Coming to You Now Again
Text: John 12:12-19
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” So the crowd cried out as Jesus rode triumphantly through the gates of Jerusalem, the ancient capital city of Israel. The citizens remembered their Bible lessons about how a king had done this ages ago—the young King Solomon, son of King David. Under Solomon’s rule, Israel hit its high-water mark. They were under Solomon’s reign when they had reached their pinnacle of wealth and power. Gentile rulers came from far and wide to gaze at the splendor, wealth, and majesty of Israel at that time. And what had kicked it all off? The son of David riding through Jerusalem on a donkey.
The crowd was remembering what had happened in the past. But they also realized that something was happening right then and there. They weren’t only longing for some old times, far in the past. They were seeing something new happening, and they realized it. The crowds of people that had been present when Lazarus was raised from the dead gave witness. This was a new king, someone coming to start something fresh. It was like the coronation of King Solomon, but different, new, better. Those who had witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection told everyone what this King coming to town had done there at the tomb. Death itself was being beaten back by this new King on a donkey’s colt. The citizens of Jerusalem heard about all the signs He had done, miracles that proved He was sent by God to bring about a new era, the era of the Messiah. They were remembering something great, but they were recognizing that something was happening at that very moment. Even the Pharisees had to recognize that something was happening, even if it was only out frustration and fear of losing their position in the empire. They snapped at each other: “You see that you are gaining nothing! Look, the whole world has gone after Him!”
Why do we mark this day, this season, with its once-a-year practices and traditions? Why do we have the children process in, palms leaves in hand, singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”? Why do we have the reading of the Passion of our Lord, adding our own voices to the narrative? Why do we have these unique services that aren’t repeated any other time?
This service, these services during Holy Week, certainly do follow in the same pattern of our Lord’s life that last week before His crucifixion and resurrection. The next three days we’ll gather and hear His Word, reflect and pray, just as He went to the temple those three days, Monday through Wednesday of the first Holy Week, to hear God’s Word, explain things, teach, and pray. On Thursday we’ll gather in the evening and receive the Lord’s Supper, just as He gathered His disciples into the upper room and gave them the first Holy Communion, His body and blood given to them for the very first time. We’ll strip the altar Thursday night at the time when He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He was stripped and humbled. And for those three hours He was on the cross on Good Friday, we will be gathered for the Tre Ore service, a once-a-year service, as we hear Jesus’ last words read and meditate on what His crucifixion has won for the world. We’ll gather in the dark of Holy Saturday for Easter Vigil, just as the women gathered to prepare to go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. Then, in the middle of that great service, we’ll be greeted with resurrection and life and Easter begins while it’s still dark, only to seen in the clearest colors of joy and peace on Easter morning.
We repeat this pattern every year because, like the people of Jerusalem at Jesus’ triumphal entry, we’re remembering. They saw the pattern unfolding again; as it had with Solomon, so now it was with Jesus. We also see the weeklong pattern unfold again.
But this, what we’re doing this week, is more than reenactment. We’re not just playing at recreating it. We’re not just trying to relive some old glory days or manufacture some sort of sentiment. Yes, we are remembering, but only because it’s telling us what’s happening now. Those words are still true, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” It’s present tense. Jesus is still coming here, to this space. He’s coming to be King, for you. That’s why we sing those words right before He comes to be here in His body and blood in Holy Communion. And the crowd of witnesses, the authors of Scripture, the witness given to you by parents and grandparents and godparents and Sunday school teachers, they’re all still speaking, still bearing witness to the signs and miracles that Jesus is performing here today in this sanctuary.
Your King is still coming to you. He’s not coming to you humble and mounted on a donkey’s colt, but He is coming to you in body and blood, hidden under the humble simplicity of bread and wine. He may not come through the ancient gates of Jerusalem, but He does come to this sanctuary. He may not be accompanied with the loud throngs of people from the Judean countryside, but He is coming here with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. So we relive those days of wonder here now, recognizing the wonders and signs that are taking place in our own midst; wonders and signs made known in forgiveness and mercy, in peace and grace, in love that knows no boundaries, love that even passes through death and back to life.
We’ll use this week to call to mind all that was accomplished for you, not only back then—which was important as the foundation of our faith. But we’ll also remember how that cross, how that Word, how that body and blood and life and resurrection comes to us now, this week. His cross from back then is delivered to us now through those ways.
You’re about to see the fulfillment of all that God has promised—again. You’re about to see your sins—your weak moments, like Peter; your betrayals, like Judas; your arrogance, like Herod; your fear, like Pilate—all of it forgiven again. Your King is coming to set you free from those things, to set you free even from death itself, so that you would always be in His kingdom. So we remember what was given to us that first Holy Week, in Christ’s Passion, and we know that it’s still being shared with us now, and for every Holy Week, every holy day, every moment in God’s kingdom yet to come. In the name of Jesus, who comes in the name of the Lord. Amen.