Palmarum—Palm Sunday (Zech 9, 9–12; Mt 21, 1–9)

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

“Behold, Your King is coming to you, righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey.” (Zech 9/Mt 21)

᛭ INI ᛭

((5. Oops!: God is righteous; you’re not.))

God’s righteous. God’s holy. What are you? Are you righteous? Are you holy?

That’s such a softball question. Isn’t it? Sure you might be able to navigate the right answer to that question, whitewashing what you think, what you do, hiding behind that right answer. Something just about as smart as Adam and Eve hiding behind a tree from God the Son who created them and that tree! God doesn’t just see actions, doesn’t just hear your Words, He knows the thoughts, the desires, and the intentions that are behind your words and behavior.

((4. Ugh!: We think we’re right.))

Let’s strip away the leaves of fancy Bible words. Not that they’re leaves in themselves. They’re good words! No, we cheapen them to that so we can keep on justifying ourselves and our behavior.

Are you righteous? Are you holy? How quickly we can try to dodge that! But what about this? Are you right? Are you in the right? This isn’t just about being correct. Think about your relationships. What sets you apart? What makes you right and the other person wrong?

Maybe you were wronged, but then you use that to justify your continuing the grudge. Your being wronged becomes your being right. Or we’ll say, “Well, mistakes were made on both sides,” but when we say that, don’t we really mean that most were made by the other person? That while we say we played a part, we don’t really mean that too much… But maybe you were right all along! Now there’s a big club we’ll wield on others…

Our rightness is our righteousness. Not just with those around us, but with God Himself! It’s why we’re ashamed of our sins. (Why we hide them, cover them up, try to make up for them.) It’s also why we would almost fight to the death about being right. You can never admit weakness, error, being wrong. Not really. Not completely. We always have to hold on to some rightness. (We’d even use our humility, our true confession, our right answers, our knowledge, our cleverness as the ticket.)

“You…have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” (Rom 3:1–3 NIV)

“You…who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you {keep money from God’s temple}?” (Rom 3:21–22 NIV) You who say forgive, are you unforgiving? You who say don’t gossip, do you gossip? “You who brag about the law,” who talk a lot about behavior, “do you dishonor God by breaking the law” (Rom 3:23 NIV) yourself?

((3. Aha!: God’s Righteousness is revealed apart from the Law.))

But the righteousness of God is revealed apart from the Law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God for the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3)” “God’s righteousness is revealed {from His faithfulness to your faith in Him}, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:17)

You being right with God, your righteousness before Him, has nothing to do with your behavior, with your personal rightness, correctness. Your salvation has nothing to do with these things. (The salvation of those in your life doesn’t have anything to do with them either.)

God’s righteousness, you being right with Him, is revealed. It’s revealed apart from, without, separate from His Law. (His Law reveals your UNrighteousness.) God’s righteousness is revealed in Jesus, and you receive it by faith. (Faith in Jesus.) “God put [Jesus] forward as a propitiation,” a sacrifice for sin, “by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Rom 3) For you to receive it it’s delivered, and Jesus Himself delivers it! Now, that’s Palm Sunday in a nutshell!



God’s righteous. God’s holy. Jesus is. He’s God, and so He’s righteous. He’s holy. “He didn’t count equality as something to be stolen, but He made Himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant.” He was sent by His Father not to demand righteousness and salvation from us. That’s a demand that would never get fulfilled. “God didn’t send His into the world to condemn the world but that the world would be saved through Him.” (Jn 3) JESUS COMES TO DELIVER RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SALVATION.

Jesus is righteous. He’s right with God His Father, one with God His Father, and when He comes, He comes to deliver what He is, what His Father is. “Righteous and having salvation is He.” “What Adam failed to do individually, and Israel failed to do corporately, Jesus fulfilled as true and faithful Servant of Yahweh. He’s the One who brings everlasting righteousness” (Andrew Abernethy, WHI) and salvation to His people. But not just to Israel. All people. You and me included. “He will speak peace to the nations. His rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

He’s “made peace by the blood of His cross” (Eph 3). He “seeks peace and pursues it.” (Ps) Seeks it, apparently, at a donkey’s pace. He rides into Jerusalem as the true “Prince of Peace.” (Is 9) As King Solomon, King Peaceful, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, so also Jesus rides into Jerusalem as the true and only King of the Jews.

“Behold, Your King is coming to you, righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on” a cross. “Obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” There most King. “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.” (Jn 19) There most “righteous.” ”This man did nothing wrong.” (Lk 23) There most “having salvation.” “It is finished. (Jn 19)” At Calvary Jesus “with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death” saved you from your sins, your guilt, your shame, your wrongness, even your rightness, your self-made righteousness.

Whatever separates you from God, whatever separates you from those around—whatever you have done, and you have done something, to cause that separation—Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the tree, by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2), forgiven. Therefore, “as much as it depends on you live at peace with everyone,” (Rom 15) everyone, everyone.

We are at peace with God and with each other. We’re right with God, and He’s right with us. Jesus delivers His righteousness and His salvation. That’s what Jesus’ Word and Gifts are all about. That’s the delivery point for your reconciliation with God and with one another.

Only through Jesus Word and Gifts, that deliver His righteousness and salvation, are Paul’s Word true: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is also yours through Christ Jesus.” This redemption, reconciliation—Jesus’ salvation, His righteousness are yours personally, are all yours collectively, are all ours congregationally through His Word and Gifts, where we receive the fruits of His cross.

((1. Yeah!: In Jesus, by faith in Jesus alone, you’re righteous and saved.))

God’s righteous. God’s holy. What are you? Are you righteous? Are you holy? Not in your own personal rightness, self-made righteousness you aren’t. That’s a dead end.

But you aren’t left on your own. “Behold, Your King is coming to you, righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey.” JESUS COMES TO DELIVER RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SALVATION.

And in Jesus, by faith in Jesus alone, you’re righteous and saved. His cross says so. His empty tomb says so. His Font says so. His Absolution says so. His Word says so. His preaching says so. His body and blood say so. “Having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5)

You are righteous. Jesus has made it so. His righteousness is yours. You are right with God. You are righteous. In Jesus alone.

You are saved. Have to be saved. Jesus died and rose, “God has highly exalted Him.” You are saved, have to be saved. Not your behavior, but Christ’s behavior for you. His behavior credited to your account with God. Eternally yours, made yours in the here and now—right now, today, again and again—through His Word and Gifts.

JESUS COMES TO DELIVER RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SALVATION. And that’s exactly what you are: righteous, saved.

᛭ INI ᛭

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