Let us pray: Dear Savior, today as You advance toward the cross, we join the ancient Palm Sunday crowd to give You our praise and our honor. For unlike them, we know the future. We know where You were going. We know that our salvation had Your unbridled attention. And because of this, we vow to redouble our efforts to give You all glory, laud, and honor—for You alone deserve it. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST THE KING!
TEXT: Luke 19: 28-40
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
You and I were born with certain needs. We need food and drink to stay alive. We need shelter to shield us from the elements. We need clothes to help protect our bodies. We need social interaction to keep our mental health on track. We need love to make our lives special. We need work to have a sense of fulfillment. And most of all, we need Godly forgiveness and comfort to keep our hearts and souls from despair.
Have you ever thought about what God’s needs are? Viewed superficially, God has no needs since He possesses all things. And yet, when you probe deeper, you discover that God must have certain needs, too. Why else would He have created the world and us? Why else would He have invested His very heart, His Son, in saving our souls? He needs us to honor Him. He needs us to respond to His love. For it fills Him with joy.
With that in mind, on this Palm Sunday, I want to key in on one particular phrase of our lesson which is:
THE LORD NEEDS IT!
Palm Sunday is all about praising God. We know that. We know all about the palms, the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the accolades of the crowd, and their hosannas. Yet, at the very beginning of our gospel, we’re treated to an event that is often skipped over—and shouldn’t be. “After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
Obviously this little aside shows that Jesus is the Son of God. It reveals that our Savior is all-knowing. And obviously it also shows the faith of the disciples. They obey without question. And it happens exactly as Jesus had said. Put yourself in their modern-day shoes. If someone you had never met came and started to drive your car away, how would you respond? And if after you shouted at them, they said: “The Lord needs it.” What would you do? Yes, Jesus is God Who controls all things.
What did Jesus need this little donkey for? Why didn’t He enter Jerusalem on foot? Or, on a mighty war horse? First, because He deserved better than arriving on foot.—After all, kings never entered cities they had conquered on foot at that time. And secondly, He picked a humble donkey to show forth the type of reign this conquering King was assuming—reaching into human hearts through humility—while also fulfilling an ancient prophecy from Zechariah: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, (the Church) ‘See your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” Yes, the Lord needed this little donkey to comfort us and take away fear over His coming reign. In a sense, this little aside is an encapsulation of the gospel, isn’t it? For Christ reigns in us through peace, joy, humility, forgiveness and love—not through fear and terror.
As true man, Christ’s flesh was exactly like ours with one exception: He was without any taint of sin. So, He had similar emotional needs as us, as well. And on an emotional level He needed the strength of the crowd that day. He knew what was coming—the cross and death. Doing that to save us was a hard pill for God’s Son to swallow. And so He emotionally needed the accolades of the crowd that day to help solidify His sense of purpose. And He received them, too!
“They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.—(Sir Walter Raleigh wasn’t the first to do this when confronted by his sovereign!) When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’”
That last little sentence is perhaps the most important of all when it comes to explaining the phrase: “The Lord Needs It!” He needed their praise and honor that day and the Holy Spirit helped make it happen. He needed it so much that if everyone had shut up and said nothing the very stones lining the roadway would have been given voice by God Almighty. Yes, the Lord needs the praise of His people. He deserves the praise of His people. For it gives Him joy! It fulfills Him!
God originally created humans with a free will for this very purpose. He needed us to freely respond to His goodness and praise Him. Adam and Eve chose to do otherwise and their lack of praise has been passed down to us via original sin. And yet, God needed our praise! So, He promised them a Savior Who would earn it by doing the seemingly impossible—dying in our place to re-forge our will. Yes, it is pure love from God that changes human hearts and elicits praise. It is faith in His promise of salvation that makes gratefulness well up inside until it breaks forth in songs of joy. Here they praised Him for His past miracles. Today we praise Him for the miracle of miracles—dying for our stinginess when it comes to putting Him first and also rising from our graves of lamentation to a new life of joy and oneness with Him.
Throughout the Bible, praise is talked about. Throughout the Bible praise is spoken of as making God happy. And since He’s given us the ultimate happiness—a new life—we are His living stones which cry out: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Yes, heartfelt praise is the greatest gift any of us can give to our Lord. For, He needs it! He wants it. And you and I have the honor of providing it! Amen