top of page

Sunday of the Passion with Palm Procession

March 24, 2024; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz, Pastor
Advent 1 ABC; palmsunday.jpg

Please use this web site merely as
an introductory step to
attending services in person.
What our Lord does for us in 
His presence in the Divine Service
cannot be recreated here or
through any technological medium.


The big day was approaching. She had never met him, never even seen his face, but that is not unusual in such pre-arranged marriages. The important thing was that their union would save the faltering kingdom. Her father had made all of the necessary preparations. The peace treaty would provide them with a powerful ally against the enemies all around. Her father had told her about him every day since she could remember, far back into her childhood. Her bridegroom would be a powerful and strong leader to stand firm in face of every challenge and to be steadfast in his protection of her, his bride, her family and the entire realm.


This morning she awoke to good news of great joy. He was on his way. The bridegroom was near. She couldn’t wait to see him. She ran to the high tower to look out over the land. She strained her eyes far along the winding road and saw something off in the distance. It was a solitary rider. It must be the herald sent on ahead to announce the coming of her long-awaited betrothed. His army should be following close behind. Soon she would see the grandeur of his forces in their shining armour. She should hear the trumpets any moment now. The flags would be waving in the wind, followed by the soldiers marching in step. Then he will appear himself, probably riding in a gilded carriage, pulled by six or eight strong black steeds with red plumes on their heads, or maybe white horses draped in royal blue. But the solitary rider remained alone. He must be a long way ahead of the royal procession.


The citizens were beginning to come out of the gates to line the roadway. They, too, were shielding their eyes from the sun and peering past the rider to the horizon behind him. But there wasn’t even a dust cloud to be seen. There was an eerie silence on the air. No sign of an army. No show of pomp or power. The daughter’s heart dropped to the pit of her stomach. This must be a messenger sent to say that something went wrong. Perhaps the wedding had been called off or the engagement dissolved.


A single horseman galloped forward from the city to meet the approaching figure. He would bring back the news. He will let us know why the bridegroom has been delayed. It must be something significant because this strange rider was sent out alone, with no armed escort. He was not even armed himself. It couldn’t be anything urgent, for he was certainly not on a swift steed. He just ambled along, and when he finally was close enough to make out some detail, she saw that he was not on a horse at all, but riding on a donkey, moving painfully slow with its foal dawdling along.


What if it was some kind of insult to say that the treaty will not be honoured. Why else would they send such a sorry sight of a messenger? The outrider turned and hastened back toward the gates with the news as the humble herald continued his agonizingly slow pace, just now about to reach the far edge of the curious crowd that had lined the approach. The daughter took a deep breath and prepared herself for the disappointing news. Whether the report was of a delay or a cancellation she would be inconsolable.


The outrider pulled up near the city wall and raised his gaze to the top of the tower. There was no note to hand off to one of the household servants, no message whispered into the ear of her handmaiden. He relayed the message with a strong and powerful voice that could be clearly heard and understood with no mistake. And the news was even worse than the young girl imagined: “Rejoice, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation. Humble and mounted on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).


No trumpets, no flags, no army, no carriage. What kind of a royal wedding will this be? How will this solo donkey-rider save her and the kingdom? How could He deliver them from their enemies all around? How will He bring peace and prosperity to the realm? Is this a cruel joke? Her father must have been deceived in order to arrange such a horrendous mismatch for her and the needs of the kingdom.


Were any of the crowd at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem thinking similar thoughts? Here comes our Messiah on a donkey while the Roman troops regularly march through our streets. Palm branches instead of flags. Dirty overcloaks in place of a red carpet. Where is His army? Where are His weapons? How will He possibly drive out out enemies and bring peace?


If not even one of the Jews thought this way, if their waving of palms was sincere and their “Hosanna”s without sarcasm, then the Romans themselves were surely thinking this man would pose them no threat. A horrendous mismatch against the chariots and warhorses, bows and spears of the imperial army.


The concern for today is whether or not you feel the same. Is there a mismatch, O daughter of Zion, between this king who comes so humbly to you today and the great enemies that threaten and oppress you? Can He bring peace to you or is there a mismatch between this Saviour who comes humbly and the immense enormity of the power of your sins? Is there any hope that he can break the bow of the devil who shoots his flaming darts at you, and shatter the spear of shame that pierces your heart?


This King comes in such humble appearance, the mismatch is obvious. The enemies are poised and powerful. You cannot mistake their presence. This Saviour of yours is hidden in plain sight. Perhaps you are looking for something grander. Perhaps you want at least to dress Him up in more impressive accoutrements. But this is your King who comes to give you peace.


It is a mismatch, make no mistake. Your enemies have no chance to stand against this King who comes to you humble and mounted on a donkey. Even in such appearance He comes righteous and having salvation. It is in this very humility that the eternal, Almighty, Son of God, comes to His Bride.


He takes on our human nature so that He can bear the burden of our sin. He rides on in majesty on a donkey to face the chariots and the war horses. He comes empty-handed to break the bow and shatter the spear. He rides on in lowly pomp to die. And so, He is exalted upon the cross. He is crowned with a diadem of thorns. He holds nothing in His hands but the nails that hold His hands to the cross. He has no sword strapped to His side, but a spear is thrust into it. He breathes out His last and dies while His enemies rejoice. And it is still a mismatch.


For in the deepest of humility His glory shines forth. In this moment of death is His greatest triumph, and in this sacrifice of love is the salvation for His bride. It is an utter and complete mismatch. It is not just a mismatch of His ultimate grandeur and might over the strength of our enemies. It is also a mismatch with His bride. We absolutely do not deserve such a lover. Our weak and questioning faith does not deserve such unwavering commitment and faithfulness. While we are constantly looking for something shinier and more imposing, He is determined to have us as His own, to cleanse and purify us, to present us spotless on the day of our union.


It is a mismatch, and yet this King comes to you, O daughter of Zion. He finishes His ride through the city gates. He joins you at the table, and while you recline He serves you Himself, riding to you humbly again in bread and wine to share with you His victory over your enemies. This is how He brings peace to you and to His whole realm. This is the humble way He enters to forgive your sin, to defeat the devil, to banish death, and to give eternal life. “Rejoice O daughter of Zion! Shout O daughter of Jerusalem. See your King comes to you. Righteous and having salvation.” Receive Him and cling to Him and place your faith in Him. The eternal wedding will yet take place.



The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

bottom of page