Almighty and everlasting God, You have caused Your beloved Son to take our nature upon Himself, that He might give us the example of humility and suffer death upon the cross for our sins: Mercifully grant us a believing knowledge of this, that we may follow the example of His patience, and be made partakers of the benefits of His sacred Passion and death; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.
3 “And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say,`The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,`Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.'”
6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.
7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.
8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David!`Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
These are Your words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
A Better King; A Better Kingdom
Dear fellow redeemed,
On Facebook I saw a video someone took of a train passing by, and on the train were an endless line of tanks and other military vehicles. Perhaps some of you saw it, too. It was quite a sight to see, there getting a glimpse at the military power of our nation. These vehicles are to be used for the purpose of protecting the freedoms and rights of this nation’s citizens. We take pride in that power, don’t we? We rely on it, lest we be taken advantage of and harmed by foreign nations. We want a powerful nation. God has given this authority to our government, as we read in Romans 13, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
Paul is saying nothing different than what Jesus said to Pilate. Pilate first said to Jesus, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus responded, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” God had given Pilate his authority to rule upon the earth.
Pilate had power and might. He had an army at his disposal. He had authority to put people to death, and the power to release them. His entrance into Jerusalem would certainly have looked much different than Jesus’ entrance. He wouldn’t be found riding a donkey, and he probably wouldn’t be travelling without a company of soldiers accompanying him. But that is the way it is supposed to be. The earthly authorities should have such power.
Now of course, when God establishes governments and gives men authority, such authority is to be used for good, to create peace and order, to protect a people and a nation, to preserve our freedoms, and uphold the sanctity of human life. And might is necessary for that.
And we as members of the kingdom of the left, are called to honor our authorities, for they are to be representatives of God to rule this kingdom on earth. Paul’s is quoted in the Small Catechism’s Table of Duties, on this matter, “Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Rom 13:5-7).
It is good that we honor our nation, the authorities in the land, and the Constitution to which we are all bound. As Christians and by means of our citizenship here, we vow ourselves to this nation, and obedience to the laws of the land, of course as long as they do not contradict God’s laws, for we ought to obey God rather than men.
Yet we make a mistake to make a god out of this nation. Whether people see this nation as something to provide for all our needs, or whether people make the freedoms of this nation their religion. Anyone trying to make heaven on earth is confusing the two kingdoms.
So can we trust our authorities, in our government? Can we be certain that those tanks passing by on the train tracks will never be used against us?
“Trust not in princes.” So says the psalmist. “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psalm 146:3-5).
And it is the LORD in whom we trust and rely. We make our vows to God. Allison will be confessing Him as LORD, and will make a vow to remain faithful to Him, to His kingdom, and to His doctrine, even unto death.
And in Him is the far greater kingdom. For His entrance into Jerusalem shows that He is a king of a different sort. Not one like Pilate. Not one like Herod. He is not threatening to be a powerful political leader. Rather, as Zechariah foretells, He enters into Jerusalem humble and lowly. He is a king of a different kingdom, one not of this world.
Luther says, “In the realm where He is king and Lord, he’s not concerned about teaching us how to farm, plow, so, harvest, be a housekeeper, pile up money, conduct war, or rule over land and people. All such things he entrusts to earthly kings and lords…Our Christ-king, on the other hand, wants us to know how to inherit the kingdom of heaven, how to be saved and become eternally rich, so that we may finally enter that other better life.” This life is temporal, one day we will leave it all behind, but Christ comes that we may be heirs of His eternal Kingdom. And so it is for this kingdom that Christ goes comes to Jerusalem to obtain for Himself, that you may dwell in it.
The way by which He gains your entrance is by His life. He must sacrifice Himself. He must be the sacrificial Lamb to cover all your sins. And so He doesn’t enter as a conqueror who will fight for an earthly kingdom. Rather, there He goes humbly into Jerusalem, as a Lamb to die. He submits to the earthly authority, He submits to the sentence of death. The governing authorities which uses a cross to punish evil doers, punishes the Son of God, innocent of all sin, though carrying your guilt.
And thus through His sacrifice, you have life in His kingdom. There you have forgiveness, peace with God, and life without end.
This is the kingdom of heaven. It is not found in earthly power, might, and authorities. It is found in Christ, our crucified, and now exalted, King of grace.
And so if we, on this earth, live in great wealth and peace and freedom, there will be a time where we will die and leave these things behind. For such blessings are only temporal. Yet, we have a much better treasure, Christ our King and His heavenly riches which nothing, not even death, can take from us.
Or if we, on this earth, live in dreadful poverty, and utter unrest, and our freedoms taken away, (for who knows what your future holds, Allison, since we see this culture becoming more and more hostile to Christianity) yet we know that in Christ, we have a kingdom in which we are blessed now and forever.
And so we live in this kingdom of the left, living out our duty to be good citizens, being led by the Holy Spirit, and guided by our Lord’s Word doing what is best for our neighbor and our country. Yet we place much greater value upon the Lord’s Kingdom, which is everlasting, and is most blessed. And so we vow ourselves to the Lord for He entered into Jerusalem in lowliness for our eternal salvation. And we vow ourselves to the faithful use of His Word and Sacraments, for that is the means by which He draws us and preserves us in the true faith and in the citizenship in His kingdom.
And even as we vow ourselves to Him, we do not rely upon our power to keep it. Allison said, with the help of the Lord. Our Lord gives you such a will, but even better, the Lord has vowed Himself to you. He has vowed Himself to His Bride, His Church. He has washed her with water and the word, sealing her with the Holy Spirit. In great love He goes to Jerusalem to suffer and die for you. And He is risen again to guard and keep you in the true faith. He holds you in the palm of His hand, and no one can snatch you out of His hand. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against His kingdom. He keeps you with His Gospel. Now that’s a power beyond an army of tanks or anything else you can find in the kingdom of the left. 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, forevermore. Amen.