First Sunday in Advent - November 27, 2022
[Matthew 21:1-9] Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest!” “Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” [Romans 13:11]. “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” [1 Thessalonians 5:2]. “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” [Matthew 24:27]. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable” [1 Corinthians 15:52].
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch” [Jeremiah 23:5]. “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins… ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” [Matthew 1:21-23]. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…” [Isaiah 9:6].
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” [Luke 9:51]. “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” [Matthew 16:21]. As we sang, “Ride on, ride on, in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die” [The Lutheran Hymnal, #162]. “Hosanna!” – “Save us!”
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” – Baptize them “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 28:20,19]. “Take eat; this is My body” – “Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood…” [Mathew 26:26-28]. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” [Colossians 3:16].
“I am with you always.” He is Immanuel, “God with us.” Jesus is the Son of God the Father. And Jesus is God with God the Father, and with the Holy Spirit. Where is God? In Jesus, God has come, is always coming for you right now, and will come soon. In Advent we remember that God in Jesus is God who comes to us.
He came, born of Mary – born “Jesus”, “God who saves”. He came to Jerusalem, riding on the donkey, coming, bringing salvation, riding on into that city to die outside that city for your sins. Came and died to save. Came, arrived again, from the tomb to give life after death.
God in Jesus comes now. Where His Word is preached, there He is. He has come, breathing out His Word of Scripture to you [2 Timothy 3:16]. He has come in Baptism, washing you and sharing His name with you, making you His own. He comes, in His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.
He is coming through these Means of Grace to you now where they are preached and administered. He is coming to you constantly, doing His work within you to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” [Romans 13:12].
He is soon to come. Coming soon to take you home – on your last day on this earth – or on the last day of this earth – He is returning for you to take you to the place He has prepared for you [John 14:1-3].
But Him coming to me now means what for me? I rejoice when I’m of such a mind that answers, “He comes to forgive my sins! He comes to cleanse me from all unrighteousness!” He comes that I might “put on the Lord Jesus” [Romans 13:14]. I therefore have joy, with eager expectation, that He is coming to me here, again and again.
Yet, Him coming that I might ‘put on the Lord Jesus’ means putting off the old man, no longer gratifying the desires of the flesh [Romans 13:14]. I want to avoid that. I have an attachment to my sin. I don’t like that He comes. So, I avoid Him where He arrives. I don’t come here. Or, I come here, but then I leave here saying, “What was that all about?” “Not me!” Because I know it is about me. God’s Law is convicting my conscience.
Jesus arrives. We have eager expectation. Or, we don’t like it. We loathe His coming. Jesus arrived at Jerusalem, riding on the donkey. Riding on to die for their sins and ours. The people, with joyful expectation, shouted “Hosanna! Hosanna!” – “Save us! Save us!” – knowing joyfully that He had arrived to save.
Yet others were full of loathing, bitterness, and anger that the Lord had arrived that day. The Pharisees and chief priests and scribes had a good thing going in this world. The arrival of Jesus was in the way of the desires of their flesh.
My sinful nature does not want to be happy that Jesus has come, comes, and will come soon. Therefore, Advent – like Lent – is a bit of a season of repentance. We are reminded to live the Baptismal life we were given – the life of daily repentance – the life of daily drowning the old sinner in me that a new man may arise [Luther’s Small Catechism, Baptism, Part Four]. When I see my sin for what it is, I want the Savior to come. I want that new man to finally win out – and for that I need Jesus coming now and at the end.
And many do have a good thing going in this world. But to love this world – even the good things of this world – more than we love the coming of Jesus and His Kingdom, that is sin. Therefore, God sends us many troubles in this world so that we see its brokenness more clearly (though, really, we don’t see the half of it) – He works on our hearts to become more and more detached from this world so that we learn to love His coming.
God, in Jesus, has come to save; comes still to deliver that salvation to us, here, through Word and Sacrament; and is coming soon to give us a blessed end and the life of the world to come. Let’s not be people of this world who don’t think upon or are even averse to the thought of His coming.
Instead, let’s be the people we are – His baptized children – and let’s pray that He will shape our hearts that we would be people who are waiting with increasing joy and eager expectation for Him to come soon. “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” Amen.