April 5, 2020
Pastor John Hering
Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your King is coming to you. He is righteous and brings salvation. He is humble and is riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. The battle bow will be taken away, and he will proclaim peace to the nations. His kingdom will extend from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.Zechariah 9:9,19
Last month did you ever imagine that you could not come to God’s house of prayer to worship? It’s makes one wonder if life will ever get back to normal. The doors of the church have been closed for worship for about 3 weeks now, being taken captive by the “Shelter in Place” order. About 600 years before Christ the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem, destroying the temple. No longer could God’s people come there to worship God. After being in captive for about 70 years spirits were running high as God’s people returned to what they hoped would be life as usual. But, it wasn’t. Their once beautiful city was now a pile of ruins. For 20 years they dragged their feet to restore worship in the temple. The people of Jerusalem were depressed and discouraged. They wondered if life would get back to normal. They needed guidance, direction and purpose. “If only we had a king!” the cried. God had not forgotten his promise to Abraham, that through his offspring all nations of the earth would be blessed. Therefore, God sent the prophet Zechariah with a message that is perfect for us as we celebrate Palm Sunday.
Your King Is On The Way
What a King
When God’s people heard this promise, it would have been interesting to ask the kids what kind of king they wanted. The kids would have remembered the kings they had in Babylon. They probably wouldn’t want kings like that—cold and cruel, rude and ruthless. Or if we asked an older person what kind of king they wanted they would have remembered the last four kings they used to have before the Fall of Jerusalem. Those four kings were ineffective and incapable. No wonder they were depressed and discouraged. There was no good candidate in sight to be their king.
The first message the people heard from Zechariah was scary and depressing. Their problems were worse than they thought! Zechariah said, “Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed, “This is what the Lord of Armies says. Return, return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.” But our forefathers did not listen, nor did they pay attention to me, declares the Lord” (Zech 1:4). God takes away his Word from people who don’t want to hear it. And the people Zechariah was speaking to weren’t interested in hearing God’s Word either! Zechariah let them know it, too. “If you people think your life is a mess, well, you’re right, it is. But you’ve got a bigger problem. There’s a war going on and you’re in big danger!” “A war?” they responded. “What war? We don’t even have an army. We’re just struggling to survive. We have no defense. If there’s a war going on, we’re in big trouble.” Zechariah replied, “You’re wrong and you’re right. You’re wrong because you’re thinking of a battlefield out there. But, you’re right because I’m talking about the war going on inside of you. It’s a war for your soul.”
Zechariah’s message hit home. The people recognized their terrible conditions on the outside and on the inside. They recognized their terrible condition of sin. And if they didn’t get rescued from that, they’d end up in hell! They got it. They needed a hero, a champion, a king! We get the trouble on the outside today. First we heard of the virus, then no flying, then no going to work, then no going out without facemask and gloves. If that is bad, our inside rebellion, our doubt, fear, anxiety all put our hearts on edge. Yes, Lord we need help!
That’s when Zechariah could bring the good news. “Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your King is coming to you.” They were looking for a king with kindness and power, with care and competence. Perhaps arriving with a parade of chariots and stallions! Instead, “Look! Your King is coming to you…. He is humble and is riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” If you were living in Jerusalem and heard that message would that have made you all excited? Probably not. “You mean we’re getting a king who’s a 98-pound weakling? Don’t make us laugh! Who wants a humble, poor king?” But, Zechariah wasn’t finished. He announced, “He is righteous and brings salvation.” This king is going to fight their big battle to save them. He is going to humble himself to be poor so you can be rich. He is going to provide the holiness you need to live in heaven because he is going to do all the dirty work. God promised, “10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. The battle bow will be taken away, and he will proclaim peace to the nations.”
The prophesy of Zechariah was fulfilled. Many nations tried to take control of Palestine and rule the Israelites: Alexander the Great, Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria, Caesar, all giants of history. But none of them fulfilled the prophecy. Only Jesus fulfilled it on Palm Sunday when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He had only 12 disciples following him, and most of them were not well-trained soldiers. Yet, by the end of the week he fought the battle against Satan and brought victory over death. What a perfect King!
History has recorded nation after nation that rejected God and chased after their own way. Every time a nation has rejected the Lord, in time, the Lord rejects them and moves his gospel to another part of the world. In recent times you’ve probably had the conversation about how long it would be before the Lord would remove the gospel from the USA. God’s work is greater. He has removed the many false gods people have been worshiping and has brought the world to its knees in a few short months. God’s people recognize this crisis from God as a call to repentance for us all. It reminds us all that we are the rebellious ones who have let materialism and humanism invade our hearts and rob our souls. All too often we have been on the wrong side at war with God. We want to play our victim card, but when we’re honest with ourselves and admit that all too often we have let our life get in the way of our relationship with God, we have no cards to play. It’s our fault. Our own grievous fault. We need a champion to win the war in our hearts.
So, we look to the cross of Christ. Jesus is the only one who could win the war for our souls. He did what no other king could do, “He is righteous and brings salvation, yes, Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your King is coming to you.” What a King he is and
What a Kingdom He Brings
If we had the opportunity to ask one of the kids in Jerusalem what kind of kingdom do you want your king to set up, what would they say? “The kingdom of Persia was huge. We had lots of stuff when we lived there.” Or if we asked an older person they might say, “We had limited space while living in Babylon. We’d want the kingdom to be like that of King Solomon in all its splendor!” Any wonder the people around Jerusalem were sad and depressed, for there was no such kingdom in sight. Their life was turmoil, unrest and uncertainty.
God sent Zechariah to announce, “[Your king] will proclaim peace to the nations. His kingdom will extend from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.” We know from Scripture what Zechariah was talking about. The work of Jesus our King would establish a kingdom, not of this world, but a kingdom of grace in our hearts that makes us a part of God’s kingdom forever. God’s kingdom is filled with love, peace, hope and joy. It extends far beyond the “shelter in place” walls of our little kingdom at home, or our kingdom of city limits, or the boarders of our nation. Jesus’ kingdom extends to the corners of the earth and into the Holy Christian Church and the Communion of Saints.
Since the days of Zechariah many empires and nations have tried to rule the world. Caesar couldn’t do it. Charlemagne gave it a good try. Even Napoleon tried it. Or how about Germany? Or how about the USA? No, only Jesus has a kingdom that extends over the whole world. Jesus didn’t extend his kingdom by force, riding into Jerusalem to overthrow the Romans. Jesus made it plain to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus didn’t send his followers into the world with swords of steel, but with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Jesus sent his followers out from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and to the end of the world with a message: Jesus conquered power of Satan, the curse of sin, and the power of death. Jesus brings this message to the whole world today through you as you share the good news, “Your sins are forgiven!”
So the battle goes on today. The enemies we fight look like this: when we get sick, that’s all we think about. When we’re low on funds we try to figure out how to get more money. When we have disagreements we tend to think of wanting to be right. When we are “sheltering in place” we tend to think of how we yearn for freedom. Today, Zechariah lifts our eyes to see the peace we have with God through Jesus Christ. So, we hail Jesus as King of kings and raise our palm branches, and place our garments in front of him in honor and praise. Jesus brings peace that gives comfort to the sick, the hurting, and those without hope.
“Rejoice greatly, Look! Your King is coming to you.” Today marks the beginning of Holy Week. Did you ever imagine that you couldn’t come to God’s house of prayer to enjoy the special services, especially Easter? Will life get back to normal? We hope and pray that we will soon be able to return to worship together in God’s house of prayer. But, God’s kingdom is not about buildings or places. God’s kingdom is about you. It’s about Jesus who came as our great king with his great kingdom so you can enjoy freedom from discouragements and distress of this life, to spend an eternal life with him in heaven. It’s about standing in awe and respect of our King, about loving him above all things, about trusting him. For in Jesus, life is nor normal, but it is glorious—free from sin to live with him in heaven forever. Amen!