Behold, thy King cometh to thee: sermon on Palm Sunday

Behold, thy King cometh to thee.” 

These are the words of the prophet Zacharias, quoted by the evangelist St Matthew, in the gospel that is used this Sunday for the blessing of palms, and that we shall hear as the last gospel. “Behold, thy King cometh to thee.” Why does our King come to us? Because we were unable to go to Him. We fell in Adam and became like the man attacked by thieves, left half-dead by the wayside. We did not have the strength left in our nature to go to Him, but He could still come to us by His grace.

“Behold, thy King cometh to thee.” When did our King come to us? At the incarnation, when He answered the prayer of the prophet: “O that thou wouldst tear the heavens and come down.” 

He did not wish to remain always “a hidden God”, and so “the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” Then again on the day that He came out of Galilee, “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan unto John, to be baptised by him.” He did not want to remain always in Nazareth, even though it would mean no longer living under the same roof as the Blessed Virgin Mary, and so He took the road to the Jordan, since He saw that the Jews were “like sheep without a shepherd”. Then, once more, on the night that He “went forth with his disciples across the brook Cedron, where there was a garden”, a garden where Judas would soon come with a band of soldiers and servants from the high priest to arrest Him. It was not fitting for Him to hide away in the Upper Room, He who had always “spoken openly to the world”, and who had received from His Father a charge to lay down His life, and to take it again.

“Behold, thy King cometh to thee.”How does our King come to us? “Meek”, says the prophet,and sitting upon an ass’s colt”. Meek, because He comes as the victim for sin, who “opened not his mouth, dumb as a lamb before his shearer”. Meek, since the wise man says, “Thou hast mercy upon all, because thou canst do all things; thou being master of power, judgest with tranquillity.” Meek, so those who sought His death might have no cloak for their malice.

“Behold, thy King cometh to thee.” Is it in the past only that these things happen? I say, no, that to each of us, the Holy Spirit says, “Behold, thy king cometh.” This short life is our Palm Sunday. We join the “very great multitude” that went before us and that will come after us. With them we must say, with our lips and our lives, “Hosanna, blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord.”