Advent 1 2018

Matthew 21:1-9

The Royal King Comes

December 2, 2018

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

One Sunday, a long time ago, the whole city of Jerusalem was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” Many had heard the stories. Many had seen the signs and miracles. Some believed. Some refused. A crowd was gathered around to see this miracle worker, this man who stirred up such anger among the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who spent time with sinners. And the response to the question was, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matt 21:10-11). Who is this? That is the question we are going to be exploring in more depth throughout our Advent season. What child is this?  Who is this that was born of the virgin, laid in a manger? We recount the story each and every year and yet this question, and more importantly, the answer is still just as important and relevant today as ever.

Who is this? The Creed helps answer this for us: He is the Lord, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father by who all things were made, who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.”  This is God in the flesh. This is the Messiah, God’s anointed servant and the true King.

Jesus Christ is the Church’s King.  He rules with grace and with justice. Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, took our sins upon Himself, died for us on the cross, and bought us with His blood. Jesus Christ is our King. We hear today in the Gospel reading, “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.”

Matthew declares that Jesus’ manner of entering Jerusalem fulfills the Scripture in Zechariah 9. Zechariah had prophesied against the nations threatening the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem from their time in Babylon. In doing so, Zechariah speaks of how God would encamp around His city and save her (Zech 9:8). His King would enter the city in peace and war would be far removed from Israel and peace would extend to all the nations. Matthew then, in no uncertain terms, lays out that this Jesus is the King, is Zion’s King, who comes to her in peace, riding upon a donkey.

This is Jerusalem’s rightful King who is drawing near. The donkey is not an animal that a king would choose if he were wishing to emphasize his power. This King rides on a donkey, not on a war horse or chariot. This King is lowly, humble. This King openly enters the city for all to see and for all to believe, if only they will. This King does not come to conquer men. This King comes to conquer death by His death. This King comes to reign by self-sacrifice and to give His life as a ransom for many. Those who wish to reign with Him are called to set aside claims of glory and to follow in His way as He enters the city that would reject and kill Him.

In a world that tried to redefine Christmas as a day about decorations, family, and a time to give and receive presents it misses the point because it misses the answer to the question, “Who is this?” But you, you know the answer. And you have been called not to follow the world and its redefinitions or wandering ways, but to follow the King.

Jesus is the Lord of the church and He rules in the hearts of His people and only those whose hearts He rules belongs to His people. And you are His and He is yours. You are baptized into Christ, the victorious King. You hear His voice proclaimed in the Word of God. You live and breathe in His saving grace and love. You eat His body and drink His blood. With faith you cry out on the Lord’s Day, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Welcome the King as He comes by means of His Word and Sacrament.  Don’t let the devil, the skeptical crowds of the world, the questions of your heart let you believe anything else or anything different that the Good News of Christ crucified and risen for you.  

Today we begin a new church year. But there is nothing new. We hear the same Scripture, are accused by the same Law, forgiven by the same Gospel, worship with the same liturgy, sing the same hymns, guided by the same Spirit, in communion with the same saints, part of the same Church, with the same faith and hope in Jesus. “Who is this?” We answer the hymn proclaims so boldly, “This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing. Haste, haste, to bring Him laud, The Babe, the Son of Mary.