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Advent 1 – Matthew 21:1-9

by pastorjuhl ~ November 23rd, 2011

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            Jesus did not sneak into Jerusalem under the cover of darkness and asked to be hung on a cross. He had to enter Jerusalem first. All the activities of Holy Week had to happen first. His arrest and trial came before His punishment. There were all sorts of preparations that had to be made for the Last Supper as well as Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Today’s Holy Gospel shows how Jesus keeps His advent of grace not only then, but also now in this new church year. Today He declares His Advent and proclaims what you may provide to Him as He makes His Advent among you.

As Christ entered Jerusalem to suffer pain and scorn, to die for your sin, and rise from the dead triumphant, He also enters among His children to bestow the benefits of His advent according to the flesh. There is no other beginning than that your king comes to you and begins to work in you (Luther). You have no desire and no power by nature to come to Christ. You confess this every week when you confess your sins before God and one another. So He must come to you just as He came according to the flesh in Bethlehem as well as how He came into Jerusalem that great and holy week.

His coming among you remains as it was then: lowly, and humble. His Church has the Word of God as her weapon against Satan. The world has no thanks for something as insignificant as a word. Christians recognize the Word spoken by their Lord Jesus as more precious than gold or silver. Earthly stuff cannot save you. Only the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, proclaimed to you through the Word through servants as intermediaries of the Word made flesh, cleanses you from all sin. When the Word of Christ makes His advent among you every Lord’s Day, what it declares is what happens. You live, though you die. You are forgiven, though you sin. You are a saint, a holy one of God, though you are also a sinner.

Saint Paul tells the church in Corinth: the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Those who are sent to preach the folly of the cross are despised before the world. Those who hear the folly of the cross and believe that it is the power of God are also mocked as fools. Those who preach the Word and those who hear the Word suffer with Christ as He suffered. They bear in their bodies the marks of the crucified. Baptized children of God bear the sign of the Holy Cross on their forehead and on their heart to mark them as ones redeemed by Christ the crucified. Yet with Saint Paul they declare I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

What the world, and even Satan, will never understand is how the Word humbly comes. The Gospel is not a Word of condemnation, but of help. The prophet Zechariah says the King is righteous and having salvation. The King comes among His people to destroy the power of death and set free the prisoners of sin and hell. You can’t separate Advent and Christmas from Lent and Easter. In the shadow of the cross and empty tomb stand John the Baptist’s preaching of repentance, preparing the way of the Lord, and the manger, where Mary laid the Child Jesus Who is the Father’s eternal Christmas present to the world.

The chief priests and scribes are indignant when Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem. The same voices who cry out Hosanna! will soon cry out Let Him be crucified! If you listen carefully to those voices, you are able to hear your own voice among others. Your sin sends Jesus to the cross. Your lust to be God, or to be better than God, joins the lust of those priests and scribes who tremble at losing temporal power. Jesus demands nothing except trust in Him as Savior of the nations, even in His hour of need.

When you receive Him in faith, when you heed the Father’s voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him, you bestow upon Christ all glory in gratitude for receiving salvation. That is what it means to cry out Hosanna! You are crying out to Christ for salvation. Save me now, Lord! Save me from eternal condemnation! Save me from the accusation of a guilty conscience! Jesus Christ hears your cry for salvation and does His Father’s bidding. He saves you. Christ’s innocent suffering and death on your behalf brings a clean conscience before God and the world. Your sins are forgiven. Satan’s accusations are wasted hot air. By faith you are saved, because of God’s merciful grace in His Son Jesus.

Nothing pleases your heavenly Father more than hearing His Word and gladly keeping it. This is the best way to have a happy and holy Advent. The Church doesn’t like to rush things. She takes her time because her future is Christ’s future. Christ’s future for His Bride is that she waits for His final Advent, when He will make all things new.

So don’t feel guilty for rushing Christmas a little bit. However, don’t forget to take the time amid the busy schedules that December brings to remember why Jesus comes according to the flesh. Take the time to recall why the little children sing Hosanna! in the streets of Jerusalem as the Savior passes by on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Remember that Jesus comes among you today in His Means of Grace and will come again to bring a new heaven and a new earth, raising the dead in Christ and giving them life. As King David sings in Psalm 25, none who wait for you shall be put to shame. The waiting game is worth it, for at the end of waiting comes joy.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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