The King is coming! Are you prepared? While this season of Advent involves preparation for family and friends, it also involves the preparations of the King. We often hear how we are to be prepared for the coming Savior. How can we be prepared, particularly in a time of abundant activity?
Text: Matthew 21:1-11
Preached by Vicar Roy Askins
The King is coming! Are you prepared? While this season of Advent involves preparation for family and friends, it also involves the preparations of the King. We often hear how we are to be prepared for the coming Savior. How can we be prepared, particularly in a time of abundant activity? The relationships with friends and family are important. They are a part of Advent preparations. Yet Advent is primarily about preparing for the coming King who took on flesh to bear it to the cross. He took on flesh never to leave it behind, but by His flesh to bear our iniquity. We prepare in Advent for Christ. Yet, once again, how do we prepare for Him?
The preparations for Christ’s coming began in the Garden of Eden with God’s promise to Adam and Eve that a Savior would come. The promise of this savior is the center of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the story of this promise which would come to fruition in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ.
God used the prophet Isaiah to prepare for the coming Christ in the comforting words, “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it...” (Isaiah 2:2) Again “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense is before him.’” (Isaiah 62:11) Isaiah prepares the people to see their King in the Triumphal Entry. He prepares them to see their King with the reward in His hand. His reward is life, His recompense, or making of amends, is the making of amends between us and God. God uses Isaiah to prepare the people for a King who would come to bring peace. God prepares His people to receive Christ who comes with a reward, peace with the Father.
God also used Zechariah to prepare for Christ in these words, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9) Zechariah prepared the people for a King who would come with righteousness in his hand. A King who was humble, not revealed by a red carpet, but rather mounted upon a donkey and riding upon a bed of garments.
Certainly many other prophets prepared for the coming Christ. The center of the entire Scriptures must be Christ. Hence, all the Old Testament prepares for this Christ who would come to redeem lost sinners. The King is coming, they said. Now, as Christ enters into Jerusalem, the rest of the preparations are taking place.
When Christ entered into Jerusalem on the donkey, he had already done all the work ahead of time. Christ sent His two of His Apostles into the city to find a donkey. He tells them very precisely what they will find. Jesus prepared everything Himself. Jesus prepared His own path and sent His disciples as His messengers to bring the preparations to fruition. His preparations were not those of a king coming home from battle. He did not ride in on chariot behind a war stallion. On the contrary, his preparations were humble and lowly.
In the same way, we prepare for our coming King during Advent. Hence this text, the Triumphal Entry, is the chosen text for the first Sunday of Advent. It prepares us to receive our King. It demonstrates to us how preparations for this King are made, as well as the type of preparations made for this King.
The activities of the coming season will soon surround us. Preparations of all shapes and sizes will tempt us to turn from the preparations of the coming King. And while danger can come from placing our preparations for family before preparation for Christ, there is a greater error. This is the error of thinking that preparing for Christ is a work of our own.
Christ did all the preparatory work for His Triumphal Entry. Christ also prepares us for His coming. Christ prepares our hearts, making them penitent by the preaching of His law. By stern preaching of the Law, he turns us from our own self-righteous attempts at making ourselves worthy to receive Him. In the Confession, He prepares our sinful hearts and shows us our unworthiness to receive this gift. In the Absolution He prepares our hearts to come and meet him. By these words Christ prepares us to meet Him.
Do you see who is doing the work? Who is doing the preparation? We deceive ourselves if we think we can make ourselves prepared for the coming Christ. We do not make ourselves more prepared by coming to church frequently during the Advent season. We aren’t more prepared because we feel more guilty about our sins during this penitential season. No, God creates in us penitence for our sins by His Word. When the Law works through preaching, God makes our heart penitential. We must not think that by making ourselves feel really bad for our sins we become more worthy to receive the Lord’s Supper. Sorrow for our sins is a good thing. When the Law works rightly, we feel the painful prick of transgressing God’s commands. This sorrow, or penitence over sin belongs to the work of God.
When Pastor says, “The Lord be with you,” and we respond, “And with your Spirit,” or “and also with you,” or the singing of the Sanctus, God uses these words to prepare us to receive Him. In the Salutation, Pastor points us to the coming presence of Christ and we respond with words that affirm God’s serving us here. In the Sanctus, we sing the same words sung as Christ prepared for His life to be taken on the cross. These words now prepare us for His sacramental presence. “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9)
What a wonderful and glorious Divine gift. We’re preparing to see our King who comes to us, humble laying in a manger. Our King comes to us, humble and riding on a donkey. Our King comes to us, humble with bread and wine. What a wondrous mystery. And while He asks of us preparation, the preparation He requires, He gives.
This preparation is of more value and worth than any college education. This preparation is worthy more than the any financial advisor’s advice on retirement plans. This preparation prepares us for not only the Advent season, but also for eternal life. For Christ also promises to prepare fur us an eternal place in heaven, a room in His Father’s mansion.
And our joyous response to this preparation and gift: thankful giving and preparation for others. This season is a season of preparation for both Christ and for our neighbor. Friends and family will come and spend time with us. We prepare and we give ourselves selflessly during this season, only because the giving of God in Christ. Only by His dwelling within us by Body and Blood do we then give ourselves for our neighbor.
Christ has now prepared you. He has not only prepared you, but prepared for you a place in His Father’s House. This ultimately points us back to the realization that Christ does all the preparation; Christ does all the work. And so, when He says that He goes to prepare a place for you, you can be assured of your place in the house of the Father, a place at the banquet feast of the coming King.
Thanks be to Christ, who came as the humble King, lying in a wooden manger, riding on a humble donkey, hung on a rude cross, for us. To this King who comes to us in Body and Blood, be all thanks. Thanks be to Christ.