Our Joyous Job

Sermon 1798 Luke 19.28-40 April 10, 2022

Sometimes it is hard to get the little ones to help out around the house. Picking up the toys seems beyond their mortal abilities. Maybe it’s a job for Superman, not them. Putting their dirty clothes in the laundry. As incomprehensible as Einstein’s theory of relativity. But when it comes to helping mom bake a cake with frosting, the volunteers form a line. Yes, it could be because everybody likes cake. Devil’s Food cake, marble cake, lemon cake, confetti cake. Some cakes are so good you have to have a party! But what takes the frosting is the frosting! Nothing better than licking the spoons, spatulas, beaters and even getting a whole hand into the mixing bowl! Good work, if you can get it.

If we are becoming nostalgic for the good old days of being four or five, this sermon is for us. The Lord has something just for us. Luke’s account of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday reveals

Our Joyous Job

1. Ready to go (28-35).

2. A crowd pleaser (36-37, 39-40)

3. Something in it for me (38).

Nobody likes to help when everything isn’t ready to go. That’s why a lot of church clean-up days go sour—some churches don’t think getting prepped and having the jobs and tools ready is a necessity. Going to the store to pick up a missing ingredient is taxing on the impatient. And humans are impatient.

Everything about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday was ready to go. Take the donkey colt he was to ride upon.

“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.’ They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it (28-35).”

Palm Sunday was to be Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah had promised it. A thousand years before, glorious King David had ridden a donkey. Nobody was rich enough for horses back then. The Son of David would ride a donkey into the capital city. But Jesus, poor as he was, didn’t even have a donkey. He uses some of his divine power to see the future, see the village ahead of him. He knew there was a donkey there, just the kind he needed, a little donkey so small no one had ever thought of riding it. He knew the owners would let him use their donkey. Everything was ready to go. The disciples “found it just as he had told them.” They bring him the donkey.

Now, go to the end of Luke’s Palm Sunday account. When the Pharisees object to the praise Jesus is receiving, he tells them, “‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out (40).’” Once again he is going to Zechariah’s words. The praise was ordained. The Holy Spirit had predicted the people would shout the Savior’s praises.

Everything was ready to go. Let’s start baking! No little boy would say it is a set-up. No little girl would say mommy is forcing her. Who would be that warped? But isn’t that exactly the way the devil and our sinful human nature look at praising our God? A set-up! Arm-twisting! What a slave driver God is!

Our God is so wonderful he works through our will. He didn’t tie Jesus’ hands. Jesus wanted to do this. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me,” Jesus told his disciples one day (John 4.34).” In the same way, God doesn’t force us. That’s what the devil does. Once he has an unbeliever in his power, they are remote controlled. Everything the devil, the wicked world and the sinful human nature wants them to do, that’s what they do. That’s the reason so many post-World War II thinkers believed life was absurd. We were trapped in it, unwitting agents of mischief and mayhem.

The life of a believer is far from absurd. Through the miracle of faith, the Holy Spirit puts a new heart within us, gives us a new will to guide us. That’s why we can have the same attitude as that of Christ, a servant attitude, a humble attitude, a godly attitude that will be crowned with glory. Those are the good attitudes and good deeds God has prepared in advance for us to do. We couldn’t have a joyous job without the Lord’s prior planning.

Our joyous job is a crowd pleaser.

So often people portray the life of Christians as a dour and sorrowful existence, one pail of tears after another, followed by a meal of dust and ashes. That sure doesn’t sound like the welcome Jesus received on Palm Sunday.

“As he went along people spread their cloaks on the road. 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. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples (36-37, 39)!’”

You know you are having a good party when the stick-in-the-muds threaten to call the cops on you, but they are just bluffing because know they don’t have a leg to stand on. They are jealous. And why shouldn’t they be?

Everybody is rejoicing. Everybody is going the extra mile to make this day special. On the road to the east of Jerusalem people were putting their cloaks on the road so Jesus’ little donkey wouldn’t have to get its hooves dirty—the ancient equivalent of the red carpet treatment. The crowd breaks into praises as they stream down into the Kidron Valley. We’ll get to that in a moment, but the praises are because of all the miraculous things Jesus has done. Who wouldn’t rejoice that the blind could see, the deaf hear, the lame walk? Who wouldn’t be singing Jesus’ praises for raising Lazarus from the dead a few weeks before? Had they been there when Jesus fed the 5000? Had they eaten some of the bread and fishes? Were some of the nine lepers Jesus cleansed on the scene, this time giving him the praise that they were too busy to give when he first healed them?

My point is this. If the world wants to mean-mouth Jesus, it has to ignore all the good he did. The miracles must count for nothing. Jesus’ loving heart must be overlooked. You would have to turn Jesus into a two-dimensional paper doll and lie that all he was after was power and money, just like any other leader of a religious movement.

But if you look at Jesus objectively, if you take him at face value, look at the good he did! Everybody has to rejoice. Everybody loves a winner. Jesus is a crowd pleaser and there is something absolutely thrilling being in a crowd that is united in its attitude, spirit and chants. Our joyous job is a crowd pleaser.

But often the rejoicing crowd passes individuals by. You know—the tears of a clown sort of thing. Our joyous job has something in it for me.

Look at what the crowd was shouting.

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest (38)!”

Jesus is my king who was sent by the Lord himself to defend me from all sin, from death and the devil. Jesus brought peace between me and heaven by getting rid of all my sins. There is no longer any reason for God to be angry with me. Jesus came to bring the highest glory to God as I join the ranks of the saved here on earth to sing his praises in a rehearsal of the thanks and praise I will give him when I enter heaven. Each one of us can say that. Jesus belongs to each one of us. Our king, our peace, our glory. It all centers in Jesus. As we perform our joyous job of praising him, these blessings become more obvious to us. These blessings become more and more a part of us.

This is the joyous job before our Confirmation Class. Oh, it isn’t that they haven’t been carrying out this job already. In Sunday School, with Christmas programs, in their daily life, they have been praying, praising and giving thanks. But in a special way today we regard them in a new light. They aren’t kids any more. They are to be counted as adults in the eyes of the Lord. They have reached the spiritual maturity and attained the depth of insight to become communicant members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. To live the Christian life, to pursue the good, to know your God and to know who you are and your purpose in life, that is a heritage few your age can boast of. Gifted and talented isn’t praise enough for the faith and wisdom the Holy Spirit has placed inside your hearts.

Keep walking with Jesus with your heads held high, your hearts open to the needs of the people of our world and your spirit renewed daily by the teachings of Jesus. Inspire the rest of us as you remind us of our first zeal and love for our Lord.

It is not a duty. It is not your obligation. It is

Our Joyous Job

1. Ready to go (28-35).

2. A crowd pleaser (36-37, 39-40)

3. Something in it for me (38).

Yes, baking and frosting cakes were jobs moms never had to do alone. There were plenty of little hands to help her. It made their day. God knows we’ve never outgrown those days. The life of a Christian is a joyous job and each day we discover that anew. Count me in! How about you?

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