed discouraged and downhearted Zechariah writes, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…He will proclaim peace to the nations.”

 

From our perspective as the New Testament children of God it is certainly not difficult to look at the words of this prophecy and answer the question:  Who is this King?  As we heard in our Gospel lesson for today (Matthew 21:1-11) this King is the “Son of David” who “comes in the name of the Lord.”  As we heard in our Epistle lesson for today (Philippians 2:5-11) this King is the One who is “in very nature God” and yet He was willing to “humble himself” by taking on our true human nature and as Paul told the Philippians He “became obedient to death, even death on a cross!”

 

That, my friends, is God’s Amazing Humility in a nutshell, isn’t it?  The true eternal Son of the one and only Living God, the King of kings who rules over the entire universe, the One to Whom every knee will one day bow— this King was willing to humble Himself beyond anything that human minds can comprehend— for you, for me, for the entire human race!

 

Five hundred years before this Messianic prophecy was fulfilled, five hundred years before this King triumphantly rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday the Lord’s prophet Zechariah also proclaimed to God’s people exactly why this King came into this world.  Zechariah says, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation…He will proclaim peace to the nations.”  As the true eternal Son of God our King Jesus is “righteous.”  He is holy.  He is perfect in absolutely every single way.  Since our King is “righteous,” since our King is holy, since our King is perfect He alone has the power, the right and the ability to come to us “having salvation.”  Now back in the days of Zechariah when a king came to one’s city the people of that city were expected to bring an elaborate and expensive gift to the king.  This King, however, comes to us and He brings to us the greatest gift of all— the gift of “salvation”!  In fact, my friends, the only way that we or anyone else can ever have “salvation” is if this King gives that precious gift to us!  Apart from Him there is no salvation!  (See Acts 4:12)

 

The salvation that we so desperately need, the salvation of our souls, is why this King came into our world.  The salvation that we so desperately want, the salvation of our souls, is why this King humbly yet victoriously rode into Jerusalem even though He knew that the shouts of “Hosanna!” would soon turn into cries of “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  The salvation that we so desperately need, the salvation of our souls, is based upon the rock-solid foundation that only this King could provide to us.  Zechariah points to this rock-solid foundation of our salvation when he says that our King will “proclaim peace to the nations.”  You, of course, know where and when this prophesy was perfectly fulfilled, don’t you!  In a locked room somewhere in Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday our crucified and risen King appeared to His disciples and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19)  Then the apostle John tells us, “He showed them his hands and his side” (John 20:20).  The cross of Jesus Christ (Pointing to the cross) is what gives us peace because the cross of Jesus Christ guarantees to us that “It is finished!” (John 19:30), all of our sins are completely forgiven; eternal salvation is ours through faith in what our King has done for us!

 

Now I will admit that I have often tried to picture in my mind what that first Palm Sunday must have been like.  The huge crowds of people joyously singing “Hosanna!”  The palm branches adorning the road.  Jesus of Nazareth humbly riding on the back of a donkey with His disciples walking beside Him.  Sometimes I have even wished I had been there so that I could have experienced that joyous event first hand!  Then I remember that I have experienced that joyous event many many times— and so have you!

 

Our King still comes to us today, my friends, in a way which causes us to marvel at God’s Amazing Humility.  When God’s holy Word is “connected” with ordinary water this King comes to us in a very powerful yet very humble way.  When God’s holy Word is “connected” with the ordinary elements of bread and wine this King comes to us in a very powerful yet very humble way.  And when our King comes to us today through His holy Word and through His holy Sacraments He still comes to us “righteous and having salvation,” doesn’t He!  Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism our King comes to us and gives to us the gift of eternal salvation by creating the gift of saving faith in our heart.  Through the Sacrament of Holy Communion our King comes to us to strengthen that gift of salvation by assuring us in a very tangible way that we are at peace with God, we are the saved children of God because our sins are forgiven!  And, every time we sit down to read and to study God’s holy inspired Word our King comes to us “righteous and having salvation”!

 

So you see, my friends, we might say that Palm Sunday is “re-enacted,” we might say that these words of the prophet Zechariah are “fulfilled” each and every time we come into contact with the Means of Grace that our King has so graciously given to us— the message of His Gospel in both Word and Sacrament.

 

Before I close, permit me to emphasize just one more point.  I think it is both important and beneficial for us to “connect the dots” between our sermon text for today and our reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  Our Epistle Lesson for today began with God the Holy Spirit saying to us through His servant Paul, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  What does this mean?  It means that we need to strive to emulate God’s Amazing Humility in our own hearts and in our own personal lives!

 

Right now it is not difficult to be humble, is it.  When a tiny little virus can sweep across our world and kill thousands of people, when a tiny little virus can all but shut down the entire American economy, when a tiny little virus can cause us to shelter-in-place for who knows how long— that is a very humbling experience!  But what happens when all the restrictions that have been placed upon us are taken away?  What happens when a vaccine is able to protect us against this virus?  Will we simply go back to being the same person we were a month ago?  Will we still show as much empathy and concern for others?    Will we still admit that the focus of our life cannot be on this world, on our material possessions, and on all the things that we enjoy in this life?  I pray that the good Lord will indeed use this pandemic to help all of us stay humble!

 

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  As you and I prepare to “wrap up” the Amazing Season of Lent with our celebration of Holy Week may God grant that these joyous confident words will fill both our hearts and our lives with hope and with humility each and every day.

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen

APOSTLES’ CREED

 

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

 

OFFERING  During this time of uncertainty we still yearn to bring our thank offerings to our dear Lord and Savior.  We ask that you continue to set your offerings aside so that when we are able to come together again in God’s House we will be able to place our offerings on His altar.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH

 

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, our gracious and glorious King, on that first Palm Sunday you came in triumph to Jerusalem with people shouting their “Hosannas” and little children singing your praise.  But you did not come to reign over an earthly kingdom.  You came in humility as the Prince of Peace to fulfill the Messianic prophecies and lay down your life on Calvary for the sins of the world.  Through the sacrifice you made, God and sinners are reconciled.  O Savior and King, accept our humble thanks for giving the kingdom of heaven to sinners like us.  We ask O Lord, that you would come and rule us with your grace, forgiving all our sins.  With your love, change our lives so that we no longer serve sin but only righteousness.  Cleanse our hearts with the purifying fire of your holy Word and Sacraments.  Give us faith to humbly trust you, courage to boldly confess you, strength to patiently bear our crosses, and zeal to joyously follow you all the days of our lives.

 

In Jesus’ Name we ask this and in Jesus’ Name we pray:

 

LORD’S PRAYER

C:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

 

M:       O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people.  Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

C:        Amen.

 

 

M:       Brothers and sisters, go in peace.  Live in harmony with one another.  Serve the Lord with gladness.

The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.  The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.

 

C:        Amen.

 

 

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