This day was 34 years in the making. 34 years before the angel Gabriel from heaven came to Mary and told her she would conceive in her womb The Son of The Most High. Today, March 25, 9 months to Christmas, is the day The Church remembers His Conception. We call it His Incarnation, His coming into, His taking on, our human flesh. We call March 25 Annunciation, because Gabriel announced Jesus’ Birth to Mary today.
He came forth a Rod out of Jesse’s stem, a Branch grown out of his roots. And on this day, on Palm Sunday, Israel cut palm branches and waved them as He paraded into Jerusalem. We call it His Triumphal Entry, because He rode in as King of the Jews. Solomon rode in on his father’s donkey when he was crowned king before David died. He rode in, in triumph over all His foes. The Jews’ leaders couldn’t stop the children from singing. What a happy day!
But why was Jesus riding in, and why on that day? Passover was near, the night Israel was freed from Egypt. God told Israel to keep celebrating that day, that day the angel of death passed over them because of the roasted lamb they ate and its blood painted on their doorframes. He intended them to celebrate it until His Son fulfilled it. On Palm Sunday the priests chose the perfect lambs for the Passover sacrifice. So Christ rode in to town to show He was choosing Himself to cause death to pass over us.
Sin and death – these are the big problems in life. You can’t have one without the other. “The wages of sin is death,” just like God warned Adam. Adam died because he sinned. You will die because you have sinned. The Collect for the feast prays that His holy conception would cleanse our sinful conception. He was conceived without sin. No human male could pass the sinful seed down since He was born of Virgin undefiled; The Holy Spirit overshadowed her so she conceived God’s holy Son. But your parents were sinners and you inherited sin from them. “Flesh gives birth to flesh,” and the flesh is full of sin.
How do we know we are sinners? Palm Sunday’s Collect tells us. It prays for humility and patience. When people think of you, do they think you’re patient or impatient? Do they think you’re humble or conceited? What do you think about yourself? Are you patient and humble? Are you impatient and conceited? A little of both, depending on the day or your mood?
What’s the big deal? Aren’t these things just part of life? We accept impatience more than conceit, but we all can think of times when we were either and how that made others feel. We can also think of times that others were those things to us and how that felt. Now we can begin to realize why God wants us to be patient and humble. When we’re impatient, we’re being unforgiving towards others – this leads us to not believe God forgives sins. When we’re conceited we’re trying to claim we’re better than others, when we’re just as sinful as everyone else – this leads us to deny we need God’s forgiveness. Not only that, but these 2 things are the exact opposite of how our Savior acted because He was keeping God’s commands. That’s why conceit and impatience are sins.
Jesus died to forgive these sins. He could have been as stuck-up as anyone since He truly is better than us. Instead He made Himself a slave. He could have come off The Cross and struck them all dead, but He instead submitted Himself to death. He could have impatiently killed them while He was enduring hours of sham trials. Instead He went silent to death, even the death of The Cross. Jesus’ patience and humility in death forgive your impatience and conceit. God no longer sees those sins; He sees the works Jesus did for you when dying instead.
Your sins are forgiven. Jesus lived a perfect life in your place, to take the place of your sinful life, to appease The Law that must be kept. But He also needed to take on death. Since the Law was broken, punishment was necessary. We needed death to pass over us if we were to live forever. But mere mortals are too frail to stop death in its tracks. We needed someone stronger, someone eternal. Only the Immortal Lord God could do it – and that’s what happened.
Israel had been in bondage. Pharaoh would not, simply would not, let them go. God had to end the lives of all Egypt’s firstborn to get Pharaoh to release his vice-grip on them. Death passed over them. They painted their doorframes with blood from the perfect lambs He ordered them to kill and eat. In faith they did it – if they didn’t believe the promise, they wouldn’t have done it! God kept His promise! The angel of death passed over them. They all lived. They left Egypt to go to the freedom of the promised land.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem to be the ultimate Passover Lamb. Sinful men slaughtered Him, but He let them do it. They said, “His Blood be on us and on our children.” They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. Jesus died and shed His Blood in order to put it on you and your children. His Blood now marks your door. How? Are you baptized? He marks us with His Blood when we are baptized in the Name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Ghost.
Holy Baptism has marked us for salvation. So when death comes to the believer it must pass over us. Jesus’ Blood won’t let it take us down to hell. It ushers our souls into God’s nearer presence. When He comes again and raises us from the dead, our Good Shepherd will see His Blood on us and bring us to His side to live forever with Him.
That’s why we sing “Blessed is He that cometh in The Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” every time we commune at this Altar. His Father sent Him to save us. That word Hosanna is the Hebrew way to beg God to save us. You are praying this: “Lord Jesus Christ, You came down from heaven and were born of Virgin mild to save me! So save me! Let me eat Your Body and drink Your Blood in true faith, truly sorry for my sins, desiring to serve You and my neighbor. Give me through this Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Help me through it to love God and to serve my neighbor. Help me to be patient and humble like you at all times as I wait for You to deliver me from all evil once and for all. Never let me be separated from you. When my last hour comes bring Me to you in heaven. In You and You alone I find all blessing.”
The message of the angel made known to us The Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He told Mary she would conceive The Son of The Most High because The Holy Ghost would overshadow her. She conceived and bore Jesus Christ our Savior. His Cross and Passion brings us to the glory of His Resurrection. The Immortal God died so we mortals might live forever. He died to forgive us. So wave your victor’s branches of palm. Christ is victorious. He has conquered. Sin, death, and hell have no more power over you. Satan cannot hold you. His Blood covers you, cleanses you, enlivens you. You belong to Him. “O Bride of Christ, Rejoice!”