Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sermon: Ad Te Levavi (Advent 1) – 2011

27 November 2011 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: Matt 21:1-9 (Jer 23:5-8, Rom 13:8-14)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord.”

Whenever a prophet says “Behold,” we can do one of two things: either we listen to the prophet, or we can listen to other voices. We are always listening to something, dear friends. We are either resonating with the Word of God, or our ears are being tickled by the noise of this world.

“The days are coming.” Some people didn’t believe Jeremiah when he spoke these words 26 centuries ago, they didn’t believe them 20 centuries ago when their fulfillment began with the coming of our Lord, and many do not believe them today as we wait for the completion of the fulfillment when our Lord returns.

Nevertheless, dear friends, the Lord speaks, and we do well to listen to that ever-faithful Word. “The days are coming when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as king.”

And even though the people did not fully grasp what kind of a King they had in Jesus, they received Him the same way they had received his ancestor King Solomon – “humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” Solomon was to become a king great in might and power and wisdom – and yet rode into the city of his father David on a humble donkey. For Solomon’s greatness lay within himself as opposed to within the trappings of the external riches which he enjoyed.

So too, King Jesus, also a Son of David, a Son of Solomon, the very Son of God, rides into David’s Royal City on a donkey. And this King is great in might and power and wisdom – exponentially greater than His grandfather Solomon, for this King’s Father is God, and this King is God!

God riding on “the foal of a beast of burden.” God becoming a humble man to die for sinful men. God riding triumphant into Jerusalem to the cheers of Hosanna merely a week before being condemned to the jeers of “crucify Him!” And yet, in spite of their later treachery against the Lord, on the day of the advent of their King, they cried out: “Hosanna!” – which is to say that this King is also their Savior. They are right to cry out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” For this King is to be blessed by those whom He has blessed, for He bears the blessed name of the Lord – the name that is above every name, the name by which we are saved, the name into which we are baptized, the name through which we have eternal life – the name that is to be spoken with reverence and worship and yet with joy and jubilation! All hail King Jesus!

This King has come to save His people through the cross, though they would refuse to save Him from the cross. This King has come to die upon the cross for all people whose sins have placed Him on the cross. This King has come to forgive the sins and bring to life of all of us who put the One without sin to death. This King has come to conquer – not in warfare to lord over and enslave people, but rather in peace to live and die in perfect humility in order to liberate humanity.

Indeed, this is a King greater than David and greater than Solomon. This is a King like none other, and His Bride the Church continues to receive Him with royal pomp and circumstance, with thanks and praise, with reverence and awe. And, dear friends, we wait for His return.

And yet, even in our waiting for Him to return, He abides with us in the great mystery of His Word and His sacraments. For this King’s Word is not just Law, but reality. This King’s Word is not merely a command for His subjects, but life for His beloved people. This King’s Word is a Word of forgiveness, life, and salvation. This King’s Word draws us into His kingdom as fellow heirs and rulers with Him in the promise of a new heaven and a new earth!

And so we wait, dear friends, we wait in anticipation and joy, in praise and in glory. We continually sing “Hosanna” to our Savior King week in and week out when we gather around the same flesh and blood as those who “cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” We too are filled with joy to hear the royal announcement: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” as we hail Him at our altar and receive Him into our very bodies. We too can hardly contain our excitement as He draws near to us.

The anticipation of Christmas – especially from the point of view of the Lord’s beloved little ones – is a flicker of the kind of joyful expectation we should have for the return of our Lord. For no matter how tired and overwhelmed we are, no matter our pain and depression and loneliness, no matter how burdened we are by sin, death, and the devil – we join the pilgrim throng on the streets of Jerusalem and throughout the world singing “Hosanna” and cheering the ever-nearer approach of our Lord and King. Each year we are a year closer to His return and His re-creation of our bodies, our world, and our universe as they were meant to be before creation was trodden down and corrupted by sin.

This is why St. Paul’s warning is a fresh today as it ever was: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” We do not wait in gloom and sorrow, but in joy and hope. This, dear friends, is what empowers us to “walk properly” and to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

The Lord is just around the corner, and He is calling us, dear brothers and sisters, calling us to follow Him, to wait for Him, to be healed by Him, to be made anew in forgiveness and life – awaiting the return of Paradise in a glorious new heaven and earth that has no end.

This is the Advent, the coming of the Lord, foretold by the prophets of old, played out in the coming of our Lord into Jerusalem, and yet to be fulfilled in the return of our Lord in His triumphant return!

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord.”


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

No comments: