Advent 1 – 2019

Matthew 21.1-11

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You, we bless and praise You forever, that You sent Your Son to rule over us poor sinners, who for our transgressions justly deserved to remain in the bondage of sin and Satan, and that in Him You gave us a meek and righteous King, who by His death became our Savior from sin and eternal death. We beseech You so to enlighten, govern and direct us by Your Holy Spirit, that we may ever remain faithful to this righteous King and Savior, and not, after the manner of the world, be offended by His humble form and despised Word, but, firmly believing in Him, obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.

 3 “And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say,`The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

 4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,`Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.'”

 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.

 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.

 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! `Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”

 10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”

 11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

The king is coming! What is he coming to do? My family and I just finished reading the Hobbit together, so kings and kingdoms have been on our minds. The book revolves around a journey led by Thorin Oakenshield, who is a descendant of a line of kings, going to Lonely Mountain. His purpose: to reclaim for himself and his people the kingdom in the mountain and all the treasure within that had been stolen by the dragon Smaug many years earlier.

We read about kings in storybooks and also in history, and they make for interesting stories. Our Scarville Lutheran School uses “The Story of the World” for history and there they learn the stories of kings throughout the world. Some kings were benevolent. Some were cruel. And so when you heard that a king is coming, it is an important question to ask: What is he coming to do?

Kings have power and might. They have armies and riches. They are important people and they do important things.

Is he coming to wage war? Is he coming to take us into exile? Is he coming for diplomacy? Is he coming to assert his power? Is he trying to gain the favor of his people? When a king is coming, something big is likely to happen, so we should know what is the purpose of his coming.

This is the purpose of Advent. “Advent” is the Latin word for “coming”. The King, Jesus, our Lord, has come and is coming to us now, and will come again on the Last Day. We need this Advent time to consider the purpose of His coming, so that we may rightly celebrate His birth this Christmas, that we may receive Him as He comes to us today, and that we may be ready to receive Him when He comes again in glory.

So, to help us understand the purpose of the King’s coming, we consider our Gospel reading today.

Jesus is coming. The people confess he is the Son of David. He is of the royal line of David. He is also the one promised to the house of Judah as our Old Testament reading states. He is from the line of Judah. Jacob when blessing Judah, said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah” (Gen 49:10). Here Jesus is that descendant who holds that scepter and rules forever.

What is this King of David’s line coming to do? God had given David success in battle, destroying enemies that threatened Israel. Through David, God established Israel as a great and free nation. So here is David’s royal Son, is He coming back to reclaim this land that was once free under David, now under the control of the Romans? That’s what many thought at that time.

But the manner of His coming tells a different story. If He was coming to start a revolt, and free Israel from Roman control, He wasn’t coming equipped. There were no mighty steeds, no army, no flexing of worldly power. Rather He rode in a lowly manner, sitting on a donkey.

Yet, as the prophecy says, “Your King is coming to you!” He is coming to the daughter of Zion, that is to the Jewish people. He is coming to accomplish something big! The song the attending crowd sang from Psalm 118, tells us, “Hosanna” which means “save us, now!” This is good news! He’s coming to save! Were the daughters of Jerusalem ready for this king? The King is betrayed into the hands of soldiers. Will they stand by their king? The King stands trial before Pilate, but He isn’t showing the ruler who’s boss. Will the daughters of Zion confess His name? The King is crucified on the cross. Will they give allegiance to Him? The King dies. Will they continue to hope in Him? This is the way the King came. This is how He comes for the daughters of Jerusalem. This is how He comes for their salvation and the salvation of the world. Did they understand His purpose!? And how He will achieve it? The salvation He came to accomplish was salvation from the condemnation for our sins. The way this lowly prophet of Nazareth would do it was by His death-the sacrificial death for us all. As lowly and humble was the coming of this King, there is nothing greater any king of history has accomplished. He has won the world’s salvation, and established a new kingdom of peace with God, of righteousness, of grace, and of truth, and He has risen from the grave to rule this kingdom.

The Advent of His birth was to accomplish this saving work. That Advent has come and gone. But now your King comes again to you. Do you know His purpose and in what way He arrives?

Again, He comes to you to work something great! Not to make you mighty and powerful in the world. No, the manner of His coming tells a different story. He comes to you through the lowly means of His Word and through His Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Through these He comes that He may grant to you faith by which you receive the forgiveness of your sins that He won for you in His first Advent. In this way He makes you children of God, members of His eternal kingdom.

But is His coming too lowly for you? Naaman thought washing in the Jordan 7 times is too simple, the water too plain to be healed of his leprosy. He thought that healing must be a difficult undertaking, some grandiose work. Is the waters of baptism too lowly and simple of a thing to think that God would work such great things in you? But that is how He said He will work. Is the message of His cross foolishness to you? Is it an offense? Do you think that you can do better with your works? Do you think that God would be more pleased with your works that through the death and resurrection of the King of Grace, His Son?

Or is He still too scary of a King, one who will be your judge and condemn you? Surely on the Last Day He will come in judgment, but today, He comes lowly and in mercy to save you, and to be your gracious king.

The fact is, Jesus is exactly the king we need. We are poor miserable sinners disqualified to be in the presence of God, and He is the King who was crucified and is risen for sinners that we may be forgiven of our sins and be given life in His heavenly kingdom. And so we rejoice in His Advent on Palm Sunday. We look forward to the celebration of our Savior’s birth. And we receive today, by faith, our King as He comes to you in His Word of forgiveness and His Holy Supper. That is why we sing, “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

This is the answer to our petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come.” The kingdom of Christ comes to us, when the Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts, to receive our Savior King, Jesus Christ. By faith we are justified, clothed in His righteousness. By faith, He who comes to us in the Word and Sacraments, enters our hearts and rules there! Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and ot the Holy Spiirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.

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