Text: Mark 11:1-10
The video “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” has been viewed over 87.5 million times in the last five years. In it the wedding party for Jill and Kevin’s wedding (who are actually from the Twin Cities) marches into the ceremony a little differently than how it usually goes down. Normally the bridal party processes in to a hymn or some other music in an orderly fashion. Everyone’s excited, but also nervous and serious. That was, until about five years ago when this video came out. It began quietly like it was any other wedding procession, but then the music started. For about 5 minutes the party came dancing into the church. The crowd was dancing along, clapping, and hollering. Everyone’s having a great time. Even the pastor was up dancing in front of the altar. It was quite the spectacle, one that has been copied over and over, even on “The Office.”
It is great, and we’re certainly glad that they are still happily married, but let us contrast their entrance with the entrance of the King of the Universe into Jerusalem as we have in our Gospel text. Jesus did not ride in on a gold chariot, He didn’t call for pomp and circumstance, He didn’t even ride in on a horse and saddle. Instead, He rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, a beast of burden, even as He came in carrying the burden of our sin. Humbly Jesus rode into Jerusalem to accomplish our salvation. We remember that especially this Advent and the beginning of the new church year.
“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’’ And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it.” As Jesus and His disciples drew near to Jerusalem everything had already begun to fall into place. Though He was familiar with Bethany, as that is where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were from, Jesus knew that this time would be different. Passing through the Mount of Olives, He knew that this location would be the site of His betrayal by one of His own disciples.
Jesus sent two disciples ahead of Him into town to find a donkey that He already knew was there. When theologians talk about the attributes of God, one of the words is “omniscient,” meaning “all knowing.” Jesus, the All Knowing, Son of God rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to secure our salvation. C.F.W. Walther wrote that we should take comfort in this fact, that though Jesus is the All Knowing and All Powerful God, He did not ride into Jerusalem to destroy us for our sin, but to be destroyed Himself because of our sin. St. John wrote about Jesus’ calling of His disciples. He says that upon seeing Simon, He immediately changed his name to Cephas – Peter – knowing already the confession he would make later. Upon meeting Nathanael, Jesus says to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” John writes, “[Jesus] knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man.”
In addition to knowing all things, Jesus showed that He was all powerful by His many miracles. The Gospels are filled with the works of Jesus – healing people, raising the dead, and forgiving their sins. These things were written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Son of God. But even being the Son of God, Jesus did not count that as something to be held onto. Rather, He emptied Himself of His glory and took upon the form of a servant, being born of the Virgin Mary. Instead of coming in glory, He came humbly to bear our sin. The Son of God rode humbly into Jerusalem to die a murder’s death.
“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!’” Here we see that Jesus the Son of God rode into Jerusalem as the prophesied king of old. Though He could have just snapped His fingers and everything would be done, Jesus chose to ride in on a humble donkey in order to fulfill Old Testament prophecy. Particularly, Jesus has Zechariah 9 in mind: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Certainly Isaiah 62 also applies, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him.’”
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, not with the pomp of kings, and yet that is exactly what He is. He comes in bringing His reward – the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation – purchased by His own blood on the cross. He rode into Jerusalem to accomplish our salvation and to fulfill the prophetic promises of God throughout the Old Testament. By His death He crushed the powers of sin, death, and Satan, thereby crushing the head of the ancient serpent as promised in Genesis 3. He is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, that in his offspring all nations shall be blessed, foreshadowed as well by the sacrifice of Isaac.
The people spread their cloaks and palm branches on the road before Jesus, proclaiming the coming kingdom of their father David. Jesus is the heir promised to David, whose throne is established forever. He is the promised prince David from our Ezekiel reading last week (34) and as God says in Ezekiel 37, “David my servant shall be their prince forever.” Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the fulfillment of all prophecy.
He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the humble Son of God to accomplish our salvation. He rode into Jerusalem as the prophesied king, the fulfillment of all Old Testament messianic prophecy. And now, as we begin this Advent season and the entire church year, Christ, our savior, rides in again for our salvation. Though, instead of Jerusalem, Jesus comes here. As He was faithful to the witness and promises of God in the Old Testament, so is Jesus faithful to His promises in the New. Jesus promised that even though He goes to prepare a place for us in heaven, He would never leave us destitute or alone. Instead, He promised to never forsake us, to be with us always. He promised to be wherever two or three are gathered in His name and sent His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, into our hearts to work faith and as a guarantee of our salvation. Because Jesus is the Son of God, shown by His power and miracles and fulfillment of prophecy, He is able to make good.
In His grace He continues to come to us this Advent season and this entire year. We gather awaiting and remembering the birth of our Savior, knowing that even now He is here among us. He is present in His Word and in His Sacraments, not just in a spiritual way, but He is here and He hears us when we pray. He is here when we speak about Him with each other to comfort and build one another up. He is with you in every struggle and temptation, even as He took our sins to the cross. Scripture says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Soon we will sing in the closing hymn, “Savior of the nations, come. Virgin’s Son, make here Your home! Marvel now, O heav’n and earth, that the Lord chose such a birth.” We know that as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, humbly and not with any sort of fanciness, He rode in as the Son of God, the promised Messiah and King, to accomplish our salvation. This Jesus also comes to us even now with His grace and forgiveness, for He is the Author of life itself.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mk. 11:1–4.
 Jn. 1:48.
 Jn. 2:24-25.
 Zec. 9:9.
 Is. 62:11.
 Ezek. 37:25.
 Heb. 4:15.
 Lutheran Service Book, 332.