TEXT: MATT 27:11-66/JOHN 12:12-19/PHIL. 2:5-11
KEEPING WATCH OVER JESUS!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Dear saints in Christ Jesus, this Sunday is known as Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday!  This joining together is a very good thing!  Jesus had often entered Jerusalem before, but never like this.  A grand day!  Joy and expectation flooded over the people!  “Hosanna” – “save us now” they shouted. 

Knowing well how He must “save us now” Jesus did not reverse course.  Knowing that the branches of Palm trees would soon give way to the dead wood of the cross – He turned not backward.  His face was set like flint!

Palm Sunday must always be intimately united with what happened in the Great Week that followed.  Holy Week we now call it.  A simple phrase from the passion reading helps make that connection.  When they had crucified him, they divided his garments…Then they sat down and kept watch over him there.”

TEXT: MATT 27:11-66/JOHN 12:12-19/PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11
KEEPING WATCH OVER JESUS!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear saints in Christ Jesus, this Sunday is known as Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday!  This joining together is a very good thing!  Jesus had often entered Jerusalem before, but never like this.  A grand day!  Joy and expectation flooded over the people!  “Hosanna” – “save us now” they shouted. 

Knowing well how He must “save us now” Jesus did not reverse course.  Knowing that the branches of Palm trees would soon give way to the dead wood of the cross – He turned not backward.  His face was set like flint!

Palm Sunday must always be intimately united with what happened in the Great Week that followed.  Holy Week we now call it.  A simple phrase from the passion reading helps make that connection.  When they had crucified him, they divided his garments…Then they sat down and kept watch over him there.”

They kept watch.  The basic meaning of that word is to keep something in view – to take note of and pay attention to it.  Jesus had been watched in this manner as a child.  Shepherds, along with His parents watched a new born.  Simeon and Anna beheld Him in the temple.  Wise Men gazed on Him and bowed before Him.  Jesus had been watched in this manner as a man.  First, by John the baptizer – “Behold the Lamb of God!”  Then, He was watched by His disciples as He called them to follow Him. 

As He performed signs and wonders the people watched Him with thanksgiving.  As He taught with authority, the religious leaders watched Him to trap Him.  Especially when He ripped Lazarus out of the jaws of death – the crowds and the leaders watched Him.  The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb…continued to bear witness.  The reason why the crowd went out to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.  How the people watched this death-defeating Messiah as He rode into the city as its King!  “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”  How the religious leaders watched with dismay, “You see we are gaining nothing.  Look, the world has gone after him.”   We aren’t told where the donkey stopped or what Jesus did that Sunday evening.  But we know that He was watched – by His disciples – by the people – by those planning to kill Him – by Judas – by the Father in heaven.   

Five days later, Pilate watched Him up close.  He saw Jesus stand silently and take the insults of the crowd.  He saw Him so clearly that He pronounced Him innocent three times.  In his office as governor Pilate kept watch over Jesus for awhile.  But finally he caved in to the screaming crowd.  He feared a riot more than He feared doing a great injustice.  Governor Pilate did not hold steady under the pressure of the agitated people.  He released…Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. 

Soldiers then watched Him as they spit on Him and struck His head.  They took note of Him as they mocked Him and led Him away to Golgotha.  They saw Him falter along the way and pressed Simon into service.  They paid close attention to His body and its position as the spikes were driven home.  It was their job.  They had even divided up the simple garments of the man who the Sunday before had His path carpeted with the garments of others.  

Now the heavy hitting and the heavy lifting of this execution detail were done.  Everything was in place!  They only had to wait for Him to die.  At this point they could relax just a bit.  For the time being, they sat down and kept watch over him there.

It was a shameful sight they beheld – a bloody and naked and humiliating sight!  Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

Do you sometimes grow weary of hearing those words – of Jesus’ humiliation?  Yes, yes, I know that Jesus humbled Himself.  How calloused our hearts can sometimes be to this treasure beyond any measurement – to that which is our life! 

Do you sometimes grow weary of hearing this truth?  Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  It will be all that matters when death humbles you.  It will be all that matters when death humbles me.  God help us not to grow weary of it.

It is the sole reason He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  Christ entered once for all into the holy places by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.  For us sinners, His sacrifice would rip open heaven from the top down.  This reconciliation with God is mirrored by the temple curtain torn in two from the top down. 

So Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it and rode into Jerusalem.  “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” 

So those making plans to kill Him kicked their efforts into high gear.  Soon The chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.   

So the governor said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”  So the crowd shouted “Let him be crucified.” 

So this man responsible for justice washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”  So all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”  

Jesus had often entered Jerusalem before, but never like this!  “Hosanna” – “save us now” they shouted.   It was the very day the Passover Lamb was selected for sacrifice.  As the people watched unknowingly, A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth…laden with the sins of earth. Jesus had often exited Jerusalem before, but never like He did near the end of this week - bloodied and thorn-crowned.  His Father watched too.  O wondrous love what have you done!  The Father offers up His Son, desiring our salvation.  O Love, how strong you are to save.

So the soldiers crucified him.  Then they sat down and kept watch over him there…When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”  

God help you to keep watch over the Son of God this holy week and all the weeks of your life.  God help us to take note of and pay attention to His presence and His provision of the eternal redemption He has secured.  Lord when your glory I shall see…And taste Your kingdom’s pleasure, Your blood my royal robe shall be…My Joy beyond all measure.

His blood be on us and on our children. 

In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a