Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM
               Divine Service 10:30 AM

Wednesday: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM
                   Divine Service 7:00 PM 

Private Confession by appointment.

Blessed Is He - Blessed Are We

March 27, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
March 28, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Palm Sunday
Blessed Is He – Blessed Are We

On the next day the large crowd that had come to the Feast, hearing that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took palm branches and went out to meet him, crying aloud: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD, the King of Israel.” Jesus, then finding a young donkey, sat upon it just as it is written, "Fear not Daughter Zion; Behold! Your King comes to you sitting on the foal of a donkey.” (John 12:12-15)

At the opening of Divine Service today we liturgically enacted the movements of the crowds that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday. But while it was a liturgical gesture – it was no charade!

By the use of “sacramentals” such as palms and the processional crucifix we too entered Jerusalem, the heavenly one, to meet Jesus here so that he might revive our lumbering souls by his Word and Sacrament – by which he is bodily and factually present among us to heal us today.

Always remember, Beloved, that the gospel we hear is Jesus speaking to us; and that the Bread and Wine we receive are his Body and Blood – now raised from the dead, glorified and exalted --– so that “at the name of Jesus every knee in heaven and on earth and beneath the earth should bend, and every tongue confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord” to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:11)

This is the nourishment that we are graciously given in the church so that we might not only welcome our Lord into his House, but so that we might also follow him as he instructs in today’s gospel.

But if we are to follow him we need to know where he is going; and the Lord does not leave us in suspense. He says

“Amen, Amen I say to you unless a seed of wheat should be buried in the ground and die it remains alone; but if it dies it brings forth much fruit. Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow me; and thus where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (Jn 12:24-26)

Jesus is that seed! He is the one who was “lifted up on the cross” and later buried in the ground, like a seed, and covered with good earth.

Had he not “become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;” had he not been planted like a seed in the ground, he would have remained alone as the one and only Son of God, and all others lost.

But because our King humbly rode into Jerusalem; because he emptied himself of himself and gave himself entirely over to God; because he came to Jerusalem that day bringing righteousness and salvation; he is not alone, but we are the “fruit” that he brought back from the grave with him: Palm branches of the Tree of Life.

And consider what it means to be fruit as Sacred Scripture uses that term!

Good fruit comes from a Good Tree, Jesus is the tree. He is the source of our life and beauty. His blood is the sap than runs through our veins, his flesh is our food, and we are members of his own body.

Fruit is good! Fruit gives life, health, and gladness to all who share in it. It is a pleasure to hold and behold. It is sweet and refreshes those who eat it.

We are fruit, which is Biblical code for people in whom the Life of God is brilliantly reflected. Biblical code for those whose lives are marked by: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” the very qualities of our God. (Gal. 5:22ff)

The Lord goes on to say: “Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

We should know that the Lord was first speaking of himself. Again as St. Paul says, “He became obedient to the point of death, even the ghastly death of the cross.” By losing his life he obtained pardon for all our sins, and purification for us from all the filth that the devil, our flesh, and the culture loves so much – like dogs returning to their own vomit.

By losing his life he obtained a glorious resurrection and was exulted in heaven
“with the name that is above all names” unto the ages of ages.

But in the next verse the Lord says this: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow me; and thus where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

This means that if we want to factually follow Jesus we, too, must be willing to lose our lives in this world.

We are not to “hate” our lives if by that word we get the idea that we are free to end our own lives, or live dangerously, or think that we are useless and don’t deserve to live. None of that, please!

The Lord was speaking in hyperbole when he says: “hate your life.” He did not hate his. But he knew its purpose; he knew where it came from; and where he was going. May we be blessed with that very same vision.

Nonetheless if we wish to follow Jesus, if we wish to process to this altar to meet with him here; and be honored by his Father; let us first know what it is to which we are processing.

The holy altar stands at one and the same time the MANGER in which the newborn King lay. The CROSS on which he died. And the TOMB in which he was buried and from which he is now risen again to feed us with his Living Flesh and Blood.

And let us know what Christ on this altar directs us to do: In the words of St. Paul, “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” (Rom. 12:1)

These words of St. Paul are a Eucharistic admonition. By them he exhorts us that as we receive the sacrifice of Christ’s body in Holy Communion from this alter, that we too should expend and sacrifice our lives for Christ. For his church. For his cause. And for his people – with the cross of Jesus going on before.

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Blessed are we for whom he came.

“Hosanna in the highest.”