“Their Lord need them”
First Sunday in Advent 2017
Pr Ryan D. Wendt
Christ the King Lutheran Church, Billings, Montana
(Hear sermons by Pr Wendt here)
And there was evening and there was morning, another day. So it has been since the beginning, so it will be until the Lord returns and there are no more days. Each new day brings a new beginning and a new hope for the Lord’s return; each night brings needed rest and surrender.
Each week begins with the Lord’s Day and in His house where we wait with anticipation for His 8th Day, the Day that never ends, the Day of His return and our entrance into eternity. But as our Saturday rest comes to an end and the sun rises on another Sunday, the 8th day doesn’t come, only a new 1st day, a new week. So we must begin again and living in anticipation and hope knowing what our eternal future holds.
We have come to end of another church year and it is the same story, we waited with anticipation and hope but the end did not come so we as with each day and each new week, we start again knowing that the Lord is faithful, that He is not slow in keeping His promises as some believe but longsuffering, patient, slow to anger and abounding in Love. He will keep His promise to return, He has not forgotten us, He will return to judge the living and the dead and take us home.
The new church year begins with the season of Advent and the text is always the same – Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey at the beginning of Holy Week. This season is not simply preparation for Christmas, it is a penitential season, a new call to repentance and faith so that we are prepared to meet the Lord when He comes in Glory. We must be reminded over and over again that God promised to send Adam and Eve a Savior from sin; that He promised devastated Israel that He would send them a mighty King to sit on David’s throne and to restore the fortunes of Jacob. And then as we hear about this humble King riding into Jerusalem to His Father’s house and to ascend the throne of His cross where He would shed His own blood for the salvation of the entire world, we see and hear and remember that God has kept His promise to redeem us. Though it took thousands of years, at just the right time God sent forth His Son into our fallen work, into our flesh, in order to save us.
As He kept His promise to redeem His fallen creation, so will He keep His promise to come again; He did not tell us how long He would be away but that He would come suddenly. Will we be more prepared than Israel? They did not recognize the time of their visitation. They did not receive Him as their King on His terms, only on theirs. The Lord wept on the road before entering Jerusalem knowing what would happen to the great city, the temple, to the people. Knowing that their rejection of Him as their Lord and King, their Savior from sin, would bring them to their end. God would choose a new people who would believe in Him.
It is not only the Lord’s first Advent, His incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension, that we consider during this season; it is not only the Lord’s last Advent, His promise to return to raise and judge the living and the dead, that will come to pass. We do remember the past, we look forward to the future, and while we wait the Lord is faithful, He is not absent, He continues to come to us in mercy and with His forgiveness, in His Word preached and His sacraments administered according to His institution. (This reality is reflected in our paraments and banners, the manger, the cross, the chalice and host, the last trumpet; the three “advents” of our King.)
The very same humble Lord who rode into Jerusalem on a beast of burden, is the Lord who will return in glory, and He is the Lord who comes to you in this place under simple means. Will you receive Him as He desires? Or are you looking for something greater, for a different kind of king? Are His simple means, His absolution, baptism, and supper sufficient for you each week, each month, each year? Or are these things too humble, too boring, not powerful enough?
The Lord says through the Psalmist: “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Ps 50:10) And yet the Lord of all Creation does not choose a mighty stallion or a great camel or an elephant to ride to His throne, He instructs His disciples to bring him a donkey. If anyone asks what they are doing they are to say, “Their Lord needs them.” He has a job for them to do. If the disciples are silent the very stones will cry out, children shout His praise, the heavens above declare the Glory of the Lord, the wind and the waves obey His command, and now these two donkeys answer their Lord’s call and do their duty in service to His kingdom. All of this to fulfil the Scripture that says, “Behold your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
The donkey was enough for the Lord of heaven and earth, simple water with His Word enough for Him to bring infants and even adults into His kingdom, simple bread and wine the humble vehicles to carry His holy body and blood to your lips. If these things are good enough for Him, shouldn’t they be enough for you? He didn’t come for earthly glory and honor or to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many, for all, for you.
His humble means are not so powerless as many think, not mere symbols as others believe, they are the power of God, the very means, of salvation for all who believe. Apart from these, apart from Him, there is no salvation.
And so, like the donkey, we simply do what our Lord has called us and commanded us to do, “baptize all nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son and for the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all things I have commanded you;” “take and eat, take and drink, this is my body, this is my blood, given for you for the forgiveness of your sins… do this often in remembrance of me;” and we keep on waiting for the 8th day, for that last baptism, the last evening and morning, for the Day of our Lord’s glorious return. We celebrate our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a humble donkey and ponder His promised triumphal return on the clouds in His majestic glory. While we wait we eat and drink, we listen and believe.
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” “Save us Son of David!” “Save us from heaven.” And He has. Your King humbled Himself and with His own blood He bought your life, redeemed you from sin and death, made you His own, and still He takes care of you.
Jesus loves you, He has not rejected you, not even when you’ve doubted His Words and His ways, not even if you have questioned His means or sought more glorious things in the past. No matter how great your sin or failure, you have a Savior who is far greater! You didn’t go out and find Him, He has come and found you. And there was evening and morning, another day filled with His mercy and love, another day of His forgiveness, another day of His blessing.
Blessed be Jesus Christ! Blessed be you and all who trust in Him! “Glory to the Father sin, Glory to the Son, our King, Glory to the Spirit be, now and through eternity.” Amen!