We celebrate Jesus coming into Jerusalem today. He is reaching His goal.
As He enters the City, His disciples rejoice. They cry out, “Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord, the King. Peace in heaven. Glory in the highest (Luke 19:38).” They call Jesus King. They acknowledge Him to be the promised Son of King David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). They proclaim Him to be the one who will sit on the throne forever. He is the one who brings the Kingdom of God in His own person. Of His kingdom there will be no end.
The disciples shout, “Peace in heaven. Glory in the highest.”
These are intriguing words. Is there war in heaven? Is there not glory in the highest?
Now it is the case that Revelation 12 talks about Michael, the archangel and the heavenly host with him, warring against the Dragon, who is the Devil and Satan. The Devil lost that battle and was cast down to earth (Revelation 12:9).
The peace in heaven spoken about when Jesus enters Jerusalem, however, is not referring to the war in heaven involving the Archangel Michael. It pertains, rather, to enmity between God and us human beings on account of sin. Certainly, it was the Devil that brought the idea and power of sin to us. Adam and Eve fell to the Devil’s temptations. When Adam and Eve gave-in to the Devil, however, they brought about God’s enmity against human sin.
Make no mistake. Sin and God are at enmity. Yet, God had a plan already then for peace. Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem means that God is about to complete His plan at Jerusalem. It is the plan of redemption by a Son of Eve who would crush the Devil’s head (Genesis 3:15).
This peace in heaven, therefore, should be read as the peace heaven makes with us in the Redeemer, the promised Son of Eve. Now the Redeemer is come. He comes to crush Satan’s power over us. When Jesus comes and dies and lives again there is peace between heaven and humanity as far as heaven is concerned.
This leads Jesus’s followers to shout glory in the highest. All of the heavenly host in worship of God is attuned to this day. The heavenly host gazes from glory upon the scene unfolding with Jesus entering Jerusalem. They find their glory as Jesus, the Son of glory, enters Jerusalem to fulfill His work as the promised Son of Eve.
The heavenly host rejoiced with the Shepherds when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Luke 2:13-14; John 1:14). Now all the heavenly host rejoices with the rejoicing crowd of disciples as the Word enters Jerusalem.
Though we cannot see them, they rejoice with us now as we rejoice in the King who comes in the Name of the Lord. We are not alone. The Lord Jesus is with us always. The heavenly host is with us as well in the Name of Him who comes in the Name of the Lord. We recognize this reality in our communion liturgy: “With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify your glorious Name, evermore praising you and saying . . . .”
There were some Pharisees in the crowd hearing all of this and watching. They are horrified. They think they must protect God’s honor, as the greatest defenders of the Law. They approach Jesus to correct Him.
“Jesus,” they say. “Do you hear what your disciples are saying about you?”
“Yes, I hear it,” Jesus says.
“Well then you better rebuke them,” they say. “For your disciples are saying things about you that are not proper to say. They are blaspheming. They are committing idolatry.”
What the Pharisees mean is this: Jesus, if you allow your disciples to continue to say such things and carry on like this, then you are really committing the blasphemy yourself, because you are allowing your disciples to say such things. You are allowing what they say about you to stand.
Jesus, however, cannot and does not deny Himself. They may complain that Jesus could not be the One who carries the Name of the Lord in His own person. In the name of the Law and all reason, they condemn Jesus and His disciples for proclaiming who Jesus is. Jesus, however, cannot and will not deny Himself. He cannot and will not deny Himself for our sake.
They will kill Him for it. He will redeem us through their killing. And He will rise on the third day in defiance of their killing. In His rising He demonstrates who He is and wins eternal redemption to all who trust in His Name.
So Jesus says, If my disciples were to keep silent, then the stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). All creation would rejoice that I, the Creator of all creation, am coming to my City. I come to the City I have called by my Name. All creation rejoices that I have come to fulfill all of My Father’s promises of redemption.
Certainly, we confess the Father as the Creator of heaven and earth. The Father, however, did not and does not do any creating and redeeming work apart from the Son. Let us repeat. The Father did not and does not do any creating and redeeming work apart from the Son. The Father does not relate to creation and us human beings except through the Son. All things were made through the Word, John’s Gospel proclaims (John 1:3). “By whom all things were made” is what we confess about Jesus in the Nicene Creed.
Jesus is telling the Pharisees that He is the One who comes in the Name and Character of the Father. Jesus is telling them that He has come to make peace between heaven and the children of Adam. He has come to lift the curse upon creation due to Adam’s sin. All heaven rejoices. Even the stones, which otherwise have no voice, would find their voice as Jesus passes by and enters in the City if there were no followers of Jesus to sing such praise.
There can be no silence from Creation and faith on the day Jesus enters Jerusalem. There can be no silence from Creation and faith on the day that the Lord comes to Mount Zion in person. Heaven rejoices. The stones would cry out in joy. The Pharisees complain. The followers of Jesus rejoice in great thanksgiving.
And so we too rejoice this day in thanksgiving, for the day of our redemption is come. Jesus enters His City. Peace with heaven is made. Heaven makes this peace as the Son accomplishes redemption. He enters the City to lay down His life and then to take it up again (John 10:18).
We realize that in accomplishing redemption the mood of this day will change dramatically later this week, as Thursday night passes into Good Friday. After the last supper with His disciples, the Passover, Jesus will enter into His anguish in the garden. Then He will be betrayed by one whom He had called friend. Then on Friday they will nail Him to a cross, and He will bear the wrath of God against all sin.
Nevertheless, we are led to give thanks today that Jesus finally enters His City. This event is worth rejoicing about in its own right. The Lord has come to His temple (Malachi 3:1). Jesus has come to win our redemption, even though it comes through bitter suffering and death (Isaiah 53). The price to be paid for our sin will be paid by the only One who can pay it, and there will be peace. He will not shrink back from the task no matter what it costs Him.
Today we rejoice because He has come. By this time next Sunday, after we have walked with Jesus to the Cross and tomb, we will rejoice with eternal joy, as He lives again to say to us with all the authority of heaven, “Peace be with you, now and forever.”