And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
In the churches, the first reading in the season of Advent is always the account of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, the reading brings out the most important themes of his incarnation.
Jesus comes in humility. Notice that Jesus does not storm into Jerusalem on a white horse, trumpets blasting, flags waving. Jesus rides in on a humble donkey. Jesus speaks not word. Palm branches and worn clothes are the decorations used to celebrate his coming.
In the same way, when Jesus was born into the world, he was not born to a king and queen. Jesus was not born in a palace. Jesus’ birth was not celebrated with parades and orchestral performances. Rather, Jesus was born to an impoverished virgin and a carpenter. Jesus was born in a rented stable and laid in a manger. While the songs of angels signaled Jesus’ birth, his first visitors were fearful shepherds.
Jesus comes to serve. The reason Jesus came into Jerusalem in the first place was to die. Jesus knew that he would soon be betrayed by Judas, arrested, tortured, and crucified. Yet he willingly, humbly went.
In the same way, Jesus was born into this world knowing he was born to die. He would be harassed; attempts would be made on his life, and he would be driven from town after town. Jesus knew he would be ridiculed and that he wouldn’t even have a place to lay his head. Jesus knew his life would end with his murder, and yet he was born anyway.
Jesus comes to save us. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” the crowd shouts. And blessed are you because the Lord comes. For the Lord comes to take away your sin, to take away your shame, and to take your death upon himself. Jesus comes because you cannot save yourself. Only God can save you, and so he does.
Jesus was born for the same reason. He comes to save you. He is born under the law and lives a perfect life under the law on your behalf. He lives a life like yours, but without sin. He dies a blessed death to save you from eternal death. He comes to save you from hell and bring you into his eternal kingdom.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and come, that by your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by your mighty deliverance; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.