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4501 Waller Rd E
Tacoma, Washington
INI
Palm Sunday
March 20, 2016
Ascension Lutheran Church, Tacoma WA
Paul Naumann, Pastor

There Is POWER in the Name of the King!
Psalm 8:1-9

To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you, Amen. Our text on this Palm Sunday comes from the Eighth Psalm, beginning with verse one, as follows:

O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen- Even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth! This is the Word of God.

In Jesus Christ, Who entered Jerusalem in triumph on Palm Sunday, Dear Fellow Redeemed,

Up until very recently in the world's history, the name of a king was an extremely powerful thing. Of course there aren't many kingdoms left in our modern world, so the idea is king of foreign to us. But if you and I had lived, say, in the Europe of 300 years ago, we'd have had no trouble figuring out how powerful the name of a king could be. Back then, "democracy" was an unheard-of form of government, and the whole world was under the control of a handful of kings and emperors. These monarchs made themselves as majestic and remote as they could. If you were a commoner, you'd probably never even see your king in person. But the name of the king would govern your whole life! Tax collectors would take your money "in the name of the king." Your business would be controlled and regulated "in the name of the king." And if you were convicted of a crime, you would be sentenced to punishment "in the name of the king."

Well, our American forefathers decided, for once, to ignore the name of the king -- a certain king named George III of England. Ever since then, the idea of being subject to a king is something we Americans never have to think of. -Or is it? For us Christians at least, this day, Palm Sunday, is a reminder that we do indeed have a King. Jesus Christ is His name, and that is one name that carries with it tremendous power - power that affects your daily life, power that's available for you to use! If you haven't thought about that for a while, then pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you in the Eighth Psalm. In the words of our theme --

There is POWER in the Name of the King!

I. The most powerful name of all.
II. The name that gives power to the powerless.
III. The name that overpowers every foe.

King David begins and ends his Eighth Psalm with the same words: O LORD our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth! What is it that's so majestic about the name of the Lord? He certainly can't be talking about the simple word "Lord" - you hear people abusing that name on the street every day.

We Lutherans, especially, make much of the "name of God," don't we? We began our service this morning "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Every time we baptize, marry or bury someone, we invoke the name of the God. Every sermon you hear from this pulpit is begun and ended in Jesus' name. Why do we do that? What's the big deal about the "name of God," anyway?

We discussed this briefly a couple of weeks ago. To begin with, "God's name" implies much more than simply the proper nouns "God," "Jehovah," "Lord," "Redeemer," etc. Just like the "name of the king" in 17th century England stood for a lot more than just the words "king," or "Richard II" - it stood for all the authority and power, the threat and promise, the protection and the punishment that went along with those words. Likewise, the "name of God" includes everything He has made known to us about Himself in His Word.

There is tremendous power in the name of our Lord, because His is the most powerful name of all. The Psalmist says it is majestic and glorious, higher than the heavens, dwarfing every power that exists on earth. So you see now how significant it was, that first Palm Sunday, when all the people shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." It was powerful praise - they were hailing Jesus as the promised Messiah. They were, in effect, identifying Jesus with the Almighty God! No wonder the chief priests and scribes were upset! They were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, ' Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?" -- Mat 21:15-16.

Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament; in fact, He was quoting verse two of our text. On Palm Sunday, that Scripture was fulfilled. The mouths of Jesus' enemies - these hypocrites who had been plotting His death! - had been stopped. And who did it? Who finally shut the mouths of Jesus' harping critics? Was it some brilliant orator? Some tremendous speechmaker with all the tricks of rhetoric on his side? No. Little children did it! That day, infants and toddlers defeated Jesus' enemies, when their voices rang out in perfect praise to the King of all creation: Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

You see, the name of our King is the name that gives power to the powerless. Without the name of Jesus, even the "mighty" of this world are powerless. With the name of Jesus, even the powerless - even little children! - become mighty in the Lord. Like a lot of God's other blessings, this doesn't seem to make sense. It didn't seem logical to King David, either. When David thought about the majesty of God, he couldn't figure out why God even bothered with human beings! David said, When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

If you think about it, mankind is a pretty small part of God's creation, isn't it? A number of years ago, National Geographic put out a poster that was supposed to be a map of the known universe. It attempted to put the distances in the universe into perspective. The earth is a tiny speck in our solar system. Our solar system is a very tiny speck in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Well, it turns out the Milky Way is only a small part of a vast cluster of galaxies which, itself, is really just a tiny dot in the middle of the universe filled with similar clusters of galaxies. I remember standing in front of that poster with my mouth open. It sure does make a person feel small! And David tells us that all these innumerable stars were created and set in order by the merest brush of God's fingers. Can you doubt that there is power in the name of the King? What is a human being compared to that? Why in the world would Almighty God even notice us, much less care for us?

But the fact is that, from the beginning of creation, God has taken very special notice of us human beings. Those who teach the theory of evolution want us to believe that humans are just another kind of animal species, first cousins to the chimpanzees. But Scripture tells us differently. Adam and Eve were the crowning achievement of God's creation. Unlike the rest of His creatures, God made Adam and Eve in His own image, with the righteousness and holiness of the Lord Himself. He gave them great power! David says: You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen- Even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.

Man was given great power - power in the name of the Lord. But Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation of the devil; they forsook the name of God and the righteousness of God. And ever since then, that sinful nature - that innate rebelliousness and wickedness - has been passed down from generation to generation. Mankind changed - for the worse! But God didn't change. In His mercy, God made a way for us to regain the power of His name.

That's the mystery of our Savior's love, and the wonder of Palm Sunday. Behold! Jesus Christ, eternal God and King of Creation - the very One who set all those stars and planets in their places - rides meekly into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. The hand which holds that donkey's halter is the hand which formed the universe! He offers His own body on the cross as the sacrifice to take away our sins. He gives us His perfect righteousness, to take the place of our own weak, imperfect righteousness. Though we were powerless, tremendous power is now put at our disposal. The very power to grasp eternal life is given us in Jesus' name! Paul says, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty." -- 1 Cor 1:27.

Realize the great power you have in Jesus' name! Make use of it in your daily life! Jesus says, "Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do." -- John 14:13. Is there sin burdening your conscience? -In the name of our King, there is forgiveness for your sins and the mistakes of your past. Is there sorrow or pain in your life right now? -In the name of the King, there is comfort for every sorrow, relief for every pain (or strength to endure it). Perhaps you're worried about a friend, or a spouse, or a child. Maybe you're anxious about how you'll pay your bills, or how you'll be able to retire. Maybe you need healing from an illness. Perhaps you've been attracted by the vain philosophies of the world, and you feel your faith weakening. Whatever your wants or needs are, the power of the King's name puts everything within your grasp.

Why does the name of our King assure us of the victory in all of life's conflicts? Because it is a name that overcomes every foe. No matter what forces of evil stand against you in this life, Scripture promises that, in the name of Christ, nothing can defeat you!

A few minutes ago I quoted verse six of our text, You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, and I said that this applies to mankind in general. But this verse is a double prophesy - it also applies in a special way to Jesus Christ. Three days after Jesus finished His work of redemption on the cross, He rose again in triumph. Since then, He reigns with glory and honor at the right hand of God in heaven. As Paul says, "He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death." -- I Cor 15:25-26. I don't want to jump the gun, because of course our biggest celebration of Jesus' victory is still a week away. But the Easter victory is really something that is ours the whole year round. In the name of our King, eternal death has been defeated, and eternal life is waiting for everyone who wants it. It doesn't matter who you are - all you have to do is use that name! Paul says, "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For 'whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'" --Rom 10:12-13.

Won't you call upon the name of the Lord? Won't you lay your palms, too, at the feet of the eternal King? Won't you join the children of Jerusalem - and the children of this congregation -- and hail Jesus as the Messiah, your Savior and the Lord of your life? Bring your sins, large and small, to the King, for He has promised you pardon. Put your trust in the name of the King - you won't be disappointed! Scripture says, "Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." Your Lord Jesus will safely guide you from childhood, through life, even unto old age. And when the day comes for you to depart this life, that day will hold no fear for you. For that is the day on which you will hear the blessed voice of your King saying to you, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" - Mt. 25:34.

William Shakespeare didn't think much of names. In act two of Romeo and Juliet, the poet writes, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet." He may be right about roses, and people too, for that matter. Names in themselves usually aren't all that important. But for us Christians there's one exception: the name of Jesus Christ, our King. There's a lot to that name! It's the most powerful name of all. It's a name that gives power to the powerless. And it's the name that overpowers every foe! AMEN.