Skip to comments."Fear Not, Daughter of Zion; Behold, Your King Is Coming!" (Sermon for Palm Sunday, on John 12:12-19)
Posted on 04/04/2020 8:16:06 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson
Fear Not, Daughter of Zion; Behold, Your King Is Coming! (John 12:12-19)
I dont know about you, but these last couple of weeks Ive been watching the daily briefings from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. I find these briefings fascinating. Not only do they provide information on the virus itself and how to slow the spread--Ive become familiar with terms like mitigation, models, flattening the curve,; granular is the latest one--not only do I find that part fascinating, but its also interesting to see how the government responds to calls for help from around the country. New York, you need 2,000 ventilators? Dont worry; help is on the way. Los Angeles, were sending you a hospital ship to help with relieving the stress on your system. Much-needed supplies are being sent out, like N95 masks for health-care workers. And then theres the financial assistance. The Treasury Secretary reports on the emergency money thats coming your way. The Small Business Administrator tells businesses how to apply for the Payroll Protection Program, so that they can keep paying their employees. So youve got the President, the Vice President, the Treasury Secretary, the SBA, an assortment of admirals and private-sector business leaders--theyre all delivering the same message: Dont worry; help is on the way.
Well, in a way, this reminds me of what we find in todays Palm Sunday Gospel reading. The main message is likewise, Dont worry; help is on the way. Only in this case, it doesnt take a whole White House task force to do the job. No, here the much-needed help comes in a task force of one, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so God is saying to us today, in the words of our text: Fear Not, Daughter of Zion; Behold, Your King Is Coming!
Fear not, daughter of Zion. First, I think I need to explain who is meant by this daughter of Zion. Who is being referred to? You! Us! We are the daughter of Zion being addressed in this verse. Oh, originally it was spoken to the children of Israel, but now it applies to us also. For we, the church--we are Gods people now. Daughter of Zion? Zion was the place of Gods abode, his dwelling place on earth with his people, in the temple, on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem. So daughter of Zion is a poetic way to refer to Gods people. And that is who we are. We Christians have been made Gods people by the Holy Spirit working through the ministry of the church, through Word and Sacrament. We have been brought into Gods family through Holy Baptism, when God placed his name on us and claimed us as his children. So we are the daughter of Zion who is being addressed in this verse.
Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming! You know, this verse in John is really a quote from the Old Testament prophet Zechariah. And in Zechariah the verse actually reads, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! It doesnt say, Fear not; it says, Rejoice greatly. But in order to rejoice greatly, first youve got to fear not. So its kind of an interpretive quotation. But it works. Boy howdy, does it work! Because when we know who this king is, and what he is coming to do, not only do we not need to fear, we can even begin to rejoice--and rejoice greatly, in fact.
Why would Jerusalem need to be told Fear not, when they see a king coming into town? Well, because Jerusalems experience with kings riding into town was not always a good one. In fact, it could be rather terrifying. Jerusalem had had kings and their armies riding to town in the past. The Assyrian king Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem with destruction back in 701 B.C. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar literally did destroy Jerusalem with his army back in 587 B.C. So a king coming to Jerusalem could be a cause for tremendous fear.
And deservedly so. For Jerusalem was ripe for judgment. Their sins were piled up against them. And God would have certainly been justified in sending a king and his army to the city to destroy it. Friends, this is a picture of us. We are the Jerusalem whose sins stink to heaven. God would certainly be a just judge if he were to strike us down for our repeated sins against his commandments. Our behavior has earned his wrath. This pestilence, this plague, this pandemic that is afflicting us right now, should do nothing if not to bring us to repentance. We have earned Gods punishment. And that should, rightly, cause us to fear.
But instead, God in his mercy says to us today, Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming! Because this king comes, not to destroy but to rescue. This king comes, not to condemn but to save. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, as we just said in the Creed. This is Jesus Christ were talking about here! The only Son of God, come in the flesh to be our Savior-King. This is why he comes riding into Jerusalem--to do that saving job. Dont worry; help is on the way.
And here he comes, riding into town. And notice what hes riding on: a donkey. Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkeys colt! A donkey, not a war horse. A donkey, a peace-time animal, suitable for domestic duties. This king comes in peace. He comes to establish peace. Peace between God and man. Peace between heaven and earth. This is what we need. And this is the help that Jesus comes to bring.
This king will establish that peace not with haughty might but with humble servanthood. Humble and mounted on a donkey he comes. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. I love the words of the hymn that were going to sing later, at the close our service today:
Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin
Oer captive death and conquered sin.
Christ rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in order to carry a cross to Golgotha on Good Friday. And on that cross, Jesus will suffer and die for your sins, as the sacrifice for your forgiveness, so that you will not suffer and die eternally. And Easter, Christs resurrection, will be the affirmation of that triumph on the cross. Christ your King has conquered sin and death for you. Trust in him today!
Fear not, daughter of Zion. What are your fears? What are you afraid of? What are the fears that are gripping our nation right now? I think, obviously, the first one that comes to mind is the fear of catching the virus. Were all probably more than a little nervous about even going to the grocery store. What can I touch? Will a mask help? Thats the first fear that people have. And the second is like unto it. Its the fear of economic ruin. Will I have a job after all this? What is happening to my retirement savings, which I worked so hard for? Were not used to such a double whammy, a virus scare plus an economic collapse.
But the coming of our king on Palm Sunday reassures us. This same Jesus who rides into town is the one who has taught us to trust in our heavenly Father. Do not be anxious over what you will eat and what you will wear. Consider the birds of the air. Your Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Or look at the flowers of the field. Even King Solomon in his glorious array was not clothed as splendidly as they are. Your Father knows what you need even before you ask him. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.
The Jesus who taught his disciples in that loving heavenly Father is the same Jesus who now rides into Jerusalem. By his death and resurrection, we know for certain that God loves us and will take care of us. If God loves us so much so as to do that, to send his only Son to die on the cross for us, will he not also with him freely give us all the things we need? He will. God has taken care of our greatest need, by giving us forgiveness for our sins and life, eternal life, that overcomes death. If he has done that for us, we can be confident that he will care for us in our every need now. Jesus is riding into Jerusalem, and that assures us we can ride this thing out.
The message today is this: Dont worry; help is on the way. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkeys colt!
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.
Thank you ! May Gods truth be revealed !
Thanks and a blessed Palm Sunday wish for you and for everyone!
The true humility JESUS exemplified and came to teach us, proud humanity, has always shook my core, but JESUS’ riding in on a mule on His Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem, palm branches and all, was also a sign of His Rightful Kingship, both as Son of God and Son of David,
Kings 1:38-40 (NIV)
38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon mount King Davids mule, and they escorted him to Gihon.
39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, Long live King Solomon!
40 And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.
Typo Alert: The date up at the top of the page is wrong. It should, of course, be April 5, 2020.
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