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ast week we got a bit sidetracked by the action of the denomination. Today, I'm going to push on and start a look centering on the theme of God's restoration. In particular, we're going to see this in several Old Testament passages as told in the experienced of the prophets of God's people.

Zechariah announces the coming of a king to the people. It is full of the usual sort of preparations you could imagine like rejoicing, shouting and a sense of hope. But it's more than this for the prophet because what he's been given a vision of isn't just "a" king but "THE KING". It is Messiah the king of king who is envisioned as coming among His people.

If you've been in church very much you'll recognize that these verses apply to Jesus' "triumphant entry"[1] into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. He is fulfillment of this very prophesy. Jesus is the one entering, on a donkey rather than a warhorse. In that one act, the king who comes pronounces peace and not judgment, mercy and not slaughter.

Our King is described with three words "righteous", "saved" and "humble" or "poor".  Let me remind you that righteousness is first of all a relational word. It speaks to the quality of the relationship with God and others. When someone is righteous they are in the proper relationship.

The Kingdom of this ruler is one in which proper relationship is maintained. The agreement between the people and their sovereign is maintained and part of this involves justice for those least able to protect themselves. "I will be your God and you shall be my people"[2] is the Lord's promise to us through Abraham.

This King also described as "having salvation". In Zechariah's time this fulfillment came in the fact that the human king could pronounce judgment or mercy on those he captured. Looking forward to its fulfillment in Christ, we understand that the salvation the King brings is wonderfully complete and that nothing, not even death can stand against its power.

Humbleness or poor is a word that describes the lowest of the classes. They have no resources. They have no power. They have no advocate. Likewise the word can also be understood, apart from money, in terms of being gentle, unpretentious or straightforward, lacking any sense of arrogance, hubris, or pride.

What happens when this king comes? First of all wars cease. Israel and Judah are involved in this pronouncement. Secondly, he will pronounce wholeness or peace over the earth. Did you notice, disarmament applies to both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms but when "peace" is proclaimed it is to "the nations"? The promise of God's restoration moves beyond just His chosen people to others as well. Lastly, we see the King's reign will be a universal one. The word used for this king's rule is use in Joel to describe, "treading wine grapes". The King's reign will bring peace but it will pull from those he rules the best that can be.

The promise section which follows is pretty typical for God's statement. There is a promise of release from death, that's the "watery pit" we read about and a multiplied restoration and this shall happen as God uses His people as His chosen weapon.

What does this have to do with us? Jesus is the fulfillment of about which Zechariah spoke. Jesus didn't stage his entry into Jerusalem. He came in the way he did because Jesus embodied righteousness, salvation and humility. He is God, the Son, the visible likeness of the invisible God we read in the Bible. Jesus is God made flesh. And although Philippians tells us he emptied himself[3] he did not become "less" than he was in the heavenlies. He became man and as a human, male he lived out his life in perfect righteousness both with his Father, in heaven, and us on earth.

First century Judaism didn't get this. So Jesus confronts those who refused to believe John the Baptizer or himself. John preached repentance and a coming judgment against those who didn't believe. Jesus brought the kingdom of God among people and called the less than good, the sinners, to repent and new life. Neither of these options was acceptable for the leaders and self-righteous Jews.

As a result cities which should have known better and judged. And the ultimate criticism is that Sodom will have an easier time of it when judgment comes. Jesus can say this because he is righteousness.

Jesus also brings salvation. There is no other name by which we must be saved Peter tells a group in Acts. The Book of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus is both the perfect sacrifice and the perfect priest to offer the sacrifice. Do you recall Jesus' words, "No one takes my life, I lay it down freely."

Whereas the leaders "tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them"[4] Jesus offers rest. The pastor I worked with in Abilene was very fond of an order for communion found in an old worship book which led off with this invitation from Jesus to "Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest."[5] This is an offer of salvation. It is an offer to be out of under the burden of working your way to heaven; keeping human rules; living out the expectations of others; and escaping from a religious tyranny that leads to self-righteousness and damnation.

Jesus can offer this rest because he is the "is the source of rest because he is the bearer of perfect knowledge of God and the inaugurator of his kingdom and its salvation"[6]

Yet this salvation can't be realized without taking on a yoke. Yokes tie two animals together. It is used to increase power but also to teach a new animal how to act. Understand this fact, everyone has a yoke of some type. Bob Dylan was right when he sang, "You Gotta Serve Somebody". What we find with the yoke that Jesus offers is salvation.

We discover that to be free we must be yoked and joined to Jesus. To discover possibilities we have to be yoked to the work to which Jesus is called. To discover the wholeness which the King offers we must become yoked to the King himself in order to be taught by Him.

In that act of laying down his life, Jesus not only offers salvation but he also demonstrated his humbleness. His power and authority aren't lessened as he struggles to breathe on the cross. He can call on an angelic army with just a thought but the thought doesn't cross his mind because this is what is needed. He becomes one without power or presence in order to allow women and men just like you and I to become righteous and friends of God.

This morning, the Lord's Supper is before us. It is not just a pronouncement of Jesus' death. It is also a wonderful, rich celebration of the power of God's love over death and sin. It is the means by which, we are reminded of this Love and of the relationship that is ours because of Jesus. It is also the means God uses to bring us together as His people, those chosen by Him to stand firm and to continue to seek to serve the Lord of Lords.

Come to this table. Eat, drink, celebrate, remember, be humbled, be excited, but above all be open to becoming a friend of God's. Amen.  


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[1] Matthew 21:4-5

[2] Jeremiah 7:23; 11:14; 30:22 covenant cf. Genesis 17; Exodus 2, et. al.

[3] Philippians 2:5-11

[4] Matthew 24:4

[5] Matthew 11:28

[6] Van Harn, R. (2001). The lectionary commentary: Theological exegesis for Sunday's texts (70). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

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