Advent 1 Sermon, 2021

“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).

The first advent of Christ was humble.

He didn’t enter Jerusalem riding a horse fit for war. Rather, He rode a donkey, a beast of burden.

And that’s the image.

As the beast carries its burden—the Lord carries ours to cross and death and reconciliation.

He enters Jerusalem in humility, because had He come in glory then—we would’ve been destroyed.

The eternal Son of God, who created the world and all that’s in it out of nothing, He hides His almighty power, covering up His divine glory, to spare us.

The second advent of Christ will be different.

As He hid His power then—as He came to take away our sin, to save us from hell, and to win our hearts, then—His second advent will hide nothing but bring to light all that is.

As we confess in the Creed, “He will come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead.”

But these two advents don’t mean that there are these two Christs—a poor one and a powerful one.

But He is not two but one Christ, one King. 

He came in His first advent to save the world.

He will come again to judge the world.

Meet him now—that’s the warning.

Know and trust in Jesus before He comes to judge, because when He comes to judge it’ll be too late.

If you don’t know Him by His first advent, you’ll face the just judgment of His second advent.

Now is the time of grace.

Now is the time to meet Jesus Christ the King.

But—O Lord, how shall we meet You?

That’s our third communion hymn today, “O Lord, How Shall I Meet You,” but as it appears in our hymnal, there are four stanzas left out that we should be aware of:

Ask the question the hymn asks—O Lord, how shall I meet You?—and hear the answer given in these four stanzas:

“What hast Thou e’er neglected / For my good here below? / When heart and soul dejected, / Were sunk in deepest woe, / When lost from that high station / Where peace and pleasure reign, / Thou camest, my Salvation, / And mad’st me glad again.

“Rejoice, then, ye sad-hearted, / Who sit in deepest gloom, / Who mourn o’er joys departed / And tremble at your doom. / Despair not, He is near you, / Yea, standing at the door, / Who best can help and cheer you / And bids you weep no more.

“Ye need not toil nor languish / Nor ponder day and night / How in the midst of anguish / Ye draw Him by your might. / He comes, He comes all willing, / Moved by His love alone, / Your woes and troubles stilling; / For all to Him are known.

“What though the foes be raging, / Heed not their craft and spite; / Your Lord, the battle waging, / Will scatter all their might. / He comes, a King most glorious, / And all His earthly foes / In vain His course victorious / Endeavor to oppose” (Walther’s Hymnal, 44:3,6-7, 9).

Now I get it—seeing a hymn with ten stanzas is like being asked to work overtime when all you want to do is go home.

But consider the Christian who, every Thanksgiving and Christmas, is brought low by the memories of loved ones lost.

How shall you meet the Lord when your heart and soul is dejected? Or when you’re sunk in deepest woe?

The hymn would have you rejoice and sing that your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation.

He gives you a reason to be glad again!

Or consider the Christian who sits in deepest gloom, mourning over joys departed. “Despair not,” we sing. He stands at the door and knocks, He who best can help you. He bids you weep no more, because He has removed all cause for weeping—in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

And then there’s the Christian who realizes a lack in their own efforts. Maybe they don’t feel it like they use to or as much. Maybe they’ve lost confidence. In the midst of anguish, you try to draw the Lord to yourself, but, by your reason or strength, you cannot.

He comes, He comes all willing, moved by His love alone. All your woes—He knows—and He speaks peace into existence where there was before a storm.

And then, for all Christians, who feel the rage of the old, evil foe, Christ our Lord comes to us as King and God and sacrifice.

He wages battle. The Lord fights for you.

O Lord, how shall we meet You?

We meet Him where and when He comes to us.

“Your king comes to you” (cf. Zechariah 9:9, Matthew 21:5).

You don’t find your way to Him.

He comes to His church, where His gospel is proclaimed, sung, prayed, confessed, and received in the sacraments.

He promises to be where His church is gathered.

He binds himself to His Word, to the preaching of His Word, to Holy Baptism, to His Body and His Blood, to the Absolution, to His Word in whatever form it comes.

He binds Himself to what’s considered simple, even despised, to the world.

He rides a donkey, a beast of burden.

He comes to you in humility—first—to humble Himself, to become obedient, to suffer.

It’s humility that obeys.

And it’s humility that suffers the indignity of suffering while innocent for others who’re guilty.

His obedience and suffering was vicarious—He did it for you, not for Himself.

First, He came in humility to obey—and to suffer—for you.

He comes to you in humility, second, that we would know Him and trust in Him.

If He didn’t hide His almighty power, we wouldn’t be able to face Him, much less embrace Him by faith.

He comes to us in a way that wins us.

He doesn’t scare the hell out of us.

He destroys the power of hell over us.

Take this to heart.

We live in a godless culture, falling deeper and deeper into vice. We see Christians persecuted by empty, talking heads who want to force us to bow down before the false gods of woke political correctness.

We pray and we wonder when God will address this evil. We pray and we wonder when God will vindicate His Word.

“O Lord, how long?” (cf. Isaiah 6:8-13).

And this is what we need to understand.

Wait.

In patient, ready faith. Wait.

Christ’s victory was on the Cross.

We defeat our spiritual enemies by bringing the gospel of peace to those who persecute us.

We forgive—as we have been forgiven.

We love—as we have first been loved (cf. 1 John 4:19).

We cry out to our Lord Jesus, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9).

“O Lord, save us! But not just us—Save even the enemies of Your Church.”

Our Lord and Christ will return, and He will judge.

Have no doubt about that.

But only those who meet Jesus in His humility now, will be able to face Him in His glory then.

He is the One who died for all, even those who hate Him.

Wait for the Lord.

His return is at hand.

Now is the time to invite friends, neighbors, family, loved ones, coworkers—and anyone else willing to hear us. Now is the time to invite them here, to church, to meet Jesus.

We don’t draw Him here by our power or piety.

He comes all willing—to help and save us.

He wills and works to bear the burden of our sin, removing it from our hearts and souls.

O, Lord, how shall I meet you?

I’ll hear your word and do it.

I’ll believe your promises, trust your forgiveness, sing praises to your holy name, and give my neighbor the love that You have given me.

I will wait patiently—and in faith—for Jesus Christ, the King.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Advent 1 Sermon, 2021
Matthew 21:1-9
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

This is based on an outline of a sermon preached by Rev. Rolf Preus.

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