“Who Is This King of Glory?” (Psalm 24:7-10; Luke 19:28-40; 23:1-56)

Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion
March 28, 2010

“Who Is This King of Glory?” (Psalm 24:7-10; Luke 19:28-40; 23:1-56)

“Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” So the psalmist writes, and then he adds this question, calling for our reflection: “Who is this King of glory?” That is our question this morning, on this Day of the Palms, when we also look ahead to the Day of the Passion. Today we look upon this man Jesus, riding into Jerusalem, and we ask, “Who Is This King of Glory?”

Well, on Sunday, Palm Sunday, he certainly looks like a king of glory. Cheering crowds, palm branches, cloaks spread on the road–a triumphal entry into the royal city, Jerusalem. What a scene of joy and triumph it is, fulfilling the ancient prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

But by the end of the week, that Holy Week, instead of a triumphal entry, there is a tearful exit. The daughters of Jerusalem who were rejoicing on Sunday are weeping on Friday, as the King of glory is led out of town in shame and sorrow. Who is this King of glory?

On Sunday Jesus is acclaimed as the messianic king: ““Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” On Friday he is accused of claiming to be that king: “We found this man misleading our nation . . . saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Jesus doesn’t deny it: “Are you the King of the Jews?” “You have said so.” Who is this King of glory? Soldiers array him in splendid clothing, only to beat him up and mock him. Who is this King of glory?

Glory? Glory, you say? Where is the glory in being nailed to a cross, and having a sign placed over your head, “This is the King of the Jews”? No garments strewn before him, now his own garments are stripped from him.

Strange king, indeed. On Sunday he rides in triumph on the Way of Glory. On Friday he staggers, condemned, on the Way of Sorrows, the way of the cross and darkness and degradation. Who is this King of glory?

The world today would just as soon forget about this king, this puzzling man, Jesus. They want to put him on the shelf, push him out of sight, out of mind, and get on with their lives–their busy, distracted, no-need-for-God lives. Instead of cheering crowds–or hostile crowds, either, for that matter–now there are just busy crowds, bustling crowds, too-busy-to-be-bothered and too-bored-to-care crowds. What a vacuous lot we have become! Overloaded with information, but starved for wisdom. All too busy, and yet filling our lives with nothing. Junk food for the mind. Junk food for the soul. No time or need for this man Jesus. Who is this King of glory? “Don’t bother me, I don’t want to know.”

Ah, poor Jesus! Poor, neglected, forgotten, obsolete Jesus! Shed a tear of nostalgia for those days of yesteryear, when religion was important and people cared about Jesus. Shed a tear, and then let me get back to my I-Phone. I-Phone, I-Pod, I-Pad–I, I, I. Ay, ay, ay, what fools we have become!

No, do not shed a tear for Jesus. Jesus would tell our TMZ culture: Shed a tear for yourselves! Weep and mourn, and let your laughter turn to lament! Do you think you will escape judgment, you who have no need for God’s mercy and his Messiah? How will you escape? When death intrudes, when cancer comes calling, when judgment comes crashing down, how will you stand? What will be your support to lean on, to enable you to stand in the day of God’s judgment? Will it be your inherent goodness? Your pleasing personality? Don’t kid yourself. Those supports are all too flimsy. They will collapse and crumble. You need some stronger stuff than that. As for me, the support I will lean on in the Day of Judgment is the cross of Christ my Savior. He is my only hope–and your only hope, also. And that’s the only hope and support you need, is this one with which God supplies you.

So maybe we should take a second look at that man Jesus and ask again the question, “Who is this King of glory?” There’s something special about him, something unique that takes hold of us. The more we look, the closer we look, the more we realize we need him.

What is special about this man? We pick up some clues from the story. When Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem, he tells two of his disciples: “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” A colt no one has ever yet sat on. And the Lord has need of it. Hmm. . . .

Then on Friday, after the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea takes down the body of Jesus and lays him in a tomb cut in stone, “where no one had ever yet been laid.” Hmm. . . . A colt no one has ridden. And a tomb no one has ever been laid in. What’s going on here?

It appears there are some divine arrangements going on here. That’s what it is. God has set apart some divine preparations, some never-used vessels, a colt and a tomb, set apart and reserved for a most special purpose, a most special guest. These are vessels fit for a king, this colt and this tomb. Yes, both the colt and the tomb, set apart and planned by God. That’s the point: Both Sunday and Friday are part of God’s plan.

The plan all along was for this Jesus to ride in glory into Jerusalem, and his glory, God’s glory, would be seen and shown and brought to fulfillment precisely in Jesus going to the cross. The cross and tomb are part of the plan–indeed, the heart of God’s plan, his plan for you! Who is this King of glory? He is the King who suffers and dies for you.

Yes, you the sinner. You the “die-er,” the person who dies. You, who would come under God’s judgment yourself–you need Jesus to bear your sins and die for you and suffer that judgment in your place. That’s why he rides into town. Only Jesus could do that job.

Who is this King of glory? Some more clues from our text: Pilate, the judge, says of Jesus, “I find no guilt in this man.” A second time he tells his accusers, “After examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him.” And then a third time he said to them, “What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death.”

Even the thief on the cross can see this truth about Jesus: “This man has done nothing wrong.” And the Roman centurion likewise: “Certainly this man was innocent!” Now Pilate and the thief and the centurion all spoke truer than they realized. Not only was Jesus not guilty of any crime, not only was he innocent by the world’s standards, Jesus was even innocent and righteous by God’s standards. Truly righteous, totally innocent, no sin or guilt that he should die in any way, much less die the death of a criminal.

But you and I–we cannot manufacture a verdict like that for ourselves. You and I have done wrong, we have sinned, in a hundred ways, a hundred times a thousand. Maybe not capital crimes in the world’s eyes, but sins, grievous sins nonetheless, in God’s sight. In countless ways, we have sinned against God–in thought, in word, in deed, from as far back as we can remember, all the way to the grave–we have made false gods for ourselves, worshiping the idols of our own making, our own opinions and ideas of right and wrong. And the Lord God looks down on this folly and says of all those who would trust in themselves, “Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge?”

No, only God, the true God, can deliver us. Who is this King of glory? The psalmist tells us: “The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!” “Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!” Yes, only God can deliver us. And that is why he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to do the job we couldn’t do. The holy Son of God, true God from eternity, born of the virgin Mary–this Jesus, God in the flesh, Jesus, the God-man Savior–he is the King of glory who saves us from sin and death.

Dear friends, cling to him in faith, lean upon his cross as your only support, and you will be strong to stand in the day of trouble. In Christ, for us the Day of Judgment becomes the day of our salvation. And, if you can pardon a premature Hallelujah . . . Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Thank God for his mercy in Christ!

Who is the King of glory? He is Jesus Christ, your Savior and your King! “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: