Text: Matt 21:1-9
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
Today we join Christians around the world in beginning a new year. This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, the time of anticipation of our Lord’s coming. Of course, in many ways the world has already gotten a jump on us. Before Halloween (or should I say Reformation Day?), WalMart had already placed toys, trees, and treats for Christmas on its shelves. And certainly, by the time of the commercial world’s Solemn High Mass of the Day After Thanksgiving, all eyes look forward to Christmas. It is now officially okay in the eyes of the secular culture to dust off the Bing Crosby and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and to begin praying to St. Nicholas for a plasma TV.
Don’t worry, I’m really not Pastor Scrooge looking to tear down our Christmas traditions. But I do want to point out the Church’s being out of step with the world. While our culture is rapidly heading toward Christmas, we in the Christian Church are going another direction. While the secular part of us rushes, the churchly part of us lingers. While the world will soon be kicking off the season of office parties, the Church begins a time of penitence and expectation. While the secular world begins to decorate in red and green, the Church starts with royal purple [blue].
Furthermore, here at
There is a reason for the Church, in her centuries of collective wisdom, presenting us this text for this day. For to really appreciate and anticipate the glorious and mysterious birth of our Lord, we must come to grips with who he is.
So, who is this Jesus? This, dear friends, is the most important question in the history of the universe.
People all around us are eager to tell us just who Jesus is. Every year at Christmas and Easter it becomes critical for Time and Newsweek to tell us what they think about Jesus. It’s a priority for our non-believing friends to “debunk” the “myth” of Jesus. It’s also important for many people to use the name of Jesus as a curse word. Political groups are eager to enlist Jesus in their causes, whether it be animal rights or influencing what kind of car to drive. And I defy anyone to listen to a rock music station for a half hour without the name “Jesus” coming up in one context or the other.
So, what does today’s Gospel confess about Jesus that led the fathers of the church centuries ago to make this the very first Holy Gospel reading of the new Church year?
In short, it is that Jesus is the King of the Jews. Not that he is only the king over
While Jesus was making his way to his execution in
And so Zechariah’s ancient prophecy is fulfilled: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of
And notice how unusual this King is! Lowly. Humble. Riding coach instead of first class! How many
For this King had spent three years preaching what the
The people of
For unlike all other kings in history, this King is also prophet, priest, and victim. This King is truly man and truly God. This King is the only king we may indeed worship. This King is he whom we should fear, love, and trust above all things. This King has become the most lowly subject so that we might become Kings. This Prophet came to fulfill all prophecies. This Priest became the sacrifice so that we might become priests. He is the one sacrifice for all, whose death frees us from death itself.
So, dear Christians friends, let us eagerly anticipate the coming of our King, our Priest, our God, our Redeemer, confessing our sins and receiving his royal pardon. For he is truly Israel’s promised King who was to come at Bethlehem in a manger, who made his royal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, who came into his kingdom on the cross, who comes to us today in Word and Sacrament. He will also come again at the end of all time as the triumphant ruler, rescuing his people so that they might “be his own and live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead, and lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true!”
Even so, come Lord Jesus! Amen.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.