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Vicar Christopher Stout

   “Who is that?”  This question is sometimes asked when someone has just taken your breath away, either by what they are doing or how they look.  When have you ever asked this question?  Maybe it was when you saw your future spouse for the first time across the room.  You tapped your friend in awe and asked, “Who is that?”  Maybe it was when you saw an amazing athlete or musician.  As I was watching a talent show on TV, I saw an 8 year girl who had the voice of a professional singer.  I couldn’t help but wonder, “Who is this girl?”  This question is usually asked out of more than curiosity.  It normally has expectations, hopes, and wonders attached to it.  And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up saying, “Who is this?”  Jesus’ works and teachings demanded this question be asked.  His entry into the city, with pomp, circumstance, shouts, and worshipping made Jerusalem and the world be stirred, literally be shaken like as in an earthquake, and wonder “Who is this guy?”.  

   As Jesus entered Jerusalem, He did so in a humble fashion.  “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”  “Who is this guy?  He had said ‘blessed are the meek’, earlier, and now He seeming to show that He is -- He fulfills -- what He demands of others.”  This entrance, though humble, created a stir throughout the whole city.  His entrance on a donkey marked Him to all Jews who knew their Bible well, as one entering as a King.  He was the one to come, to save them (1 Kings 1:32-40).  Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  The crowds were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!  Hosanna means, “Save us, we pray, O promised King who comes to deliver us!”

   Hearing this reading today, we have some perspective on these shouts of worship and joy.  This crowd will show their fickle nature as shouts of worship turn to shouts of “Crucify Him” five days later as they discover that He is not the King that they want Him to be.  “Who is this King Jesus?  Not who I wanted Him to be – not who I thought He was.  He was fine to come humbly at first.  Then He was supposed to come with great power and might and destroy the Roman rule around us and deliver our people.  Away with Him, release Barabbas.”

   Who is this Jesus to us?  He’s God who comes in humble ways.  O, how frustrating that can be!  When surrounded by those who hurt us, when encircled by a broken world, when sinned against and poked fun at on campus or in the workplace, God should not come humbly, we think, but with obvious power and might to destroy our enemies and deliver us from this world.  “Who are you, Jesus?  Aren’t you God?  You say you come humbly?  It seems that you’re not coming at all.”  

   Dear Christian, these are from the devil.  This is what our weak flesh says O, too often.  Before we can fully answer, “Who is this Jesus?” we must answer, “Who is this?” when we look at ourselves in the mirror.  Who is this that is supposed to walk in light and not in quarreling?  How do we do on that?  The quarrels with our spouses, our parents, our children, our friends and coworkers are more than we can keep track of.  Who is this that is called to love, which does no wrong to our neighbor?  O, the wrong we commit against others, sometimes without even knowing it!  In this season of Advent repentance, Paul asks us who is this who is “to make no provision for the flesh, and not gratify the desires” (Romans 13:14) of its constant demands for more food, more things, more entertainment?  Who is this that is so blind and unresponsive to the humble means in which God comes to me? Who is this…?

Dear Church of Christ, dear daughter of Zion, “Who are we…” gives us a hint as to what we should be asking when we ask, “Who is this Jesus?”  This is your King who comes to you humbly to save you from the devil and our weak, fickle flesh and to answer before God all the “who are we’s…” we ask.  He came, born humbly, to go to Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was the goal of Jesus’ journey, and it was the way to death and disgrace.  Who is this King Jesus?  He’s one who enters the holy city to exchange his royal mount for a criminals cross.  His exit will not be as his entrance.  He came as a King to be crowned with thorns.  The branches cut from trees to be laid before Him in adoration, the shouts of “Hosanna” were traded in for a humble tree on which He would hang on, as the crowd would shout “Crucify Him.”  Dear Church of Christ, dear daughter of Zion, who is this Jesus who came to humbly die to take away the sin of the world?  He is the one who comes to you in humble means.  He is the One who comes to mark you with the name of the Lord (Matt. 21:9), both upon your forehead and upon your heart.  He is the one who casts off your darkness as you put on the Lord Jesus Christ, the armor of light, in baptism (Roman 13:12, 14).  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord in these humble ways for you now.  Who is this Jesus?  This is the Christ, and you are His Christian.

   Jesus’ coming into Jerusalem was the cause for waving of the palm branches and the shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”  Jesus’ coming to you today is the cause for your proclamation as you answer, “Who is this Jesus?” by singing “Hosanna in the highest, hosanna to the Lord; truly blest is He who comes in the name of the Lord” in our communion liturgy.  He comes here to “hosanna” – to save us -- to deliver us we pray from who we are and give us a foretaste of who He is.  His coming to us is the constant source and cause for us to worship Him and cry “hosanna” -- it is the constant source and cause for us to walk in his paths, as He teaches us His ways (Is. 2:3) 
 
  This battle between who we are in ourselves and who we are in Him will only end when Christ will come again.  Until then, we pray to King Jesus, “Hosanna, thy Kingdom come” so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.  He comes to you now to strengthen you in that battle, forgive you of your failings, and deliver all the gifts He won for you in His first coming.  Who is this?  This is Jesus; who comes to you, righteous and having salvation, today.  Amen. 

 

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