Monday, April 02, 2012

Sermon on Zechariah 9:9-12 for Palm Sunday, "Prisoners of Hope!"

Sermon Outline: 
1.      Palm Sunday, Holy Week, looking down the path that Jesus journeyed to the cross. We watch our king enter Jerusalem, Last Supper, Good Friday. Do we turn our eyes from that shameful death on the cross, or do we look to Him and breathe out our humble prayer of repentance and thanksgiving, that He suffered that for us?
2.      “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.” How should the heart rejoice at the sign of Jesus’ coming? “Our hearts should jump for joy. Our spirits should hop with rejoicing. Our tongues should be speaking praises. For this King does not bring just any ordinary benefit. That’s why also this joy should not just be any ordinary joy, but rather a special joy. It is written in Neh. 8:10: For the joy in the Lord is your strength. However, he is not referring here to some worldly joy. Instead, it refers to a spiritual joy of the inward man when our soul and spirit—with heartfelt contemplation of the great benefits which we have in Christ” (Gerhard).
3.      Our joy that Jesus comes to us continually in His Word and Sacraments. Jesus comes in the humble, rejectable forms of His Word, of lowly water, of simple bread and wine. Yet here He offers Himself to us, that we would receive Him into our hearts with glad shouts of praise and thanksgiving.
4.      Prophecy and palm procession is a royal scene, like a king riding into the capital to His coronation, rise to His throne. Solomon’s crowning, Jehu’s ascent to the throne. Jesus’ mount. The people’s acclaim “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
5.      But Jesus’ path to coronation, to His throne went directly through the cross. No golden crown, but a crown of thorns. No jeweled scepter, but a reed given in mocking. The loyalty quickly vanished, the crowds cries quickly turned, from the king they hoped for to the king they despised and rejected.
6.      Reign unlike any other. Sacrificial love, humility, peace that comes by speaking. His Word brings peace…disarms the hatred, the enmity of the heart. Prepares a way for God within.
7.      What did they miss about Jesus’ kingship, that so many rejected Him? His suffering, humility, the extent of His kingdom “from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” All nations, those who call on Him as Lord and King, are His citizens and subjects. Heirs to His kingdom. Missed that His kingdom would come through “the blood of my covenant with you.” His contract, His promise with them of freedom, restoration of the kingdom, of peace and salvation. Shedding His blood, the price of the covenant, the sealing of God’s contract of forgiveness, the guarantee of prisoners set free.
8.      Disciples and the crowds laid down their cloaks. Sign of obedience, love, rendered service, humility. Recognition of kingship. How do we lay down our cloaks before Him? Give of our material goods for His kingdom, lay down our lives, humility, service to His kingship. “Nothing in our hearts actually fights more fiercely against Christ’s kingdom of grace than the rule of the sinful flesh. So if you then allow the sinful flesh to rule in you, then Christ’s kingdom of grace can no longer make an entrance into you. One ruler must be given a leave of absence; it’s not possible for a person to simultaneously allow two opposing lords to have the upper hand--one has to be disregarded (Matt. 6:24).” Gerhard. Give our sinful flesh a leave of absence. Acknowledge Christ as Lord.
9.      Amazing words: “prisoners of hope.” Would expect no hope for prisoners. But people under sin, death, loneliness, fear, longing for freedom—called to hope. Called to look to the One who shattered the prison chains. Jesus, our King who goes before us, who Himself became a prisoner, so that we might be prisoners of hope. Many OT examples—NT Paul and Silas singing. God would deliver—this was their hope. God was their stronghold or refuge. Jesus bore the chains, the mockery, the beating, the death, for us. He rose from the grave showing victory, triumph. The “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem would be followed by an even more triumphant exit, when He ascended from the hill in Bethany, the same place where He began His journey into Jerusalem on the donkey, now He ascends to His rightful throne, right hand of the Father. Crown of thorns, suffering, shame exchanged for a crown of glory, power, eternal life. We’re prisoners of hope—captive to the joy of the Lord, which is our strength—captive to the love of God that has set us free by His blood of the covenant! Rejoice greatly! Shout aloud! Christ is your King! Amen.

Sermon Talking Points
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  1. Read Mark 11:1-11 about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. How was this an intentional fulfillment of the words of the prophet Zechariah (520-518 BC), in Zech. 9:9-12? What were the characteristics of the King and His coming reign?

  1. What were the “kingly” actions that surrounded this event? 1 Kings 1:33-40; 2 Ki. 9:13; Ps. 118:25-26. The scene looks like a king riding to His coronation. What crown would Jesus wear? Why did many then abandon Him? How did the path to His coronation intersect with suffering and imprisonment?

  1. What does it mean for us to “lay down our cloaks” for Jesus? Read Eph. 4:22; Jude 23; Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5. How is repentance a humbling of ourselves, and a laying aside of our pride? How is laying down our material possessions for the Lord a sign of obedience and service to Him?

  1. Jerusalem received Jesus with palms and praises. How does Christ come to us today, and how do we properly receive Him? Look at the hymn verse: “Then cleansed be ev’ry life from sin; make straight the way for God within, and let us all our hearts prepare, for Christ to come and enter there.” (LSB 344:2)

  1. Zech. 9:11-12 describes “prisoners of hope.” What does this mean? How are we “prisoners of hope”? What other examples of “prisoners of hope” can you find in the Bible? Read their stories: Joseph, Samson, Jeremiah, the 12 disciples, Peter, Paul and Silas, etc. How does Scripture speak comfort to the prisoners? Ps. 69:33; 102:18-22; 107:10-16; Is. 42:6-7.  How did Christ become one with us, as a “prisoner of hope?”

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