Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 19th (Luke 19:28-40) chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Our God, the true and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, does not leave His creatures in their sin. He moves. He goes after. He chases down. He finds, He speaks and He saves. He moved in the garden seeking our first parents in the bushes. He went down into Egypt delivering Israel from Pharaoh’s shackles. He chased them to Babylon and did not forsake them forever. He sent prophets prophesying, miracle workers working miracles. And He gave a child to a virgin in Nazareth. Our God moves and He speaks and He acts and He finds and He saves and He leads. For everything He says and everything He does leads His beloved people from the wilderness outside of Eden to a manger in Bethlehem. All history leads up to and flows from that lone manger in Bethlehem!
But Bethlehem is not the end of the Journey. Too many make it to Bethlehem and stop following and they stop listening. But Bethlehem is not the end of our Journey because it’s not the end of our God’s journey. If all nations are to be blessed through the seed of Abraham, the seed must be planted in the earth, sprout forth and bear fruit. God must move once more.
Therefore, Jesus moves from Bethlehem and makes His way towards Jerusalem. Jerusalem – the city that stones the prophets and kills those sent to her – Jerusalem, Jerusalem the site of the Lord’s great wonders, where the Word is silenced and death finally meets its match. Jesus is moving towards Jerusalem. But does anyone today give notice? Does anyone today even care? Do you?
We live in a society that is drunk with trivialities. How else could you explain the banal content of today’s television shows? We have more to watch and less to talk about. In fact we talk much less and prefer to text. OMG. LOL. Etc. We have facts but no context and thus we have no meaning. Facts without context are meaningless, they serve no purpose, they accomplish nothing. But we don’t care because we’re distracted, we’re entertained, we’re amused.
What is our culture all about this time of year? Is it Christmas? Is it preparation for the coming of the Messiah? Does it have anything to do with the eternal destination of humanity? No! We are distracted by sales. We are wooed by silly songs about reindeer. We are fed sugary sweet delights through the ear and the eye and we have become theologically diabetic. We reminisce about days gone by. We long for what once was but we don’t even really know what once was. Thankfully we have Hallmark Specials to inform us. We are spoon fed “chicken soup for the soul” but even these nice stories lack any depth and serve only to touch the heart of an overly emotional people. Warm fuzzies are what we love and warm fuzzies what we desire. Easy days resting in the Lay-Z-Boy are what we covet. Vain trips to shops and markets fill our days as we prepare for the single most sugary sweet day, the warm fuzziest event, the most spiritually detached holiday of the year. Most people today don’t even get to Bethlehem anymore because they simply can’t get past the North Pole, or Wal-mart! And even we Christians don’t care that much because we’re too distracted ourselves.
Our distractions keep us from both our God who goes from Bethlehem to Jerusalem and from our neighbor who struggles to go anywhere beyond Meijers. Thus we don’t fix our attention on God’s Word and we don’t look to help and serve our neighbor. We’re too busy making memories for ourselves. For most, God and our neighbors are simply in the way of a good, heartfelt holida. And so we forget the important things. We forget that our God is moving after us to save us from such silly, trivial, banal things. He moves. He moves from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to save us from the desires of our hearts, because our hearts aren’t right. When we actually listen to God’s Word it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. We need a new heart. Forget about OMG and LOL. How about SOS? We need help. We need to repent. We need what happens in our text and in Jerusalem. We need Jesus to move us from the doldrums of our distractions and trivialities to the depths of His love and the source of His salvation.
Jesus moves towards Jerusalem. He moves slowly. He takes His time. He’s in no hurry. He’s not moving camping out from Black Friday. He’s riding towards Good Friday. Good Friday in Jerusalem gives the manger in Bethlehem a context. Good Friday interprets Christmas. And Christmas in turn interprets Good Friday. The man on the donkey is the same one born of a Virgin.
In Jesus, God has moved from heaven to earth and become flesh. His chasing us has taken on a whole new dimension. He has drawn near to humanity unlike any other. He has become like us, though without sin. Jesus, truly God, fully God, totally and completely God, has become flesh.
Abraham’s God is Abraham’s seed. And He moves towards Jerusalem on a donkey. He moves for you. He goes for you, because the meaning of life is greater than what can be written on a bumper sticker. It requires more than just a text message, because the story of your salvation is deeper than any Hallmark Holiday Special. The depth of the riches and wisdom and power of His love moves Him to become flesh and blood, to draw near humanity and thus to approach Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem Jesus dies as the Lamb of God who takes away the Sins of the World. Your sins are seriously problematic for you and for GOD because He loves you. Your death doesn’t have to be eternal. Your life has meaning and purpose only in light of Jesus’ work for you on the cross and in the grave. If you were meant just to live and move and get what you want, be happy on earth and then die, then there’s no reason for the season. The events in Bethlehem 2000 years ago are pointless. Jesus’ moving to the cross in Jerusalem means nothing! But because Jesus goes to the cross, because He suffers and dies and rises again, His death and resurrection gives context and thus also meaning to the manger, to Bethlehem, to life, and not just life in general but your life today. Jesus does this for you that your sins are atoned for, that your death is destroyed, your grave is hallowed, and your resurrection is made certain. In Jerusalem what once was promised is now fulfilled in the flesh for you.
But you won’t hear about this on the news. There is no reality TV show depicting the life and times of Mary and Joseph, Jesus or Pilate. There is no History Channel special. There will be no text messages from the North Pole. Silly songs will inevitably ignore the reason for the season. Good food won’t remind you of the heavenly food set for you this morning and every Lord’s Day. No, beloved, what you see and what you feel will not move you from the distractions of this world to Eden’s delight. They not only won’t do it but they can’t do it. For what is seen is nowhere near as mighty and powerful as what is heard. They eyes are not the organ of faith. It is the ears. The Word of God arouses the heart through the ears! Faith comes by hearing and hearing the message of Christ! And if you would be saved from this wicked, perverse, trivial and vain generation you must be hearing the Word!
Listen as the Word calls you to attention.
Listen as the Word tells of Christ, His Words and His Works, His promises and His passion!
Listen beloved and give heed to what is said. Your God pursues your heart through the preaching of His Word.
Believe the Gospel.
Be Baptized if you are not. Remember your baptism and receive absolution and the supper! The Lord has gifts for you! He wishes to draw even closer to you. He became flesh for you to give His flesh into death for you and to rise for you. We know this only because of the Word of God. We know this because it is written and it is preached. And His Word does not return void but changes hearts, forgives sinners of their sins, and grants a peace beyond all human understanding. The might and power of the Word does all this. The might and power of the Word reigns over all the shallow noise of the world. The Word that is heard here is more powerful than the world’s scripted utopian visions displayed everywhere else!
Beloved in the Lord, our God, the true and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob moves from Bethlehem to Jerusalem that we might move from the dominion of sin, death and devil and into the marvelous light of His salvation. Jesus goes to Jerusalem to die and to rise again. His Word and His Work give context and thus also meaning to Bethlehem’s miracle. Thus, this Advent season, we make our way with Him back to Bethlehem and on Christmas morn we hear a good and glorious word for us. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people earth.” This word in Bethlehem, this Word echoed in Jerusalem is a word for you, for us and for all! This Word gives context and meaning to us, to our lives and to our world. God has come near to us. He would come near to your neighbor as well. For Jesus is still moving, going after, chasing finding, speaking and saving. If you doubt this just give a listen! AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!