November 27, 2011
TEXT: Isaiah 64:1-9/Psalm 80:1-7/1 Cor. 1:3-9, Mark 1:1-11
THE COMING KINGDOM
Vicar Alex Post

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Many days of preparation go into a royal ceremony. When Prince William married Kate last spring, security forces had to prepare for hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of London. Decorations were prepared; fancy clothes were fitted; flags were flown; memorabilia was manufactured; and the royal Glass Coach was refurbished to carry the royal couple.

A royal parade always draws a crowd. Sometimes the crowd responds with adoration and with songs and by waving flags or banners. But some in the crowd might be militants, hoping to make a statement. Some might be deranged, intending to indulge their obsession at a rare public appearance of their favorite celebrity. There is always a purpose behind a royal ceremony, just as there will always be a reaction from those who see it.

Jesus Christ came into the royal city Jerusalem in a sort of royal procession. A colt, especially a colt on which no one has ever sat (Mk. 11:1-2), is certainly a fitting ride for royalty. When Solomon was anointed as king over Israel, he rode his father David’s mule (1 Kings 1:32-40). It is also a sign of a royal parade when the crowds lay their garments on the road in front of the king (Mk. 11:8), just as everyone laid his garment on the steps at the coronation of King Jehu (2 Kings 9:13).

November 27, 2011
TEXT: Isaiah 64:1-9/Psalm 80:1-7/1 Cor. 1:3-9, Mark 1:1-11
THE COMING KINGDOM
Vicar Alex Post

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Many days of preparation go into a royal ceremony. When Prince William married Kate last spring, security forces had to prepare for hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of London. Decorations were prepared; fancy clothes were fitted; flags were flown; memorabilia was manufactured; and the royal Glass Coach was refurbished to carry the royal couple.

A royal parade always draws a crowd. Sometimes the crowd responds with adoration and with songs and by waving flags or banners. But some in the crowd might be militants, hoping to make a statement. Some might be deranged, intending to indulge their obsession at a rare public appearance of their favorite celebrity. There is always a purpose behind a royal ceremony, just as there will always be a reaction from those who see it.

Jesus Christ came into the royal city Jerusalem in a sort of royal procession. A colt, especially a colt on which no one has ever sat (Mk. 11:1-2), is certainly a fitting ride for royalty. When Solomon was anointed as king over Israel, he rode his father David’s mule (1 Kings 1:32-40). It is also a sign of a royal parade when the crowds lay their garments on the road in front of the king (Mk. 11:8), just as everyone laid his garment on the steps at the coronation of King Jehu (2 Kings 9:13).

But this royal procession is very different from any other in all of human history. Jesus Christ came into Jerusalem as a king, but not as the kind of king that many were expecting. Jesus’ procession down the road was an exalted one, but it was also humble. Jesus did not ride the horse of a conquering Roman general, and He did not enter in a mighty chariot with soldiers flanking Him.

Instead, Jesus came as a humble servant (Is. 52-53). Although He was descended from the house of David, the royal king who led Israel during the height of its power and glory, Jesus did not come as an earthly king. Jesus entered Jerusalem as the heavenly King, the Son of God who became a man in order to redeem all men. The reason for Jesus’ royal descent to earth is shown in the Gospel of Mark in a much more personal episode before Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem.

As He drew near to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Jericho, and there a blind man on the roadside cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mk. 10:46-47) Jesus said to this man, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” This healing shows the true nature of Jesus Christ, the humble Servant-King. When James and John made an arrogant request for positions of authority in the Kingdom, Jesus gave His reason for coming to earth: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (10:45)

That is the reason for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. He was not a praise-seeker, or a political militant, or an invading hero. Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem so that He could die. He knew that the chief priests would stir up the crowds, wanting to release Barabbas and execute the King of the Jews.

Jesus also knew that He had to make atonement for your sins, because in our wicked hearts, each of us wants to be the king. Each of us wants control over our lives and the lives of others. Each of us wants a quick political solution instead of an everlasting spiritual salvation. We want to kick Jesus off the throne of His father David, because we do not want suffering to come before deliverance. The way of the cross is too hard, it is too unpopular, and being a suffering servant is just not glorious and royal enough.

For all our sins, our envy and greed, our pride and irresponsibility, our disrespect and hateful words, our selfish ambition and our rejection of God, our Father in heaven sent His only Son to take the punishment that we deserve. Our God became one of us. He was born in a feeding trough in a small town, and rode into the royal city on a donkey in order to die in our place.

“And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple.” (Mk. 11:11) Jesus went straight into the temple to fulfill one of the last prophecies of the Old Testament, from Malachi: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” (3:1) The Great High Priest has come in order to become the sacrifice for all people! The Kingdom of David has arrived in King Jesus, who serves His subjects by laying down His life!

The reaction of the crowds to their king on Palm Sunday is very telling. On the one hand, the people lining the streets of Jesus’ royal procession recognize their need for salvation from sin. The word “Hosanna” is a Hebrew word that means “Help!” or “Save now!” It is also a word of praise and worship. “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!”
These words are from Psalm 118, part of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), a group of Psalms used in worship before and after the Passover.

However, Jesus quoted the same Psalm to show that the Messiah King comes to suffer many things and die for His people before He enters into glory: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…” (Mk. 12:10, Ps. 118:22) The cheering crowds of Jerusalem failed to see themselves as the ones who killed the prophets and stoned the sent ones (Mt. 23:37-39). Instead, the nationalist fervor and the waving of palm branches during Jesus’ royal procession probably reminded many Jews in the crowd of Judas Maccabeus, who cleansed the temple in 165 B.C. The temple was then rededicated and celebrated as the festival of Hanukah while many carried leafy branches and sang hymns (2 Macc. 10:6-8). Or perhaps it reminded the Jews of the triumphant march of the High Priest Simon Maccabeus into Jerusalem (141 B.C.), carrying palms with victorious chanting (1 Macc. 13:51).

But “the Coming Kingdom of our father David” was destined for rejection. King Jesus was not accepted by those who wanted an earthly leader, but by those who cry out “Hosanna” in its truest sense: “Save us now!” You and I join with all the crowds of God’s faithful people in heaven and on earth when we sing these same words in the Divine Service: “Blessed is He, blessed is He, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!”

This liturgy announces the coming of our King, Jesus Christ, not along a road into a city riding a donkey, but with bread and wine, His true Body and Blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins (Mt. 26:28). Jesus fulfills the prophecy concerning Jacob’s son Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Bind his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.” (Gn. 49:10-11)

And look at all the preparation that went into this royal procession. The death and resurrection of Jesus, the coming of His Kingdom, was prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt. 25:34). Even the smallest details have been prepared by our Lord: He sent two disciples to get His donkey, and He sent two disciples to prepare a room for the institution of the new Passover of His Body and Blood (Mk. 14:12-16). All has been prepared; Come, and enjoy the gifts of salvation at our Lord’s Table.

Today is the first day of a new year. Although it is not yet January 1st, we celebrate the beginning of a new Church year today, the First Sunday in Advent. The word “Advent” means “coming,” and so we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the eternal life He brings.

Just as Jesus looked around at everything and saw that it was already late (Mk. 11:11), may we also see the signs that it is getting late. Not only are the days getting shorter, and the end times are getting darker, but your King is about to return in majesty any day now. He will finally rend the heavens and come down (Is. 64:1), seated on a white horse (Rev. 19:11). He will be clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He will be called is the Word of God. On His robe and on his thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (19:13, 16)

He will make all things new. He will dwell with you, and you will be His people, and God Himself will be with you as your God (Rev. 21:5, 3). You will see His face, and His name will be on your foreheads. Night will be no more. You will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be your light, and you will reign with your King in His Kingdom forever and ever (22:4-5). Amen.

And the Lord, who began a good work in us, shall bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


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