Zechariah 9:9-12 Lent VI — Palm Sunday
April 9, 2017
St Paul’s Anglican Church

“The Crown Comes After the Cross”

An amazing passage is before us this morning… Zechariah (whose name means “God has remembered”) faithfully served the Almighty as one of His final prophets of the Old Testament… approximately 500-years before Jesus Christ walked this earth.

In his prophecy, Zechariah saw our Lord approach Jerusalem on Palm Sunday! He was riding a young donkey on which no man had ever sat. He was characterized as just and the repository of salvation. The exquisite view was marked by happiness and rejoicing – indeed, euphoria!

His Kingdom, we are told, has no need of external force whatsoever – be it chariots of war… horses… bows… arrows. For though military weapons may bring about subjugation, they certainly cannot change human hearts. Indeed, they often produce just the opposite… deep-seated bitterness that seeks revenge – what the hymn-writer terms “ancient feuds.”

The strength of our Lord’s Kingdom is an internal force — through the Spirit! By the Spirit He first makes peace, then publishes it abroad. It is not the sword that brings His salvation to mankind, but His Spirit.

And the Almighty makes it very clear that His Dominion will be worldwide – to the ends of the earth (verse 10). Gentiles, as well as Jews, will through the Messiah, be reconciled unto God… and to one another… The entire world, we are assured, will become His inheritance!

Picture our Lord entering the gates of Jerusalem with the sturdy legs of a little donkey bearing His Frame. The clip clop of his trusty hooves muffled through swaying palm branches and spread out garments… under the deafening roar of the city’s inhabitants – two and a half-million people crowded into Jerusalem for the Passover Feast!

In riding such a little donkey through the great throng, Jesus was involved in a great parody against the “great ones” of the earth — who normally rode powerful steeds with pomp and pageantry… and pride… prisoners on a leash behind them!

In all of the beauty of the events that day, we must never forget a simple five-letter word buried in this morning’s exquisite lesson! Verse 9…

…thy King cometh unto thee… lowly…

L O W L Y… lowly… lowly… lowly…

Though everyone else that day was mesmerized… entranced… ecstatic… exhilarated… we read of Jesus described as lowly.

Of course, He was lowly… He knew where the road led. Of course, He was lowly… He knew what awaited Him at the end of the trail. Of course, He was lowly… He could see Golgotha above the crowd where He would soon be suspended between heaven and earth…

Of course he was lowly… He was deeply troubled… the Man of Sorrows… acquainted with grief. He understood what most of us never realize – or if we do, conveniently tend to forget…

THE CROWN COMES AFTER THE CROSS!

This is such a powerful truth, we dare not move through life without it at our side… in our minds… in our hearts… to carry us through trials… sustain us through struggles… through pains… through challenges…

THE CROWN COMES AFTER THE CROSS!

Moses also felt the sting of humiliation… long before he ever succeeded in leading God’s people from the land of the pyramids…

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season…

Lazarus (whose sores the dogs licked) received his crown in Heaven with Abraham… while self-centered Dives calls for help from hell…

And the sufferings of Job were not a mistake… They were a test from God’s Own Hand… to determine his response! His faithfulness met with God’s approval, earning him a commendation – a crown of sorts – still in circulation among us today when we speak of the “patience of Job!”

THE CROWN COMES AFTER THE CROSS!

America became strong only after its humiliation at Long Island! America became plentiful only after its deprivation at Valley Forge.

Most people have never heard the compelling story of Abraham Lincoln, America’s Sixteenth President. In three decades he lost eight elections… twice failed in business… once suffered a nervous breakdown — before he was finally elected to the presidency in 1860!

THE CROWN COMES AFTER THE CROSS!

A mechanic… a machinist… a metal fabricator must first submit to the humbling title of apprentice for a season before earning the label “journeyman.” The journeyman must endure the test and demands of increasingly difficult challenges before earning the title “master.”

The husband and wife seeking to build a loving and satisfying marriage must first work to gather the demanding building blocks it requires: faithfulness… patience… kindness… consideration… communication…

The senior citizen, who has expended his allotted strength traversing many years… who is dogged and beset by increasing health complications… failing eyesight… memory loss… imbalance… understands this truth at the end of his days better than all others… The Almighty gives every opportunity to be humble before leaving His earth! And…

THE CROWN COMES AFTER THE CROSS!

Death comes becomes before resurrection… corruption before incorruption… mortality before immortality… darkness before light… night before morning… work before play!

The disciple is not above his Lord. The way of the Master defines the disciple.

THE CROWN COMES AFTER THE CROSS!

Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation, wrote St. James, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

We are now entering Holy Week.

Tomorrow is the day of Authority when our Lord cleans the Temple. Tuesday the day of Conflict when the religious intelligentsia tries to hold Him accountable. Wednesday the day of Silence. Thursday the day of Preparation. Friday the day of Suffering! Saturday the day of Absence!

I pray to God that we together will look… listen… and learn… from the Man of Sorrows as He moves through His appointed stations on the way to the Cross with skilled grace and profound majesty… He is the King…

But… HIS EXALTATION COMES ONLY AFTER HUMILIATION!
His GLORY COMES ONLY AFTER SUFFERING…

THE CROWN COMES ONLY AFTER THE CROSS!

May we learn this truth and live it always ! World without end. Amen

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