Palm Sunday (Series C)
March 20th, 2016
CLB Commentary – Rev. Dale Hanson
It is interesting that the Religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus during the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Passover. These festivals commemorated God’s deliverance and became the timing of His greatest deliverance ever. One wonders if these religious leaders ever thought of the connection. It is also interesting that they feared the people but seemed not to have any fear of God, whom Jesus claimed he was. It is clear they had little or no comprehension of what was about to happen.
How does the fact that scripture states that Satan entered Judas relate to our own struggle with the Devil, the world and our own flesh? Considering the fact that Satan could so tempt one of the twelve disciples should make us aware of the danger. I am not sure we have any understanding of the battle Satan rages against our Savior and our own soul.
Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb, sacrificed during the same time that Passover was happening! Notice how perfectly Jesus had prepared everything including how the disciples would identify the man who would show them the room for their Passover. Women usually carried water, so a man carrying water would be easily noticed.
Jesus said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Clearly He was willing and ready to become the Passover Lamb. He even states that he will bring about the fulfillment of Passover in God’s kingdom. As they begin the Passover meal Jesus departs from the regular ritual to speak of his body, identifying the broken bread with his body given on the cross as a vicarious sacrifice. Likewise he speaks of the cup of wine as his blood. To what degree did his disciples understand what was happening right before their eyes? The thing they question and talk about is which one of them would do such a thing as betray him.
This text records for us the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We are to do the same in remembrance of Him. To remember Christ is to remember his benefits, and the foundation of his benefits is life and salvation in the forgiveness of sins. In the Sacrament we see how he delivers to us the forgiveness he accomplished on the cross. What an important and necessary Supper, where spiritual food and drink are freely given. To neglect the Lord’s Supper is to ignore the most important meal given to us. Luther spoke of his love for the Sacrament and realized his need of it. One wonders why we offer it so infrequently in our worship services. We, who understand the importance of God’s Word and His means of grace, seem willingly to put all sorts of elements in our worship service even at the expense of Word and Sacrament. It might be helpful for us to rethink such things.
Luther expressed that he often struggled with feeling worthy to receive the Lord Supper and yet he would go because he realized that it was God’s good means of grace and that he needs all that God offers.
Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday, is the most significant week in the history of the entire world. We should be speechless as we consider the awesome events and the unspeakable gift of grace Jesus provided through his death and resurrection for us poor and helpless sinners. We should fill our Lenten services with the hymns of the church that speak in profound ways of the mystery of the cross. Our eternal hope was established that week and the events in the life of Jesus. Praises be to God.
Pastor Dale Hanson
Resources used: The Lutheran Study Bible and the three-volume set by Ewald M. Plass, What Luther Says