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Advent 1 – Matthew 21:1-9

by pastorjuhl ~ January 28th, 2014

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

            The prophet Zechariah proclaims, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. These are strange sounding words to us who walk in the valley of the shadow of death. No man of the world has true joy. The same could be said for Christians as well. We say with Jacob, few and evil is the time of my life. God does not promise us a rose garden in this life. Sin’s dread works abound.

As the Lord moved toward Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world, things looked mighty grim. Judah had lost the scepter. The temple was a den of thieves. God’s holy Law was distorted. The Promise of Messiah was obscured. Yet the invitation of the prophet remains, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Zechariah’s invitation is still true today as we consider the joyful Advent message: Behold, your king is humbly coming to you.

This Advent message was a new preaching. Until now there was Law: the preaching of sin, death, and hell. In the New Testament comes a new preaching, a preaching of grace and salvation. As we will hear in a couple of weeks, God willing, this new preaching is present even in the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah proclaims, Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

Behold says Zechariah. Wake up! Pay attention! Why? Because your king is coming. He alone shall reign among you. Christ alone is your king, not Moses with his law. Sin, death, and the devil are not your master. Let none but Christ your Master be. All tyrants who have long plagued you lie at your feet, for Jesus is your king. Jesus alone is chosen, promised, and sent by God to you. He has purchased and won you. Heaven, earth, and all creatures cry out that Jesus is your king.

Your king is coming to you. There is no way you are able to come to Him. He seeks you. He finds you. When you seek Him, He has already found you, for preachers who proclaim His salvation to you come from Him. The Gospel is His Word. From His Word come His Spirit, faith, and all things necessary for salvation. You do nothing but receive what He gives. Your so-called “free will”, your natural “behavior”, your so-called “decision”, your non-reluctance, all these things do not draw the king to you. The king comes to you.

The king comes humbly. Jesus comes to you not to ask what you have done for Him lately. He does not come as He did in the Flood or on Mount Sinai. He comes not in smoke, lightning, thunder, or pillars of cloud and fire. The king comes in all gentleness and goodness. Jesus comes to win your heart. He saves you from your enemies. He will make you free, rich, happy, and glorious. But this doesn’t mean you should watch your bank account double overnight or that you can expect an Alfa-Romeo sports car in your driveway when you go home from Divine Service. What you can expect from Jesus is more of His righteousness and salvation. This is the Advent message that is full of joy: The king comes to you.

This message does you no good if you do not hear it. The cries of the Gospel do not fade away into the ether. They resound on the edict of the king among all people, nations, and tongues. The Gospel does not saturate through your pores or climb directly into your brain. The Gospel is heard…and it is not heard in vain. The Good News of the king opens the eyes, ears, and hearts of mankind. Yes, many will gnash their teeth and harden their hearts because of the Gospel. But the Word shall not return to Him empty. The Word shall accomplish that which He purposes, and shall succeed in the thing for which He sent it.

Jesus is your King. He offers and gives His salvation and you receive it and make it your own. Even this taking of the gift is not your own doing. The King puts it there and you can’t help but take it. When someone gives you a gift, you don’t ask them to apply the gift to you in some other way than putting it into your outstretched hands. Jesus moves into hearts with the Gospel and imparts His kingly estates and gifts. He declares you an heir of His inheritance. You eat His Body and drink His Blood, His testament of salvation for you. You are baptized into His death and resurrection. Whatever He says and does is yours because He said so. He signs your inheritance in His blood that cleanses you from all sin.

It’s a shame other Christians have to obscure the pure words of Holy Scripture by adding “free will” or “choice” to this message of joy. Even amid the weeds of false preaching the pure Gospel shines forth. Where this Word is rightly heard, human glory falls into the dust, but God’s power and glory is recognized and praised. Jesus has come according to the flesh and brings eternal life. He comes today in His Gifts: Baptism, Absolution, Gospel preaching, and His Supper, to bring you the sweet message of the heavenly kingdom full of grace, comfort, and life. He will come again to raise you from the dead, change your lowly body into a glorious body, and bring you into eternal life in the new heavens and new earth with Him.

This is a cause for celebration. So rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Even so, Lord Jesus, come among us this new church year!

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

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