Sermon – Matthew 21.1-11 (Advent 1 – 2020)

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,

As we begin a new Church Year today, we say farewell to the previous one. This past Church year was unlike any we have experienced in our lives. We think back at the Church Year that has passed and ponder all that has taken place. We have had many joys. But we have also had our share of difficulties. COVID has added to the trials, and even compounded the already difficult things we encounter.

But yet, we can say that throughout this past Church Year, our Lord has not let us down. He has provided us with the good news of His Son in Word and Sacrament, by which He nourishes our faith, forgives our sins, gives us victory over all our enemies, and grants us eternal life.

God is faithful. It is like the early Church Father, Polycarp, who was arrested and threated with martyrdom at a ripe old age, when it was suggested to him to curse God that he may not be killed, responded by saying, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury, how then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?”

Our King and Savior has faithfully come to us and given us His heavenly gifts. Not once has He dropped you from His care, or forgotten His promises He has given to you.

The good news is that He again comes to you this year. C.F.W. Walther, the theologian called the “American Luther” said, “The chief reason why [the Palm Sunday] account was chosen as the text to begin the new church year is without doubt this, that at the beginning of the year every Christian may be comforted by the knowledge that Jesus will come again.”

Year in and year out, Christ has been coming to His Church, but will He come again this year? Isn’t He tired of coming? Isn’t He tired of being merciful and giving us His gifts to us who simply continue to sin?

He is after all, the holy Son of God? And we are sinners. We have not loved the Lord, our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Nor have we loved our neighbor as ourselves. Shouldn’t God, whom we have offended daily, now come to us without mercy but divine justice, bring us what sinners deserve?

He is after all, omniscient. He knew where the donkey and colt would be found which He would use to ride into Jerusalem to fulfill prophecy. He knew what words the disciples needed to say to the owners in order for the owners to allow them to take their donkeys.

He who knew the thoughts of those inhabitants of Bethphage afar off, knows also your thoughts. He knows your sinfulness and the multitude of your sins. He knows better than your own conscience the guilt that is yours. You have not feared, loved, and trusted in God above all things. You have rather feared, loved, and trusted created things more than God. You have trusted in yourselves. Your devotion to God, your hearing and your obedience to His Word has lacked. You have followed your sinful desires, and called that domineering sinful flesh in you, “lord.” Furthermore, you have not loved your neighbor as yourself. You have held bitterness in your hearts against others. You have spoken demeaning things to others, things that tear down and hurt, rather than build up and encourage and heal. You have acted selfishly, thinking of your own interests first and foremost, even though you get frustrated when others do the very same thing.

Oh, what blindness we have that the sins that come to mind is only the tip of the iceberg, yet it is probably for our benefit that we cannot see them all, because how could we endure if we could see the depth of our sinfulness. But the omniscient Son of God knows them all.

Surely, He cannot come again this Church Year in mercy. But yes, He does come again in mercy. See how He comes into Jerusalem, not as a Holy Judge in wrath, but as a meek King, the King of Grace and Mercy.

Even then 2000 years ago, He knew us, He knew the fallen nature of our hearts and the sins that would flow forth from them. But He doesn’t go riding into Jerusalem tallying the sins and measuring the wrath that would be right to unleash on you. Rather He goes riding into Jerusalem, to pay the price for those sins on the cross, to win your forgiveness, to blot out your sins, and to toss every last one of them into the depths of the sea.

Since He is omniscient, this same meek and merciful and gracious King also knows all the troubles that confront you. He knows the needs of your bodies and souls, He knows the cries of your heart, and knows all the dangers that confront them. He knows the scheming of your enemies who wish to destroy your souls, and He guards and keeps you, He gives His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways (Ps 91). And knowing all, He knows how to guard and protect you, to sustain you, and to turn all things for your good.

And so He comes to you. The message spoken in our text is intended for the daughters of Zion. To them are the words, “Behold, your King is coming to you.” Zion is the mountain upon which Jerusalem was built and the Temple sat at its peak. The daughter of Zion are the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Yet, Zion finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Church of Christ, and Zion’s daughters are the believers in Christ.

He is coming to you again, but by what means does He come to you, and where shall you find Him? When Christ came to Jerusalem riding on the donkey, you wouldn’t have found Him in Gaul, or in Egypt, or in Mesopotamia. He was physically entering Jerusalem. Those who dwelt any other place than Jerusalem on that day, would not have seen Him, or been able to receive Him. So also, He comes to us, yet we must find Him where He comes to us in His grace and mercy and that is in the gospel in the means of grace, that is in the Word and the Sacraments. Those who do not receive Him in the means of grace will not find Him. They will have no part in Him. For Zion, Christ’s Church, is wherever His gospel is given in Word and Sacrament.

Yet all are called to hear and believe, whether you are strong in faith, or whether your faith has grown cold, or whether your sin has gained the upper hand in your heart, or whether you simply have fallen completely away. Here is the gospel preached to you today, and you can be assured that through these Words Christ is coming to You, with meekness, as your King of Grace. Repent of your sins, and see what grace and salvation He has for you. His mercy does not wear out, but is new every morning. And so through this gospel in Word and Sacrament, He comes today and will continue to come throughout this Church Year in mercy with His saving presence, bringing with Him the forgiveness of all your sins, victory over all your enemies, and eternal life!

Receive Him with praise, and you will find, that He will not fail you. He will not forget the promises He has given you. And He will keep you as His own in His kingdom. And you will attest to this again a year from now, unless He returns first. Either way whether it is in meekness through the means of grace, or in glory on the Last Day, we will joyfully receive Him, our King of Grace, and our Savior. Amen.

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

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