Our King Comes In Humility: Zechariah 9:9-10

Suppose the President of the United States was coming to town.  You then set up chairs at the side of the road and wait to see him.  A short while later, the traffic begins to thin out on the road.  You hear the thumping sound of helicopter blades overhead.  Ten minutes later, the road is eerily empty.  This is the first time that you have ever seen this road without any cars on it.

In the distance, a police car comes racing down the road.  It rushes by with its lights flashing.  Suddenly, you see two other police cars in the distance.  They rush by, and a swoosh of air strikes you.  Then, in the distant haze, you see other cars.

Well, what do you think you would see?  After all, this is the President of theUnited States.  You know what to expect.  You have seen the presidential motorcade on television.  And the car in which the President rides testifies to the power, honor, and glory that his office holds.

On this glorious day, we in the Church remember our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, when God Himself revealed His true glory.  That day, 2,000 years ago, the eternal Creator of the universe, began His triumphal trek to His most-glorious and honorable day on earth.  So, how did Jesus enter town?  Was it like the President of the United States?

Would you expect to see the President and his motorcade drive by in an old Ford Pinto or a Yugo with rusted doors?  Of course not!  So, how did God enter town?  He entered on a donkey.

The Prophet Zechariah prophesied our Savior’s humble entry intoJerusalem.  “Look!  Your king is coming to you.  He is righteous, and he is able to save.  He is humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  Is this our Savior?  Why would God ride on a donkey?  Why would He choose such a lowly beast of burden?

God chose such an entrance because it shows why He came.  He came to serve.  He came to save.  For us, in this fallen world, God hides His glory within humility and servitude.  In such servitude, the Righteous One became unrighteous to save us.  The holy One became unholy to save us from our sins.  Jesus, God in the flesh, humbled Himself to take in our filthy sinfulness, so He could give us His righteousness in its place.

But the world in which we live looks for a powerful procession, not humility.  The world looks for limousines and well-armed motorcades.  The world wrongly assumes a mighty and majestic entrance for the Creator of the universe, like that fit for any other powerful ruler.  For the unbeliever sees with his fallen eyes, not through the eyes of faith.  The sinner looks and lusts for the excitement and honor found in the trappings of earthly power.

We lust for a popular and powerful Jesus.  We sinfully seek a kingdom builder of wealth and power.  We want a popular Jesus who attracts the crowds, like the Jesus who fed the thousands through a miracle of His own making.

But what about the Jesus who later told the thousands how it was to be?  That Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).  The crowd didn’t like what they heard, so they deserted Him.  For them, that wasn’t the glory of God they wanted.

And that same Jesus, the One who humbled Himself to save us, calls us, His disciples, to similar lowliness and humility.  That’s why we confess and believe in a Jesus whose glory is not the glory of the world, even when our sinful flesh yearns for it.  Suffering and death is not the world’s definition of glory, but it is for Jesus–at least when it’s His suffering and death for our sins and our salvation.

We wayward sinners need the glory of a God who died, not the glory of the fallen world.  We need a God who suffered.  We need the glory of the cross.  That’s the irony of the Gospel.  It is a scandal to the sinful.  But that’s the hidden truth that our sinful eyes cannot see, but that which faith believes and confesses.

The glory of God that saves us is the death of God!  We might think the glory of God is in the splendor of the sunset or the majesty of the mountains.  We might think the glory of God is in the birth of a child.  But these wonders of creation do not save us.  These are but examples of the glory of God’s power, but not the glory of God itself.  The glory of God is not in His display of power but in His salvation for us.  Again, the glory of God is not in His display of power but in His salvation for us.

And what is the glory of God that saves us?  It is His conception and humility, His birth and life, and His suffering and death–all in our place to save us.  For our sin made such humility necessary.  Your sins, whether small or large, whether hidden or visible, were all taken in by Christ.  God gave up His holiness and power in exchange for our sinful and suffering way of life.  That’s where we see the glory of God, hidden behind such humility, because that’s how He saves us.

“All right,” you may say, “I understand how suffering and death are the glory of God, because that’s how He saved us.  But how do I see the glory of God in my everyday life?”  You don’t directly, because God still has to hide it from us.  Why does He have to hide His glory?  It’s because we are still stained with sin.  The unhidden glory of God would kill us.  That’s what God told Moses: “You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live” (Exodus 33:20).

So, through the eyes of faith, we see the glory of God where He tells us that He hides it.  You may ask, “How does that work?”  In this way: Even today, within the lowliness of this sinful world, God still hides His glory.  Wasn’t Christ’s glorious and triumphant entry intoJerusalemon lowly and humble donkey?  Later that week, God displayed His glory hidden in the humility of the cross.  That’s God’s normal way of working in this world.  That’s how God displays His glory to us.

Today, He still hides Himself to save us.  But now it’s in the water of baptism and bread and wine of His Supper.  Now, it’s is the forgiving words of absolution.  Now, it’s in the preached Word from the pulpit.

God comes to us–not in thunderbolts from heaven–but hidden behind His creation to save us.  But God also hides Himself in the quiet reality of our daily lives.  How does He do this?  Consider this: God has called you to serve others in many ways.  He calls you to be a grandmother or grandfather, a mother or father, a son or daughter.  God calls you to be a teacher or a student.  And so you do what mothers and fathers do.  You love and care for your children, for there hides the glory of God.

“But, Pastor, it doesn’t look like the glory of God.  It looks like, well, normal, daily life.”  That’s it!  Now you are getting it!  You see, in the humility and servitude of your daily callings, that’s where God is also hiding His glory.  It’s not usually flashy.  It’s probably not prominent or powerful.  It rarely makes the nightly news.  It is almost always the normal grind of daily life.  However, there hides the glory of God.

Getting the children up and ready for school reveals the glory of God.  Loving your wife and caring for her needs is the glory of God.  The glory of God is in washing clothes and changing diapers.  The glory of God is in going to work and bringing home money for your family’s well-being.

How can this be?  By His grace and His call for you to be His own in your baptism, our Lord makes your work holy.  He gives you faith, which receives the holiness of Jesus.  After all, that’s why you are holy.

We don’t recognize the glory of God with the eyes of our fallen flesh.  Did the world see God’s glory in a dead man hanging on a cross?  No, for it’s only through the eyes of faith that we can see the hidden, glory of God.

That’s why we recognize our Lord and His glory in our normal, painful, and hurting lives.  That’s why we understand that God and His glory come into our lives in the poor and the sick, in the lonely and the hurting.  Isn’t that what Jesus said?  “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

But we especially see our Lord’s glory in His death.  For there, on the cross, our Lord paid for our sins.  That’s why, by faith, you see His glory there.  For there, in all humility, He served our most-desperate need.  On that triumphant day of entrance intoJerusalem, our Lord Jesus sat on a donkey in humility.  In that triumphant entry, He entered the way of the cross.  That entrance took Him to His most-glorious moment: His death on the cross.

Through the glory of the cross, our Lord gives to us and teaches us to see His glory.  That’s why when we look at our lives and see them in faith, we can even see the glory of God in our suffering, in our humility, and in our servitude.  He calls us to love Him and others.  But once again, our love for God is hidden in our love for others whom God has placed into our lives.  When we love them, we love God.

Yes, the love of God and His mercy came to you hidden in the waters of your baptism.  It comes to you now in the bread and wine of His supper, which is also His body and blood.  These bring the glory of God to you for your salvation.  They are lowly and humble.  But there, Jesus triumphantly brings you into His kingdom, in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity.  Amen.