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Palm Sunday
Isaiah 45:22-25

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ:

I still can’t believe it, it was supposed to be “spring break,” and my sister and I were driving back to Wisconsin from college in New Ulm.  I was driving her car and being extra cautious and wouldn’t you know we got stuck in a awful snow storm.  You know, one of those ones where the snowflakes are huge and they’re coming done faster than the wipers can keep them off the windshield, the kind where you have guess at where the road is because everything is white.  Well, I remember as we were driving along and my knuckles turning very white gripping the steering wheel.  And the windshield wipers…kept getting full of snow, at one point I pulled over to wipe the windshield off and when I got back in it was just as bad as when I had stopped.  I remember driving and my view through the windshield kept getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller.  It was terribly difficult to see.  It was difficult to see the road, it was difficult to see where we were going, it was difficult to see how we could make it home in one piece!

Our lives can kind of be like that, can’t they?  It’s difficult for us to see where our lives are going, we don’t know the future, we don’t know how this situation or that will turn out, we don’t know how this can turn out for our good, we don’t always know why God allows what He allows or does what he does.  It’s so often difficult to see in life, isn’t it?

And it’s those times when it can be very difficult to see our God.  Very difficult to see His love, His power, His might, His control.  Our troubles, our difficulties, our problems, finally our sin, blinds us from seeing who our God is, who that person riding that donkey into Jerusalem is.  It is the eyes of faith that are needed to pierce through the clouds and the haze to see the glory and grace of our God, hidden but revealed.

Well, one place where God clears the windshield for us, opens our eyes, clears away the fog about who He is, is in our text for this morning.  The prophet Isaiah originally wrote to believers who were going to live about 100 years after him.  They were believers who were struggling to see the majesty, might and glory of their God.  Because of Judah’s rebellion against God, God would raise up the nation of Babylon to destroy Judah and carry off her people into captivity and exile.  Think about it.  How would you feel?  How would you feel hearing the taunts of these Babylonians as they bragged about how powerful their gods were that they defeated these Israelites and their God?  Would you be tempted to give in, to admit the power of these false gods, to doubt God?  They let their circumstances and their sins blind them to who God is.

So, to these people having a difficult time seeing who God is, Isaiah brought his message.  Guess what, it’s not you who need to be wondering about God, it’s actually the Babylonians, your captors, who need to be looking for their deliverance.  You have no reason to worry about God rescuing you; it’s the Babylonians who should be worrying about whether their gods can save them!  Finally, they are going to die and face judgment, where will their gods be then?  Then he gets to the climax of his argument in our text.  If the Babylonians want to be saved from their ultimate destruction, from perishing in hell, they need to look to help from Judah’s God!  From the God of the very people they captured!  From the very God whom they were mocking!

So if you’re an Israelite at this point, you’re rubbing your hands together, you think you’re starting to see who God is –full of anger and judgment- you’re getting ready to hear how God is going reign down His fires of judgment and mete out destruction against these Babylonians, these heathen, these godless people.  But if that was their thought, they still weren’t seeing correctly.  What does God say?  “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”  What?  Instead of destruction and judgment, here God sends out a gracious invitation to share in His salvation!  A gracious invitation to believe and be saved!  This is who God is!  This is a God like no other!

What else is the only true God like?  Not only is He incredibly gracious wanting all to be saved.  But take a look.  Second, He is faithful.  He swears by himself, His words have absolute integrity, His words will never be revoked.  In other words, God is absolutely faithful to His Word.  When He speaks it is as good as done.  When he promises to send a Savior, He will.  When that Savior promises to pay for the sins of the world, He will.  Third, He is supreme over all.  “Before me every knee will bow.”  The King whom God will send will make every knee bow before Him- either in joy or in shame.  Fourth, He alone saves.  “In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.”  Unlike every false religion which demands obedience from its adherents, the true God, the God of the Bible is totally different.  Righteousness is found exclusively in Him, not in you, not in me, not in someone else.  He has paid the price for the forgiveness of the world’s sin, He has declared the whole world free from the consequences of sin, it is only our God, the God of the Bible who can say, “The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”  This gift is ours through faith, believing in Him, we are covered with His righteousness and exult in Him.  But those who refuse him, reject him, rage against him will be put to shame.

Fast forward several hundred years to the people of Jesus’ day.  Again, their circumstances and their sins clouded and blinded their view of who God is.  Most of the people were looking not for a Savior from sin, but a political savior, someone to give them an easy life.  So, yes, the crowds cheered Jesus on that first Palm Sunday, but we know where this will end, a crown of thorns and a cross.  The Pharisees also lost sight of who God is.  “This Jesus can’t possibly be the Messiah!  He doesn’t fit our misconceptions of who the Messiah will be!  Some king riding a lowly donkey!”

Well, what about us?  Do our circumstances and sins blind us from seeing who our God is?  Do difficult times and problems cause us to doubt God’s care, His providence, His promise of protection?  Do we go to Him in the midst of troubles and problems?  Do we go to Him in deliverance for our difficulties?  Or are we blinded seeing our God as less than supreme, weak, unable or unwilling to help us?  Do good times and times of ease blind us?  Do we think God doesn’t care if we continue doing our pet sins?  Do we think God doesn’t care if we begin to trust in ourselves and our own abilities and how we’ve accomplished the great things of our lives?  Are our circumstances and sins blinding us from seeing who our God really is?

We need God to wipe off our windshield and clear our vision.  It’s easy for us to miss the majesty of that first Palm Sunday.  The God of all creation, the Lord who made the heavens and the earth, the eternal Son of the Father, rode on a donkey into Jerusalem accepting the praises of sinful humans.  Really??  But that’s exactly the God we have!  And even more than that, what did He ride into Jerusalem to do?  To be rejected, betrayed, mocked, spit on, beaten, and die a humiliating death on a cross!  Why?  To pay for your sins, my sins, and the sins of the world in full!

You see, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to be the very God Isaiah foretold.  Because Jesus rode into Jerusalem, God invites the ends of the earth to turn in trust and faith to Him and be saved eternally.  Since Jesus rode into Jerusalem to go to the cross, God shows He faithful to all of His words- He will keep every promise He’s made to you to be with you, to take care of you, to watch over you, to take you to heaven when you die.  And since Jesus rode into Jerusalem to win the ultimate battle, your God is supreme and that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”  Since Jesus rode into Jerusalem righteousness is found in Him and Him alone, He has saved you, eternal life is yours.  That’s how God clears your vision so you can see Him and praise Him.

So are you confused about the future, wondering how things are going to turn out, troubled by some difficulty, starting to get comfortable in your own achievements?  Are the circumstances clouding your sight of who your God is?  Watch as God clears the windshield for you and see, see your God ride into Jerusalem to save you and join in praising him with your life.  Amen.