Palm Sunday Service: “Who is this?”

Text: And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” Matthew 21: 10

Bible reading: As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” — Mark 11: 1–11

Message

God reveals himself to mankind in his son. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem marked the start of a decisive phase in salvation history. It led to the resurrection of Jesus Christ by way of His suffering and death, and brought the promises of the Old Testament to fulfilment.

Although the link between the messianic promises and their fulfilment was already revealed—and despite the fact that several prophetic predictions were fulfilled right down to the last detail (Matthew 21: 4–5) in the events of Palm Sunday—many failed to comprehend what had happened here: namely that God had visited His people and that the Almighty had entered the city in the form of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth.

The praises of the disciples, the tributes of the crowd, and the cries of hosanna could not conceal the fact that the significance of this event had not truly been recognized— not even by those who might have actually known better, namely the high priests and scribes (Luke 20: 1–2). Although they knew the Scriptures, had seen the deeds of Jesus, and had heard Him preach in authority, the fact that God had come down to them in Jesus Christ remained concealed to them. They had their own conceptions of God—and they did not match what they were now seeing in this Jesus, who sat together with sinners and who had proclaimed love as the core of the law.

God in the conception of human beings

Today too, people have their own conceptions of God. For some, God is the Almighty, who is to be feared. And they endeavour to keep His commandments and live in strict accordance with Scripture purely on the basis of this fear.

For others, God is a distant God who remains hidden from them, whom they must spend a great deal of time studying in order to be able to say anything at all about Him—and who nevertheless remains unfathomable to them.

For many, God is not even a person, but rather an abstract principle, a kind of cosmic energy, which one can only grasp in spiritual terms. And yet, everything is so simple.

God in Jesus Christ

God came to mankind in Jesus Christ. Those who want to know God need only look to Jesus: those who have seen Him have seen the Father (John 14: 9). The answer to the question “Who is this?” is very simple:

  • He is almighty, and yet filled with love, goodness, forbearance, compassion, and gentleness toward sinners. He is not distant, but very close to mankind. He is close to the suffering, the sad, the despised, and the weak.
  • He is not hidden or unfathomable, but reveals Himself to us and can indeed be recognized. Even children can experience Him.
  • He is true God and true Man. He knows what it means to be human and can empathise with us in all situations.
  • He demands nothing impossible of us, but is always prepared to help, support, and accompany us.

That is God in Jesus Christ: He is with us, for us, and near us. And He wants to share all things with us. That is why He will soon come for us.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle, adapted for service held on Sunday, 29 March 2015 at Midrand Congregation

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