April 4-6, 2020
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Matthew 21:1-11
1. Jesus is in control—ALWAYS!
2. Jesus deservers our praise—ALWAYS!
3. Not everyone knows why!
Matthew 21:1-11 (EHV) “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Immediately you will find a donkey tied there along with her colt. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 Tell the daughter of Zion: Look, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their outer clothing on them, and he sat on it. 8 A very large crowd spread their outer clothing on the road. Others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them out on the road. 9 The crowds who went in front of him and those who followed kept shouting, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, asking, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Word and phrase etymology has always interested me. I think you are aware that American English has borrowed heavily from other languages. Sometimes you can figure them out. Sometimes not. Take “Holy Cow” for instance. How did that become a phrase of exclamation? Some websites suggest it comes from the Hindu religion’s treatment of cows as their most holy animal. If you look up “Holy Smoke” another exclamation commonly used, most agree it comes from the burning of ballots at the Vatican when a new pope is selected. Another one I’ve heard is Jumpin Jehosaphat. It’s always sounded cool to me. Nobody seems to know where that comes from. Here’s another one. Hosanna! Now that’s not popular as an expression in American English but it’s used regularly in the speech of the Church. As part of the Sanctus, the song of Communion, Hosanna is used. And certainly on Palm Sunday Hosanna is everywhere. Where did that word come from? Why are we saying it? Today we look to God’s Word for answers to those questions.
As you heard in the reading, on the 1st Palm Sunday Jesus was with His disciples heading to Jerusalem and getting ready to enter. He sends two of His disciples to a small village called Bethphage with some absolutely preposterous directions. “Go to the village ahead of you. Immediately you will find a donkey tied there along with her colt. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” Can you believe that? He’s asking the disciples to saunter into Bethpage, grab the first donkey/colt model they see and take them. When questioned, as they most certainly would be, a simple “The Lord needs them” would suffice. This is Passover week coming up. Jerusalem is packed with visitors. The donkey rental agencies have been booked solid for weeks! The authorities would be on high alert for donkey jackings. There is no way. A modern equivalent right now might be, go into an ER and take all of their PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, and if questioned say “The Lord needs it” and they’ll let you have it, right? No way! It’s preposterous.
And yet it happened exactly as Jesus said. “The disciples went and did just as Jesus commanded them.” Why? How? Because Jesus is in control, always. Matthew was careful to tell us, “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 Tell the daughter of Zion: Look, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The prophet Matthew referenced is Zechariah who served the Lord around 520 BC.. You heard the prophecy in our Old Testament reading. About 550 years before the first Palm Sunday Jesus controlled Zechariah so he would write down what would happen. 550 years later Jesus controlled what would happen in Bethphage.
Hosanna! That’s what we have to say to that! Whether it’s 520 BC, 30 AD or now Jesus is in control. He is in control always. What Good News this is! Jesus lives and He is in control in our time too. He is in control when our babies are born. He is in control when we die. He is control when our kids are living with us and we can take care of them. He is control when we or they are gone and we can’t. He is in control even when coronavirus is running out of control, our control that is not His Be safe. Be aware. Be worried? No, Jesus is in control always. Hosanna.
And so Jesus deserves our praise always. “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their outer clothing on them, and he sat on it. 8 A very large crowd spread their outer clothing on the road. Others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them out on the road. 9 The crowds who went in front of him and those who followed kept shouting, 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 people praised Him. Can you pick out all the different ways? First with their possessions. People used their coats for donkey padding and as their version of a red carpet. They used their abilities and ingenuity to cut branches to keep the dust down. They used their voices to praise which means to say good things about. Hosanna. Do you know what that word really means? “Save us now.” It’s a prayer directed to the one who has the power to help you in your time of need. They called Jesus the Son of David. That’s a title for the promised Messiah or Savior. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord identifying Jesus as the one who would save them from their enemies. Hosanna. Jesus deserved their praise.
And ours too. Always. It’s important for us to remember that praising Jesus includes more than what we do at church. Yes, using our possessions to spread the Gospel is important. If you are following a percentage giving plan, or our 10 for 10 plan Jesus deserves that, always, not just when things are normal. Yes, it’s important for us to use our abilities. We thank people like Carl and Beth Nolte, Josh Walker, Dave Hosbach and Jeremy Fredrich for using their abilities so we can continue to worship together albeit electronically. Yes, it’s important when we worship that we use our voices to say good things about Jesus, like Hosanna. The Apostle Paul also reminded us in the book of Romans to offer our bodies as living sacrifices as our spiritual act of worship. That reminds us to praise Jesus all the time, using our possessions to provide for ourselves and family as He desires or to help those in need. Using our abilities for His glory. He desires to use us to provide quality medical care and safety and good shoes and all the other tasks that need doing. We need to say good things about Jesus not just at church but to people who don’t have a church. Why?
But not everyone knows why Jesus deserves our praise. “When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, asking, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Like normally happens when there is a big tadoo people wanted to know who the celebrity was. What was all the fuss about? Notice carefully the response. “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” A prophet. Now hold it. You don’t say Hosanna to a prophet. You don’t ask him to save you. You say Hosanna to God. Only He can save. Not everyone in Jerusalem knew Jesus was God and that He would save.
Same thing today. Friends, I have some breaking news for you. We’re going to die. We are all going to die! Now I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. Unless Jesus returns while we are living we are all going to die. It probably won’t be from corona virus. Leading causes of death in America are heart disease, cancer and accidents. Those three alone account for almost 1.5 million deaths per year in America. In some way we are all going to die. That’s why it is important that everyone knows why we say Hosanna to Jesus. He saves. He saves from sin so that when you die heaven is your home. When we get there we can truly say, “Hosanna in the highest!” Amen.