Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — Drawing Near to Give Himself

Advent I
Sermon Text: Matthew 21:1-11

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. Matthew’s gospel account the 21st chapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

A       Drawing Near to Jerusalem

Steadfast Sermons GraphicThis morning the Savior draws near, near to Jerusalem on a colt, and near to you in His Word.  He draws near in order to give Himself – on a cross then and in, with, and under bread and wine today.  His giving is one of grace.  You don’t deserve it.  You have no right to it.  You haven’t earned it.  He gives Himself because He loves you and doesn’t want you to suffer hell in your sins.

Thus this morning we hear of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  He’s giving Himself. Unlike the kings of old, Jesus’ entry comes without violence.  He’s no Caesar.  He brings no battalions, no standards, no army.  And He’s no Mohammed.  He rides no steed and swings no sword.  He approaches in humility, meek and lowly on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  And He’s no politician.  He makes no false promises.  He offers no exchange of bread and fish for power and submission.  He’s come to give Himself as a ransom for many and thus establish His kingdom in the hearts of men.  He’s very different from the kings of this world, who take life, abuse women and children in order to rule the world.   He comes to Jerusalem to give Himself for you.  Will you have Him?

B       Grabbing our Garments

The world then is little changed from the world now.  Jesus came unto His own but His own did not receive Him.  Carnal man loves power and despises humility.  Power wins.  Power takes. Power gets things done, gets things from others, gets things for self.

Adam was the first.  He exalted himself above God and took what wasn’t his to take.  Seeing that the fruit was a delight to the eyes and was able to make one wise He and Eve took, seized, grasped equality with God in the eating of the fruit.  Power took it, got it, and consumed it.  That’s the power of the world, our sinful nature, and the devil.  Power takes and power consumes.

Yes, beloved, the world is little changed since Adam’s departure from Eden.  We’re constantly taking and consuming.  And we’ll vote for, follow after, even worship anyone who allows us to continue doing the same.  We want the kind of king and savior and god who keep us satisfied. That’s why so many lined the streets to Jerusalem that first palm Sunday. They knew they were welcoming a king.  But they thought he was coming as a Solomon sort of king.  They thought He was coming as a powerful king, you know one who takes instead of one who gives.  And that’s why so many line the sidewalks this time of year.  We’re paying homage to our kind of king, savior and god, the kind who gives us things, feeds us to the full, and indulges our passions, the kind who lets us take and plunder and pillage not violently with swords or guns, but in a more civilized manner with gold and silver and plastic.  What the kings of old took by force we buy.  Power accumulates.  The more we accumulate the more power we believe we have.  But such power is a perversion and it is sin.  It’s not in the accumulation of persons, palaces, or possessions that shows one to be powerful. One’s power is not displayed in the taking and consuming of things but rather in giving and surrendering.

C       The kind of King we need

Therefore Jesus enters Jerusalem not as the kind of King, Savior or God we would like but as the kind we need.  He enters not to take but to give, not to conquer but to surrender, not to win but to lose.  Jesus approaches Jerusalem as the King who has come to give Himself as a ransom for many, to be the propitiation for our sins and suffer the consequence of our sins.  He doesn’t enter as a lion, raging against the people He’s come to rule, No!  He’s come as a Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who bears upon His shoulders the weight of my selfishness, the burden of my guilt, and to put them to death in His flesh on the cross.

The Jesus we need is the one who dies and rises again.  The Jesus you need is the one who offers Himself, gives Himself, and surrenders Himself on your behalf.  He’s not come to take but to give.  For, “He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.  But He emptied Himself, being found as a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  His giving knows no bounds as He gives Himself into death for you and me and for the whole world. Giving Himself into death He gives everything our salvation.

B’      Garment of Salvation on US

His giving doesn’t end with the giving of Himself so long ago but He continues His giving as He clothes His children with the garment of salvation.   Though the crowds tossed their garments for Him to trample over, though we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean, that our fig leaves aren’t good enough, that the pious veneers we hide behind fail in every respect, Jesus doesn’t leave us in our shame.  Giving Himself then so long ago, He now gives Himself in the waters of baptism.  The baptized are clothed with Jesus. The baptized are united with Jesus’ death and His resurrection.  These gifts are real and sure and certain, as sure and certain as Jesus is risen from the dead.  And these gifts save us.  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Tit 3:5-7 ESV).    With God there is no taking, grasping, or seizing, on His giving and your receiving.  That’s the way things have always worked with Him.  That’s the way it was supposed to be with Adam.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be with you.  God gives.  You receive.  Salvation is by grace.  Faith gets the gifts.

And getting the gifts, receiving the Lord in Word and Sacrament changes things, changes us.  We shouldn’t be chasing after those who teach us to take and consume.  We shouldn’t be lending our ears to those who lure us with ads promising the “good life.”  We shouldn’t be supporting, donating towards or voting for anyone offering us medicine in exchange for our submission.  To do so would be to return to our idols and forsake the God who gives Himself to us and for us.  And if we’re chasing after, listening to or voting for those who would be kings in this world, then we who are royal priests in the kingdom of God should be doing as our King does for us.  He gives Himself to us and for us.  We then ought to do the same to and for our neighbor.  He loves us.  We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. He forgives us we ought to forgive our neighbors.  He feeds us.  We ought to share our bread, surrender our coin, and offer our heart.  This Jesus has done for each and every one us here this morning and this He would have you – who bear His Name before the World – do the same that others may receive your good works and offer our Father in heaven thanksgiving and praise.

A       He Comes for You right Here

Beloved in the Lord, this is not an easy thing to do.  This receiving from God and giving to our neighbor is contrary to our flesh.  It goes against our understanding of how the world works. It goes against our heart’s desire.  Yes, but this is the Way of our God as He enters our world and offers Himself to us and for us.  He knows our weaknesses.  He knows our temptations.  And He does not leave us without divine assistance.  He gives us His Spirit when we hear the Word and believe.  He covers over our sins and our shame splashing His Name upon us in our baptism.  And He comes to us – not once, not twice, not four times a year – but as often as we gather around this altar to feast on His body and His blood.  He comes to us in humility.  In meekness He cloaks His body with bread.  Lowly, His blood is hidden in the wine. He is there as sure and certain as His Words declare. And He is there for you, to forgive you, strengthen you and embolden you to serve Him in His kingdom in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.  Will you have Him? Will you follow Him?  Will you worship Him and Him alone?  Know this; there is no king like Jesus.  Hosanna to our coming King.  AMEN!

 

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus.  AMEN!


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