The First Sunday in Advent Sermon, 2019

A God who is everywhere is no better than a God who is nowhere, if He isn’t somewhere for you and for your benefit.

God comes to us by means. Always by means.

The Means of Grace.

The Word of God. The Sacraments.

It’s not that God couldn’t come to us in different ways. It’s not that God hasn’t come to His people of old in many and various ways. It’s that God has chosen and promised and proclaimed to all the world that He most certainly comes to us in these ways—these means.

Today, God comes to us in the Gospel, the Word of God proclaimed and preached—and the Sacrament, the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ, given and shed for you, that you would have the forgiveness His body, given, and His blood, shed, earned for you.

Here and by these means, we know that God is for us.

Here and by these means, we have the hope of everlasting life, because God fights for us.

But where Jesus doesn’t come, there’s no hope. Where He’s not for you, there’s no certainty of salvation.

Jesus comes to us—by means—that we would be certain of our hope, certain of our salvation.

So be comforted, and know that your God comes to you in these ways and for your benefit.

Look—and see—how He comes to Jerusalem.

Jesus comes with knowledge.

Jesus knew where the donkey was and where the colt was. He knew that someone would ask them why they needed them. St. Mark records how the disciples told those who asked that the Lord had need of them, and they immediately let them take the animals.

Jesus knew what was written about Him by the prophet Zechariah, and He knew He had to fulfill it and how.

Zechariah wrote: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).

The eternal Son of God possesses perfect knowledge.

In Proverbs chapter eight, Solomon calls Him wisdom. In John chapter one, St. John calls Him the Word.

He knows everything there is to know.

And for us to know Him is for us to know God.

All that would terrify us if we didn’t know that God is for us. But sometimes we doubt that, too.

How do we know? Is God actually for us?

We expect God to be angry. We’re guilty of all sin, committing all kinds—and the only kind, unbelief.

God knows all.

That God knows could cause everyone of us to despair of all things.

St. Paul writes in Galatians, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

If we reap what we sow, the coming of the One who knows everything we’ve ever thought, said, or done is a time, not to celebrate, but to avoid.

Jesus really does know when you’re sleeping. And when you’re awake. He knows what you’ve done, what you’ve left undone. What you’ve wanted to do and what you’ve talked about doing.

He knows. And He’s coming soon.

This could cause everyone of us to despair of all things, but look how Jesus comes to us!

He comes with knowledge, yes. But He comes, also, in humility, meekness.

He who will judge the hearts and minds of the entire human race, who knows every sin you’ve ever committed, He comes in humility.

He comes to stand in your place, to die for you.

His ride on the donkey into Jerusalem wasn’t a spontaneous decision. It was deliberate.

The ride on the donkey was a ride unto death.

He comes to Jerusalem to die there. He goes to the place where sacrifices are made, and His blood is shed for the sin of the world. 

He knew He would be rejected.

He knew He would suffer.

He knew He would bear in His own body the sin of the world.

That’s why He came—in humility.

To obey the will of his Father. To fulfill the demands of the Law. To suffer the penalty for the world’s disobedience.

When Jesus came in humility, He embraced what humility required of Him—obedient suffering.

Pride suffers nothing, insisting on its own way.

Pride challenges God’s authority, asserting the word of the world against the Word of God.

Pride scoffs at the benefit of humble obedience, following only the three most important people: me, myself, and I.

Pride sets itself up as a judge of God and neighbor, but “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18).

But God comes, rescuing us from that destruction.

The Son of God, sharing the majesty and glory and power of His Father, chose to become our brother, to redeem His brothers.

He chose to humble Himself, to become a servant, to be born under the law, to bear the sin and shame of the world to the point of death, even death on a cross.

But there, lifted up and mocked by the world, God obtained the greatest glory.

In the willing obedience and perfect sacrifice of Jesus, God is glorified, and His great love for us and the world is made known.

Why did the crowd worship him? Why did they offer him such a beautiful liturgy of praise, singing “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9).

Because He loved them.

He loved them, and they knew it.

He didn’t come to judge them or punish them.

He came to rescue them from the peril of their sin.

God comes with knowledge, knowing how to save us.

He comes in humility, serving us and saving us.

God comes to help, save, comfort, and defend us all.

God comes to forgive us our sins, to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

God comes to us and for us, by means, that we may hear and believe, eat and drink, and have forgiveness.

We come to God burdened by guilt.

He comes to us, covering that guilt and taking away our burdens.

We come, confessing our sins of pride and self-promotion.

He comes to us, knowing perfectly all our sin.

But in knowing us, in knowing our sin, He neither turns away from us in disgust nor against us in anger.

He comes to us in love. Your king comes to you.

Not just to the other Christians who have everything together, who are living good Christian lives.

He comes to you who’ve repeatedly fallen short in your Christian duty and squandered the opportunities God has given you.

He comes to you to forgive you, to restore you to His side, to strengthen you, and keep you in His peace.

We meet Him and—by faith in Him—we worthily receive Him.

God comes to you not that you would be afraid but that you would believe that He is your God, that you would sing “Hosanna” to the Lord!

A blessed Advent to you all!

Jesus is coming—to save us.

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

The First Sunday in Advent Sermon, 2019 (Ad Te Levavi)
Matthew 21:1-9
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

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