The Expected King Comes

Palm Sunday

The Expected King Comes

1. In unexpected ways
2. With unexpected results

Text:  Zechariah 9:9-1-0


This is not what you would expect.  We know what is usual.  We know what is common.  We know what to expect.  But this, this is not what you would expect.

Imagine if President Obama came to town.  Some of you may hope that never happens.  But set aside your political views and imagine if he came to Palm Coast, FL of all places.  We know what we would expect.  Air Force One would fly into little Daytona International Airport or maybe even into the smaller airfield here in Flagler County.  Security would be at all time highs.  Secret service would be everywhere. Armored SUVs or limos would transport him everywhere he went.  The red carpet would be rolled out.  Maybe one of the high school bands would play Hail to the Chief.  We know what to expect for the way the President would come to town.

We also would expect him to come for certain reasons.  Maybe he would be visiting someone of national notoriety.  Maybe he would be coming to visit a new world-famous landmark.  Maybe he would be coming to gain important votes in a Republican state.  We know what reasons to expect if the President would come to town. 

Imagine if President Obama flew coach on Delta—without secret service—into Daytona Beach.  Imagine if he stopped at Hertz and rented a ’92 Toyota Corolla to drive himself to Palm Coast.  Imagine if he came to Palm Coast so he could rent a house in the “P” section to take a vacation and then do a little shopping at the Flagler Beach Food Market on Friday morning.

That would be totally unexpected.  An expected visitor or guest like that would never come in such unexpected ways.  An expected visitor or guest like that would never come for such unexpected reasons.  Royalty travels in style.  The rich want luxury.  The powerful are taken care of and pampered.  Dignitaries, kings, and officials do official business.

But not Jesus.  Not on Palm Sunday.  Not today.  The Expected King Comes, but 1. In unexpected ways and 2. With unexpected results.


Israel had been expecting a king.  They had been expecting one for a while.  In 2000 B.C. Jacob blessed Judah, one of his twelve sons, by prophesying, The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, 
until he comes to whom it belongs.”  Around 700 B.C. the prophet Isaiah prophesied, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Around the same time the prophet Micah said, But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clams of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.”

About two hundred years later, the prophet Zechariah was on the scene.  The Israelites had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians.  Their land was devastated.  Jerusalem’s massive city walls and glorious temple had been destroyed.  But under the rule of the Persians they were allowed to return home.  Around this time Zechariah was prophet back in Israel, encouraging the people to finish rebuilding the temple.

As they were going about this great task, Zechariah gave them a prophecy of great news—a continuation of the prophecies before his time:  Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken.  He will proclaim peace to the nations.  His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

What great news!  Indeed, a reason to rejoice greatly!  A king was coming soon who would be righteous and who would save the people.  He would shatter the weapons of the enemies.  He would rule the world.  He would bring peace.  Yes!  Rejoice greatly, Jerusalem!

Five hundred years later, that prophecy was fulfilled.  The expected king entered Jerusalem, just as promised.  He even came just as described:  on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  The king was greeted with shouts of praise and with shouts of “Hosanna” (which means Save us!).  They laid their coats and palm branches on the ground to honor him as king.

Yet even though Jesus was the king and even though it was just as Zechariah prophesied, it was still rather unexpected.  This was a king?  His valiant steed was a donkey!  His secret service was a rag-tag motley crew of fishermen and sinners.  Certainly he was greeted with fanfare, but it’s not like the whole city of Jerusalem was there.  And the ones in power only wanted to kill him all the more.  How could he be a king?  They expected a king, but they did not expect him to come like this!

Yet this is the way that Jesus chooses to come to his people—unexpectedly.  He was not born on the fourth floor of Jerusalem General Hospital.  He was born in a barn in Bethlehem.  He didn’t live in a glorious palace.  He walked the dusty streets of Judea moving from town to town.  He didn’t associate with dignitaries and dictators.  He ate dinner with sinners and scumbags.  This Expected King came in unexpected ways.  He came in humility and in service.  He came not to be served but to serve and to give his life up on the cross.

Even today the King we expect comes in unexpected ways.  He does not speak to us in dreams or visions.  He does not give us signs and wonders.  He does not thunder down from heaven.  He does not zap us with bolts of lightning.  Instead he comes to us through words.  Yet they are mighty words that are his own, that are inspired, that are inerrant.  He comes to us through the Bible.

Then he adds his Word to water and comes to us in another unexpected way.  It seems like just water, but when his Word and his power are added the King also comes to us through Baptism.  Then he adds his Word to bread and wine.  It seems like only bread and only wine, but when his Word and his power are added the King also comes to us with his true body and blood through the Lord’s Supper.

Rejoice greatly, modern sons and daughters of Zion!  The Expected King Comes still to us today.  Yet today he also comes in unexpected ways.  They are unexpected ways because they cause us to give him all the glory and to put all our faith and trust in him.  Rejoice greatly!  The King still comes to you!


It was one thing for Jesus the King to come in unexpected ways, but it was another thing for Jesus to come with unexpected results.  Over time the Israelites lost the true meaning and importance of the promised Messiah.  As they became more and more carried away with their sinfulness they saw more and more need for an earthly Savior, not a spiritual Savior.

Zechariah prophesied that a king would come who was, righteous and having salvation.”  Zechariah prophesied that he would destroy enemy weapons and would rule and would bring peace.  The people were then looking for just what Zechariah said, only they were looking for a king who would do those things for them here in this world.

It was great when Jesus multiplied loaves and fish to feed over 5,000.  It was terrific when Jesus healed the sick and cast out the demons and raised some back to life.  It was refreshing when Jesus rebuked the arrogant Pharisees.  Surely one with such powerful acts and such powerful words would be the king they had been hoping for.  Surely he would be the king who would finally overthrow the Roman Empire.  Surely, if he were the Son of David, he would restore the kingdom to the glory it had at David’s time.  The people were shouting, “Hosanna!” “Save us!” but the majority only wanted someone to save them here in this world.

What kind of king do you expect Jesus to be?  Yes we sing with great vim and vigor this morning, “Hosanna!” “Save us!”   But what are we asking for?  “Jesus, save me from my upside down mortgage!”  “Jesus, save me from my bills!”  “Jesus, save me from my problems!”  “Jesus, save me from my pains!”  “Jesus, save me from my sickness!”  “Jesus, end all wars!  Destroy all terrorists!  Reduce the price of gas!”  Oh, sure we expect Jesus to be our king.  But we often want Jesus to be the king that we want.  We want Jesus to make life happy, healthy, comfortable and cozy.

But that is not the kind of king that Jesus is.  That is not the reason that Jesus came.  Those are not the results that Jesus brings.  He is The Expected King, but he comes with unexpected results.

You see rather, Jesus knows that what we need is greater than what we want.  What we need is help—spiritual help.  Jesus is not just our King.  He is also God.  That means he knows everything, including everything we have ever done.  He hears the words that you say.  He sees how you treat people.  He knows when you are in church and when you are not.  He knows what you do in private when no one is watching.  He knows your hidden thoughts of evil, hatred, revenge, lust, and greed.  He knows that sometimes you would rather have him fix your bank account status than fix your eternal status.  Jesus knew every wrong that we would do.  Jesus knew every sin that we would commit.  Jesus knew the punishment that we would deserve.  Jesus knew the damnation that we were destined for.

So the expected King came, but with unexpected results.  What we would least expect, what we absolutely don’t deserve, and what we certainly shouldn’t receive—that he came to do and to give.  The God of all and maker of the universe rode humbly into Jerusalem for a sacrifice to be made.  Not a bull on the altar in the temple, but himself—the Lamb—on a cross on Calvary.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem so that he could become our substitute.  He came to carry our sin.  He came to suffer our hell.  He came to die our death.  And as our substitute, he became our Savior—from sin, from death, and from hell.


Holy Week begins today.  Whether you know it or not, your Holy Week preparation began when you made an angled right turn onto our campus.  You processed to worship on a road lined with palm trees.  Straight ahead and staring at you through the middle window in the tower was the reason for your worship and adoration—the altar, a reminder of the sacrifice.

So now follow your King this week as he takes that same path.  Follow him from Palm Sunday to the Upper Room to the sacrifice on the cross and to the tomb.  The Expected King came for you.  But then and now he comes in unexpected ways and with unexpected results.  So, Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!”  For Christ the King has come to save us.  Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!


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Posted on April 17, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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