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Matthew 21:1-9
How the Lord Christ reveals Himself

And when they were near Jerusalem, and had come to Beth-phage, to the Mountain of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, Saying to them, Go into the little town in front of you, and straight away you will see an ass with a cord round her neck, and a young one with her; let them loose and come with them to me.  And if anyone says anything to you, you will say, The Lord has need of them; and straight away, he will send them.  Now this took place so that these words of the prophet might come true, “Say to the daughter of Zion, See, your King comes to you, gentle and seated on an ass, and on a young ass.” And the disciples went and did as Jesus had given them orders, and got the ass and the young one, and put their clothing on them, and He took His seat on it.  And all the people put their clothing down in the way; and others got branches from the trees, and put them down in the way. And those who went before him, and those who came after, gave loud cries, saying, Glory to the Son of David: A blessing on Him who comes in the name of the Lord: Glory in the highest. (Matthew 21:1-9 BBE)
1. The Jews had many beautiful and glorious promises of Messiah, or Christ, coming to earth, founding an eternal kingdom, saving His people from all evil, and being their Helper for all eternity. The prophets of old talked a lot about this glorious kingdom to come: the Kingdom of the Messiah. The Jews knew these verses very well.
2. However, there were also the false preachers and the teachers of the flesh who taught that the Messiah would come in worldly glory and splendor, like an earthly king who lives in abundance and glory, and that the Messiah would turn the people of Israel into princes and regents. They still think that this will some day happen and they will become lords, and the heathen will be their servants. Such a Messiah they wait for; they have no need for a Messiah who redeems them from their sins, and saves them from eternal death.
3. In order to warn the Jews so that they wouldn't be betrayed by their false teachers, the Lord God sent word to them already a long time before Christ actually came by sending the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah told them that the Messiah would not come to them like an earthly king in all of his worldly splendor, but that He would enter Jerusalem as a beggar, riding on a donkey. You see, the Jews have no excuses left. They are not able to excuse themselves and say, “If we would have known that our king would come to us as a poor beggar, we would have received him.” The prophets had told them all about Christ, or Messiah. In broad daylight, so that all eyes could see Him, Christ entered Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed donkey without saddle and bridle. The disciples even had to put their coats on this little donkey's back so that Christ could ride on it. You see, they really have no excuses left: the prophets had told them that Messiah would enter Jerusalem, not as a rich king in all his splendor and his power and might, with army of mercenaries, and with sword and spear, and on a great glorious horse, but that He would enter Jerusalem -as the evangelist repeats the old prophecies - in gentleness, or as the prophet says, “in poverty and misery”. It is as if the prophet meant to warn everyone by telling them to watch for the donkey. If someone comes riding on a donkey -- He will be the Messiah. He tells them to be careful in their judgment and not to gawp, or to expect golden crowns, rich linen, or other items made from gold or silver. Christ will come with a saddened and gentle heart, riding on an ass. That is all His splendor and glory: a saddened and gentle heart. This, His splendor, all the world will see.
4. The Messiah would ride into Jerusalem exactly as the prophets had prophesied centuries earlier. And so, it was important for the Lord Christ to ride into Jerusalem exactly as the prophets had foretold, and to do it in broad daylight so that everyone would see. He didn't enter Jerusalem alone with His disciples, no, the people of Jerusalem greeted Him; they called Him Son of David and wished Him all the best as king entering His kingdom. You see, all of Jerusalem had seen Him coming; they even had hailed Him as the Son of David. The Jews should have known who He was; Zechariah took care that they should know not to expect an earthly king entering Jerusalem in all his glory and might, but that they would expect a poor beggar to enter Jerusalem as their king. Zechariah had told them that their future king would not look like a rich multi-millionaire, but like a poor person who does not even own the donkey he sits on.
5. However, Zechariah told them that this beggar-king would have power which no king of the world ever has had, no matter how mighty and glorious he has been. This king of the Jews, he said is not a like a king of this world, but He is a Savior and a truly righteous person who will bring with Him righteousness and blessedness, and who will conquer sin and death. He is the absolute enemy of sin and of death; He will help us against these two if only we will be willing to receive Him as our king, believe in Him, and not be irritated by His lowly, borrowed donkey, and His lowly outward appearance. Whoever does this, his sin shall be forgiven, and death shall not be able to hurt him, but they shall receive eternal life. And even one dies and is buried, this will not be death to him, but sleep. By ascribing these two attributes to Christ (righteousness and that He came to be our Savior) God teaches us that Christ will be righteous, and that He will be our Savior who brakes the neck of the devil, and kills death. With these, He frees the ones who put their faith in Him from sin and death, and leads them toward a blissful, eternal life among the angels.
6. Christ lets the other kings have their splendor, palaces, riches, costly food, etc. -- He knows He has something, He, the beggar-king, has something neither the Pope nor the kings of the world have: they can't forgive even the smallest of your sins, and with all of their wealth, power, and splendor they can't heal anyone from even the smallest sickness, much less can they help anyone against eternal death and hell. However, this beggar-king is not only able to help me regarding my small sins, no, He is able to clean me from all my sins - even the greatest and most hideous ones. He comes to us and wants take it all away, not only sickness, but also even death, not only my death, but also the death of the whole world.
7. The prophet told the daughter of Zion not to be irritated by His miserable outer appearance, but instead open her eyes and ears to His words and His signs, not to look at His miserable little donkey, but listen to what is prophesied about the coming king. It is true He rides into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey without a saddle, or harness even, looking like a poor peasant, but He has all the power to take your sin away, to destroy death, to give you eternal saintliness, and eternal life. These are things one does not see on first glance. That is why you have to listen to Him and believe in Him. That is why Zechariah says, “Tell the daughter Zion...“ so that she knows this and is not irritated by the lowly appearance of the coming king. This all happens Zion's own good, because He wants to help the daughter of Zion against the devil, and death; He wants clean her from her sin and sanctify her.
8. If someone does not want to listen, but only believes in what he sees with his own eyes and touches with his own hands, he will not be able to understand the coming King. This King is different than all the other kings. Whatever these do, they do in their splendor and might; they always look great and heroic. You do not see this when you look at Christ. He put His great work of saving from sin into baptism. The eyes do not see anything other than normal water -- just as any other water. His Word is contained in sermons -- our eyes only see someone breathing and making sounds. However, we need to beware of listening to what our eyes tell us: it is better to close our eyes and concentrate on what our ears tell us. The Word of God tells us that Christ poured out His blood for the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. Such gifts He offers to us in our Baptism, Holy Communion, in sermons, and absolution. It is true, it seems unbelievable that through things as the bathing in water, His Word, and the sacrament of bread and wine, something like that should happen. However, do not let yourselves be deceived through your eyes. Way back then, in Jerusalem, when he came riding in on a lowly donkey soon to be crucified for our sin, He looked small and insignificant, too. However, as insignificant as He looked then, He still conquered sin, death, and hell for our good. The prophet said, “Men made sport of him, turning away from him; he was a man of sorrows, marked by disease; and like one from whom men’s faces are turned away, he was looked down on, and we put no value on him.” No one was able to look at Him because He looked so terrible after being tortured. You see, your natural eyes do not help you in this matter -- you need to listen to His Word and believe in Him.
9. The evangelist says, “Tell the daughter of Zion!“ and the prophet says, “Zion, be happy and dance, because your King comes to you. What kind of a king is it? He is a Saint of God, a righteous King, a Savior and a Helper. He wants to sanctify you, too, and He wants to be your Savior also. His justification and His righteousness He wants to pass on to you so that you are free from sin; He wants to give you His life so that through His death you will be saved from eternal death. So, do not be irritated by His lowly appearance, but thank Him for His life, and by comforted by knowing that He is your King who came to save you from sin and death, and to make you righteous before God, and to bless you eternally.
10. This is our King! To do the things I have mentioned before are His Kingdom and calling. He does not care for all the riches of this world; He does not care for crowns of gold, or any other-worldly splendor. No, what He cares for is our lives, and where we will spend our future once we have died. I want us to be able to say, “I am sanctified through my King Jesus Christ, He came in poverty, and died at the Cross of Calvary in order to sanctify me, and to kill sin and death in me. Whoever believes in Him according the Word of God will be saved. This is the reason why Christ imputed His righteousness and His holiness to you. We are poor, miserable sinners, but Christ comforts us in baptism saying to us, “Give Me your sin, and I give you in return My righteousness, My innocence, and My saintliness; let Me take away death from you, and put My life on you.” This is called the Kingship of Christ. His work it is to daily take off our clothes of sin and death, and to put on us His holiness and life.
11. Listen to what I say! You should rejoice to hear these things, and consequently straighten up and become pious. Alas, not many want to listen, but instead turn away. It seems to me the longer I am preaching the Word of God, the worse things get and people turn away to do the devil's work. If we look around us, we see the people getting stingier, more indecent, more ungrateful, etc.  Why is that? It is because the people do not like to listen; they do not care for God's Word, instead they take great care for their money and possessions. Alas, what a great treasure the Lord Christ has to offer us, -- but who cares for it? The Lord God seems to punish those who do not care for what He offers them by seemingly saying to them, “Why do you not thank Me for sending My one and only Son to earth to die for your sin? You don not thank Me, and so I will hand you over to sin and death; that is what you asked for, isn't it? Before, only one devil used you, now, several devils will ride on your back!” One sees this when he watches the citizens, peasants and freemen, living in their shameful, stingy, sexually offensive, and messy lives.
12. I warn you, my dear people, listen to the Word of God, listen to it with a delighted and thankful heart. From the bottom of your heart ask the Lord God to give you strong faith. Study the Word of God and keep to it, then it will grow fruit in you so that you will daily become more humble, obedient to God and His Word, sexually inoffensive, and pious. The Word of God creates neat, obedient, and pious people. The ones who listen to it, but do not care about receiving it, will become seven times worse off than they had been before they had heard the Gospel preached to them -- you can see that everywhere. Beware of being like these unredemptive people; the time will come when God will punish their evil behavior. Then they will get what they deserve.
13. And so learn the lesson of today's Gospel text very well. The true King now comes to us, because the Jews did not want to follow Him. Do not forget: whoever doesn't accept the Lord Christ as his King and Savior, automatically has to accept the devil as his king. That is hard!
14.  Our Bible text gives us an example of what it means to be a servant of Christ. Since the Lord Christ is a King, He also has subjects and a kingdom. His subjects are supposed to honor Him. In today's Gospel text, we see how this happens: here we see people who run beside Him as He enters Jerusalem on the donkey's back. They are not ashamed of His seeming poverty. The first ones who come after the Lord Christ are His apostles; they recognize the Lord Christ as their Messiah, who will sanctify them and help them against sin and death. This is also the reason why they bring Him the little donkey; they knew that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem on a donkey's back. The donkey is actually the sign that He is the true Messiah. With this, He shows the people that until then, they had carried the Law on their backs just as this little donkey carried the Lord Christ on his back. As they brought the young, untamed ass to Christ, so they will bring the untamed heathen to Christ, because the Lord Christ is a Savior of all men. Following the example of the apostles, all the good teachers and preachers should bring the people to Christ. This is called true worship: recognizing the Lord Christ as the Righteous One and Savior of all, and also leading people to Christ.
15. Another form of worship is it to sing ‘Hosanna’ to Christ on His donkey, just as the people shouted ‘Hosanna’ then. However, you can only truly shout ‘Hosanna’ after you have received Christ as your Savior and Lord. Once you have done this, you are supposed to do everything you can in order to support the furtherance of His Kingdom (don't pay attention to what the Pharisees and priests say). Hosanna means: Jehovah helps, Jehovah blesses the Son of David! It is the same as when we pray: Our Father in heaven, Your Kingdom come… Do not forget that the devil and his hordes will do everything to keep the Kingdom of God from growing: they will either change the Word of God around, or they will try to destroy it. We have to pray to God in heaven that He will protect the proclamation of His kingdom here on earth.
16. Thirdly, do not only pray, but also take your clothes off and put them on the ground to prepare a honorable path for the Lord Christ: this means to help the furtherance of the Gospel with your money and also with your possessions so that intelligent, young people can be trained to become teachers and pastors in the church of God, and that the ones, who are pastors, and teach the Bible and the way of God, can be taken care of. So that they do not have to work in other jobs because they do not have enough money to buy food and the other things they need. If you want to support the Bible being taught by good and Bible-believing pastors and teachers, then you put your clothes down for Christ to step on, just as the people did way back then.
17. You have to serve this King; do not ask for the opinion of the High-Priest, the priests, or the Pharisees, of course, they do not like seeing Christ riding into Jerusalem and being hailed as their King and Son of David. They still do not like it if someone welcomes Christ as Savior and Lord into their lives. However, Christ is the King and He deserves to be honored as the King. Being King, He has many servants. Blessed are the ones who serve Him as their King. As we serve Him, He wants to serve us, too. To serve Him with our money and goods is only a small service in comparison to how He serves us: He helps us in fight against the devil, death, and sin. Be willing and ready to serve Him! Do not care about what the Pope, the bishops, and the priests say. They do not serve the King of Eternity. They do not lead the donkey to Christ for Him to sit on. They also do not care for the true Word of Christ; they preach and teach what serves them. They want to ride on the donkey themselves and let Christ walk beside them. They do not like if He comes to you riding on the Gospel, the Good News of God.
18. These false teachers also have their own students, hypocrites who wave at them with palm twigs and olive branches; Christ they greet by throwing stones at Him! They persecute Christ, and the Gospel, and everyone who preaches it. One day these hypocrites, false teachers, and the Jews who rejected Christ, the true and righteous King, will find out who He is, but then it will be too late; then they will have to endure His wrath for all eternity. However, the ones who have received Him, and have been made righteous, will receive eternal life. May our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ grant us this. Amen