Sunday, April 5, 2009

April 5, 2009 Palm Sunday Matthew 21:1-9

And Jesus stood before the Governor; and the one governing questioned Him, saying, "You are the King of the Jews?" Jesus spoke: "You say." And in the accusing of Him by the Chief Priest, and of the Elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, "Don't You hear how much they testify against You?" And He did not answer him, not to 1 word, so to amaze the Governor greatly...Then were crucified with Him 2 thieves, one on the right and one on the left. And the passers-by were blaspheming, shaking their heads and saying, "The One destroying the temple and in 3 days building it up, save Yourself; if the Son of God You are, come down from the cross!" In the same way also the chief priests were mocking, with the scribes and elders, saying, "Others He saved, Himself He is not able to save. King of Israel, He is. Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him." He trusts in God; let Him deliver now, if He wants Him; for He said that "of God I am Son." The same way also the thieves, the ones crucified with Him, reproached Him. And from the 6th hour darkness occurred upon all the land until hour 9. And around the 9th hour Jesus cried out in a great voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani", that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

The activities of Jesus in scripture are manifest. His miracles over nature, turning water into wine, calming the storm, walking on water, and feeding the 5000 are some of His well known works. His preaching and teachings are memorable, from the Sermon on the Mount to the parables of the Prodigal Son and of the Good Samaritan. His acts of great compassion are well remembered, from his healing of blind, deaf and lame, to His casting out of demons, to His curing the sick, to His raising of the dead.

Yes, many a sermon and bible study have addressed the *active obedience* of Jesus, Who lived a perfect life in keeping all God's commandments, both in refraining from sin, and in taking on acts of charity. But today, it is a different story. Jesus is not so active now. He is most passive, allowing unspeakable evils to fall upon Him, without defending Himself to accusation, and without saving Himself from the death of the cross. No less important is Jesus' *passive obedience* at the cross!

Jesus is indeed your perfect sacrifice for sin at Calvary. His active obedience to His Father's will His whole lifetime made Him a perfect one. But it is His passive obeying that makes Him your sacrifice on Good Friday. Think about it. He had every right to defend Himself from the false charges against Him. He didn't. Like a lamb to the slaughter, He didn't open His mouth. He very well could have saved Himself and stopped His Own crucifixion, for He was the Almighty God, after all. But He didn't.

Not that Jesus didn't think about bypassing His death on the cross. In His full human-ness, He prayed the night before for the possibility of this cup of suffering be taken from Him. Yet He prayed, not for His human will to be accomplished, but that the Divine will of His Father be done. And it was. Jesus did not advocate for His innocence, so that He could be your advocate with the Father. He willingly went to the cross to suffer the punishment for your sins, death and separation from His Father.

When Jesus does finally speak up, it is not to defend Himself, but to announce exactly what is taking place at Calvary. "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" This is not a question for Jesus' sake, but for yours; that you realize exactly what Jesus' passive obedience is all about. You deserved to be the one forsaken by God. Jesus took your place. He drinks down the cup of the Father's wrath, His hatred against sin. Jesus becomes your sin at the cross, receives your death of forsakenness.

The Jewish leaders spoke well for Jesus, stating that "Others He saved, Himself He cannot save." For there was no other choice for Jesus than His passive obedience–letting Himself be crucified for you at the cross, to save you. Oh, He could have saved Himself, but that would have meant that everyone else, including you, would perish in a death of forsakenness. In that He did not choose to save Himself, His death now means life for you! His forsakenness at the cross means your acceptance!

Yes, had Jesus acted and taken the advice of the passers-by to "come down from the cross", you would still be in your sins, the wages of which is death eternal. But He chose not to act, but to be passive in allowing others to crucify Him for your sake. For you are not like the Jewish leaders who would only trust in Jesus if He could come down from the cross. You believe in Him solely because He remained upon the cross, and died in your place there, so you may life forever in Him...and He in You this day, as you eat of His body given at Calvary, and drink from His blood shed for you there.

Hymns for today from LSB:
#443 Hosanna, Loud Hosanna lyrics
#441 Ride On, Ride On in Majesty
#442 All Glory Laud and Honor lyrics
#440 Jesus, I Will Ponder Now lyrics

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