Monday, April 14, 2014

Palm Sunday Sermon: "Entrances and Exits"

+ Palm Sunday – April 13th, 2014 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: John 12:12-19; Isaiah 50:4-9; Philippians 2:5-11; John 12:20-43

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Palm Sunday is a day of entrances and exits. Think about how many times we enter and exit places.
This morning you’ve already entered several rooms in your home, your car, and here into the Lord’s house. In a short while you’ll exit this church and leave the liturgy of the Divine Service for the liturgy of life in your vocations where you’ll enter into service where Christ has stationed you.
Entrances and exits surround our weekly routines: grocery store, school, work, and home.
Entrances and exits are also a part of our earthly life: in birth we enter, at death we exit. But that is not the final entrance. 

There is also your exit from sin and death in Holy Baptism – such as Jennifer and Donovan receive today. Our old sinful nature is drowned and buried and a new nature in Christ arises. Baptism is also an entrance, the doorway into the kingdom of God, a new birth by water and the Spirit. That’s why many churches place their baptismal font at the entrance of the church, a physical reminder that we enter the Church through the waters of Baptism. In Baptism we exit death and enter into Christ’s death and life for us.
Our Christian life is full of entrances and exits. Members move away and enter a new church home. Family and friends die and enter eternal rest awaiting the grand entrance of the Resurrection. And new members join. Confirmation continues. Baptism gathers God’s children into the ark of the Church and into the arms of Jesus and they’re blessed. We enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise as we kneel in the Holy Place and receive Christ’s body and blood. Heaven enters earth. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross enters our mouth.
Palm Sunday is a day of entrances and exits, for you and for Jesus.
Today Jesus enters the holy city riding atop a prophesied donkey:
The crowds wave palm branches and shout the words of Psalm 118: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Today we join the crowds in this sacred song. Hosanna! Lord, save us.

Jesus entered Jerusalem for this reason. Jesus is your Hosanna. Jesus comes in the Name of the Lord for you. Jesus enters Jerusalem to save you. It is just as the prophet Zechariah foretold:
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey's colt!”

Jesus’ life is also full of entrances and exits. Before Jesus entered Jerusalem he entered the home of Mary and Martha. And upon his Word, Lazarus exited the grave.
Before that Jesus entered a village and healed a blind man so that he could exit the darkness and enter Christ’s life-giving light.
Jesus entered the homes of the sick and the sinners. Jesus entered the synagogues proclaiming that he was the promised Messiah who would give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, raise the dead, and free us from bondage to sin and death – a grand exit.
Jesus entered the towns of Samaria in order to rescue the outcast and outsider.
Jesus entered the wilderness in order to endure temptation for you and rebuke Satan for you, and to tell him to exit his presence at once.
Jesus entered the waters of the Jordan in order to enter into your death as your substitute.
Jesus entered the temple as a 12 year old boy with the Word of God upon his lips.
Jesus entered the temple at eight days old in order to fulfill the entire Law by receiving circumcision and his name, Jesus, for he shall save you from your sins.
Jesus exited the womb of Mary; he entered this world with our human flesh all so that he could make these entrances. So that he could make the most important entrance of all: into Jerusalem, through the gates, up to the temple, up to upper room, out to the garden of Gethsemane, into the city, up on the cross. This is the hour for which he came. Palm Sunday gives way to Good Friday. Palms give way to passion. Triumph gives way to crucifixion.
Entrances and Exits.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
The Palm Sunday crowds are right. Jesus is a king, But He is no ordinary King. His kingdom is not of this world. His donkey is borrowed. His royal robes are worn only in mockery. His head is crowned with thorns. His throne is a cross. His spends his Sabbath day rest in the tomb. He goes to holy war by dying for His people and kingdom. Never has the world seen such a King as this one.
Jesus exits Jerusalem and enters the judgment and punishment of our sin. He goes to the cross, to his death, for all the times we’ve entered into sin. There’s no deadly sin we haven’t stuck our noses in. And for all that – the sinner we are and the sin we do - we deserve to be ones entering our graves. But we’re not. Jesus takes your place. Jesus enters Jerusalem and exits it again for you. Jesus enters the cross for you. Jesus exits his last breath for you. Jesus enters the tomb for you. All so that Jesus’ mercy never exits from us, no matter how often we’ve entered into sin.
For Jesus did not stay in the tomb. Jesus exited. Jesus rose. Jesus lives. Jesus entered death and came out again, taking you and a fallen world with him. And like OT Ruth we confess: Where you go, I will go.
Jesus leaves the grave behind. Jesus ascends. Jesus enters the eternal reign of heaven. But Jesus does not leave you alone.
Jesus fills His church, this place - and every place where his word, water, body and blood are given – with all of his life-restoring, sin-forgiving, heaven-opening entrances and exits. The cross of Christ is the key and the door to paradise.
This is what Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem is all about. Through all of Jesus’ entrances and exits you are saved, hallowed, blessed, given mercy, redemption, and the guarantee of an exit from death and an entrance into life.
Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Today we join the crowds and sing Hosannas as we enter the Holy Place and Jesus draws us to himself again. He gathers us around His table, His body, and His blood. His forgiveness of sins and eternal life enter the doorway of our lips. Hosanna! Blessed are you who come in the Name of the Lord!
Palm Sunday is a joyous reminder that in all the entrances and exits of life, Christ goes ahead of you, Christ goes with you, and Christ goes for you.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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