Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord. Palm Sunday 2015
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. Matthew 21:1-11
March 29, 2015
“Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord”
“And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 21:7
What are the crowds shouting as they swirl around Jesus on Palm Sunday?
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
What does that mean?
The one who comes in the name of the Lord is the person who comes with the Lord’s authority to bring about the Lord’s will on earth. The one who comes in the name of the Lord comes to accomplish the will of the Lord.
So when Moses trembled before God’s presence at the burning bush, Moses asked, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I tell them? God said to Moses, ‘I Am Who I Am.’ And He said, ‘Say this to the people: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:13-14
Did you hear that? Moses went to the people in the Name of the Lord, in the Name of I AM.
The Lord told Moses His name and sent him by the authority of His name to claim Israel for the Lord as His people and to make them free.
So, to come in the name of the Lord is to come in the Lord’s authority to accomplish His will.
And now the people of Israel are saying it about Jesus—“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” They are saying, “Blessed is the one who comes to accomplish God’ will on earth.”
What the people who shout this to Jesus don’t realize is that they don’t really know what the will of God is. They think Jesus has come to do something like Moses did—deliver the people of Israel from slavery.
They don’t realize that what Moses had done was only a dim foreshadowing of what Jesus would do.
Moses didn’t really bring about the will of God on earth. He came and led the people out of slavery to Pharaoh. But it was only a temporary freedom. The Israelites only remained free as long as they kept God’s commands.
They didn’t remain free long. The history of Israel is a history of being attacked and oppressed by invaders because they were unable to remain faithful to the Lord.
The real slavery that they had was slavery to sin. Moses didn’t free them from that.
But the Lord promised them that he would send another prophet like Moses who would bring them lasting freedom and peace.
He would reign as king over the whole earth and keep God’s people from being enslaved anymore. He would truly accomplish the will of God on earth.
He would make it so that God’s people were not merely God’s people externally, who worshipped God with ceremonies and outward actions, but were His people in Spirit and truth, worshipping Him by the Spirit.
He would make it so that God’s people were freed from their real slave masters—not Egypt or Rome but from sin and the devil.
This is what Jesus has come to do. The people are right to praise Him—Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. But they don’t really understand what they are saying.
They thought Jesus was going to put them in a position to gain the whole world. They had seen His miracles, most recently the raising of Lazarus from the dead. If He was the head of their nation, just imagine the kind of glory they could expect! He would finally make the people of Israel the head and not the tail, the rulers of the world instead of slaves.
We also misunderstand what it means that Jesus has come in the name of the Lord. He comes into our midst in the Lord’s name to give us freedom and victory. We keep thinking that means He will give Christians glory and honor in this world, or that He will deliver us from suffering and humiliation. We think that Jesus has come in the Name of the Lord to do our will. He has not. He has come to accomplish the will of God. The will of God is not to deliver us from all suffering or that His church have this world’s glory and praise. The will of God is that we be set free from slavery to sin.
Moses didn’t do that. Moses came in the Lord’s name and through him the Lord delivered Israel from slavery to Egypt. But the Israelites did not go free from sin.
Jesus comes to do greater works than Moses. He not only comes in the Lord’s name and by His authority. He comes wearing the name of the Lord, bearing the name of the Lord. He is the Lord. In last’s week Gospel He said it—“before Abraham was born, I AM.”
Jesus has come to do what only the Lord Himself can do—make us free from slavery to sin and death. Only the Lord can do this because sin is against the Lord. Only He can forgive it.
And only the Lord has power to take away sins. There is no mere man on earth who can offer a sufficient payment that sins should be forgiven. Only the Lord can make a payment sufficient to remove the offense of sin from human beings.
That is what Jesus has ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey to do. He is praised, but He has not come to do a work that the world esteems. He has come in the Lord’s name to accomplish His will.
He has come to fulfill God’s commandments. He has come to establish righteousness. This He did by fulfilling the whole law by His spotless obedience to God. Now He comes on Palm Sunday to offer His spotless life up to God as the payment for our sins.
It is not a merely human life that He comes to offer but the life of God the Son. He offers it up to God in exchange for us. He pays for our sin with His blood. With His suffering He pays for God to regard us as righteous and free from sin.
And now, just as He once rode into Jerusalem to shed His blood for our justification, He rides into our midst to bestow His body and blood on us so that we might believe that we have been set free from slavery to sin.
We are not free from sin in that we no longer sin. We are free from sin in that they are paid for by the blood of Jesus and are no longer counted. They are no longer regarded as our sins because they became Jesus’ sins on the cross.
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” It is the Lord’s will that His law be fulfilled. It was also the Lord’s will that we be saved from sin and eternal death.
Jesus truly comes in the Lord’s name and accomplishes His will. He fulfilled the law. He comes to Jerusalem not to free us from pain or to win us earthly glory, but to save us from our sins. And He truly comes to us in the church in His body and blood not to exalt us in the eyes of the world but to bestow freedom from sin.
That’s why it’s right that we praise Him on Palm Sunday with the crowds and the great company of saints and angels in heaven. He is a victorious King, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is not this because people praise Him. He has not come to win us earthly splendor and victory.
But as a mighty king He comes to destroy the yoke of sin and death and make us free people of God. He frees us from sin by the shedding of His blood. As it poured out on the cross, we were released from our sins.
That’s why it is right that we sing, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” He has accomplished the will of God by the shedding of His blood. Now He gives us the Lord’s accomplished will by giving us to eat and drink the body and blood sacrificed on Calvary.
Take, eat, this is my body. It is as if Jesus is saying, “The Lord’s will is done; you have fulfilled the law. You are free.”
The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria