Martin Luther on Palm Sunday
From Martin Luther’s House Postil, from a sermon on John 12:12-19
“We should get really well acquainted with this Christ-King, and place all our hope boldly in the life which is to come, where we will be forever happy, free of all sin and infirmity. It’s for that reason that Christ came, and was crucified, died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven to occupy his kingdom. That’s how he overcame sin,death, and the devil for us, and by his blood and Holy Spirit swept us clean of all filth, so that all who believe in him are righteous and blessed, and will someday pass through temporal death into his eternal, heavenly kingdom.
“That’s why all of us should truly welcome this Christ-King, recognizing him as our righteous helper, and by the power of the Word, Sacraments, and faith, enjoy him now and forever! A Christian, you see, has not beep baptized, so that he may collect treasure and get rich here on earth – all of which he can do as well without the gospel and baptism; instead he was baptized so that through Christ he may attain eternal life. To reach that life is why we should faithfully use the gospel and our baptism. I am a baptized Christian so that I may inherit and attain Christ’s kingdom. And if I’m also blessed with possessions, I use these for my physical needs – certainly not to lift myself up into heaven!
“We should, therefore, mark all the difference between Christ’s kingdom and worldly powers, as he himself clearly showed by his extraordinary entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, without a saddle, the animal a borrowed one at that! He sat 0n it without pretense, just as he was, barefoot, without boots and spurs. From the human point of view the whole incident looked ridiculous, and yet this beggar-King, riding on a donkey, was Israel’s King, promised by God and foretold by the prophets. That was evident also from the way his followers greeted him, “Hosanna!” Blessings on this King and upon his new kingdom! “Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” All of which made it crystal clear that he was in no way like worldly rulers who have amassed a lot of treasure and property for the purpose of displaying worldly pomp and circumstance for their public appearances. Christ was no such earthly king; on the contrary, he is an eternal King, with an everlasting kingdom where one needs neither gold or silver, and yet will never suffer any want or need in all eternity.
“The world has nothing but high disdain for this King and his kingdom with its eternal blessings; it is concerned only with temporal goods: power, honor, and riches on earth. We Christians, however, are to labor here and use the world’s goods for our bodily needs, all the while not forgetting the other life. After all, we must in the end depart and leave behind the goods of this earthly life; that should help us remember where we really want to be, namely with Christ, our eternal King. For if we accept him here, that is, believe in him and heed his gospel, he will also receive us over there, saying to us, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
“This, then, is what our dear Lord Jesus Christ meant to show by his entrance into Jerusalem, so that we might truly understand him and his kingdom. On the left hand, as it were, we still live here in the kingdom of this world, but always on the right hand we reach forward and upward to his kingdom everlasting in the world to come. It was for that future life that we were baptized. May God grant us his grace so that we may joyously welcome and accept this King and remain with him forever. Amen!”
- House Postil
Thanks to Pastor Juhl, at Historic Lectionary for the quote.