it’s not either or

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt tied to a donkey, not a warhorse. He rode into Jerusalem a heavenly king, not an earthly one. You already know that though. So take some time to smirk at the Pharisees who only wanted an earthly king. Christ was not what they wanted. It took about a week before they couldn’t handle it anymore and killed Him. Then go back to asking what good is a God if He won’t heal my sickness and get me a raise at work and fix all my worldly problems.

Especially this time of year let’s ease over over this sin businesses. It’s less important. After all, nobody should know the name of the thing that’s causing them such pain, right? It’s more fun to think about shopping and then maybe a little bit of earthly charity to make us not feel so bad about the shopping than a Christ born to save us from selfishness and sin. We can smirk at the Pharisees, but we want every bit as much the earthly king. Probably because we live on the same earth. There are plenty of problems in front of us. There are plenty of hurts. If we are willing to look at the Pharisees with any bit of the compassion our Lord does, we’d see where they’re coming from. We can honestly relate to more than a little of it. They wanted God to free them from an oppressive government occupation. Like He promised to. The crowds wanted help because they were poor and sick and dying. So instead of addressing that which might actually be our fault, let alone that which God calls wrong, it’s easy to understand why we just want the pain to go away.

When we talk about sin, it’s the diagnosis of the pain that we already feel, not a chance to try and kick somebody while they’re already down. The law is given not to make you feel worse but to diagnose the problem that already has you feeling bad. God gives us His law and it names what’s wrong. It’s great at identifying the problem. It’s absolutely awful at fixing it. So Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to save a people who cannot save themselves, a people sinful and hurting and scared clamoring for an earthly king because we have plenty of earthly problems. We start Advent with a Palm Sunday text because Advent is about God showing up, even inside of a sinful and painful world. Even for a sinful and broken people. Ours is not the God who stands back. He advents. He rides into Jerusalem knowing full well what will happen to Him. He comes into the city to bleed and to die for the sinners who cannot save themselves. He comes into this world to suffer and earn forgiveness for you. This is the name by which He shall be called: the Lord our righteousness. Because he is.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt tied to a donkey so that your righteousness is no longer yours to earn or buy. It was a gift given. Ours is the One who rides into Jerusalem to be our righteousness so that even though we can identify the problems we have from the law, we might look somewhere else for the answer to them. Other than ourselves and our own best efforts. Other than a chance to try and balance the scales so that the things we have done right might somehow outweigh the things we have done wrong. Ours is it the Lord rode into Jerusalem on a colt tied to a donkey to bleed and die on the cross for you. To forgive you all of your sins. He is your heavenly king, your Savior. It’s not that the earthly staff doesn’t matter. It matters so much God will join us in it. Suffering matters so much that our Lord would assume it and sanctify it even as He bears it for you. Poverty matters so much to the Lord that He who is rich beyond measure in the heavens would cast it aside to walk homeless in this world to save us. Death matters so much that our Lord would breathe His last and die so that we would be freed from it and live again. He is our heavenly king because to deal with that which is wrong on earth, He fixes what’s broken underneath it first. This is how we can face the rest of the things wrong down here.

It’s not either or. It’s not a heavenly king or an earthly king. It’s not a refusal to act for earthly needs because He’s already fixed the heavenly ones, so just be happy because at least you’re going to happen. It’s that if our Lord loves the sinners down here enough to get them to the resurrection, He’s gonna have to work with us too. That’s all He’s got. So when He works down here, it’s messy. It would be really really easy for our God to have a perfectly ordered earth where there’s nothing wrong, where there’s nobody hurting and nobody hurting others. He would just get rid of all the sinners. It would be lonely. I know you wouldn’t be there. So instead, when our Lord wants to save sinners He works among them in mercy. Instead of simply dealing with us by the law, He comes by the gospel. Not just into a world full of sin and suffering, but for the people inside of it. Not just forgiving, but healing and helping and loving, so we don’t need to ignore the blame to shield our hearts. We don’t need to hide from our faults. Our prayers don’t need to the hooks baited with charity work done once a year like some kind of sales pitch as to why we are actually worth helping. Instead, we pray to the God who wades into the midst of the pit to pull us out of it. God will not abandon us to our sins and our deaths but will join us to rise and give life everlasting. He gives us the prayers of all of the saints that gathered around Him as he rode into Jerusalem that day. Hosanna. Save us. Hosanna to the Son of David. Because He bears the name of the Lord. He is YAHWEH. God of God, light of light very God of very God. Riding into Jerusalem on a petting zoo pony so that He can save us sinners who cannot save ourselves. Save us sinners who deserve nothing but punishment, but who are died for. Who are worth helping because we have been Redeemed. Purchased and won, not with gold or silver but with His holy and precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. He will save us from all of it. Not just the fires of hell, but He’ll even work mercy in this world too. It won’t be ordered because we make a big mess down here. It will be messy, but He will not stand back from the mess we have made. He works in it even as He joins us to carry us through it. He is risen. We will rise. Even death cannot destroy. Now we can look past simply hoping to leave the land of Egypt. Now we can look past earthly needs. Now we can know that we are brought out of the land of sin and death to dwell in our own land, the resurrection. Life everlasting, free from the pains of this world because ours is the crucified king, even Jesus our Lord.

it’s not either or

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