1st Sunday in Advent (Prop C)
November 28, 2021
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Gospel from St. Luke.
For about 400 years after the Israelites reached the Promised Land, they had a form of government called a theocracy. They didn’t need a traditional type of king because God was their King and took great care of them. Even though they weren’t going to get anything better than what they had, they wanted more. They told God’s representative Samuel, “Give us a king like all the nations around us.” Samuel was appalled, but the Lord said, “Give them what they want, they’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting me.” Samuel warned that their children would be forced to work for the king, their crops would be taken, they would be taxed, and they would be sorry. Still, they insisted and of the thirty-nine kings that reigned, thirty-one of them were evil. That’s not a very good track record! Of course, this wasn’t news to God so He promised He would send a new king, the only true and perfect King.
This promise would be repeated throughout the Old Testament, including in this morning’s first reading, “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” And oh, did they want that king! They prayed for this king every day because he would restore Israel as a mighty nation, never to be conquered or ruled by anyone else ever again. This was the kind of king they wanted; it wasn’t the kind of king they needed.
The King who would come when the time was right would be a different kind of king, and that’s one of the reasons Jesus wasn’t received as the Savior King – He didn’t match their expectations. The promised King would rule righteously. He would be perfectly righteous, perfectly holy, but more than that He would share His righteousness with the people. When the disciples proclaimed, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” they were rejoicing in the peace brought by the King, the peace between God in Heaven and His subjects on earth.
When Jesus sent the disciples to get the donkey, He told them where to find it and what to say those who asked what they were doing. He proved His omniscience, His knowledge of all things. This is more than just telling them where to find a donkey, it’s also telling us that Jesus knows everything. He sees our sins even when we hide them from others or ourselves. He knows our sins even when we deny we’re sinning and He knows we have other kings and queens.
As much as we tend to condemn ancient Israel for their mutiny, we aren’t any better. We’re rebellious subjects who frequently revolt against our King in Heaven. We want to do things our own way. We don’t like how things are going so we try to take control away from God. While we don’t explicitly say that we want a king like the nation around us, we sure act that way. Who rules your life? Who is the king who makes your decisions? Be honest here. Who do you pay homage to – God or something else? Or do you want to be your own king – making your own rules and issuing your own decrees? Regardless of which king you crown, in the end Satan is on the throne, and you know the problems that come with His kingship!
Jesus rode a donkey to show that He didn’t come to crush us with His fearsome judgment. He didn’t come waving the sword of His wrath. He comes humbly, with grace, and with that humility saves the world. Zechariah says, “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.” Sure, He could’ve ridden on a big, white stallion leading an army, but that wouldn’t have saved you. It wouldn’t have saved anyone! He knows our sins, and still He comes. He comes because He knows our sins! God never gave up on Israel, He promised them a Savior King, and because of that Savior King He doesn’t give up on you! He knows your struggle against sin. He knows how easy it is to succumb to the temptation to make your own desires your king.
So God sends the King we need, He sends Himself. He takes on our human flesh and hides His kingliness to save us. He is your righteousness! Every other king we bow before is a tyrant, He is not. He comes in gentleness, so don’t fear Him. He comes to rescue you and defend you from Sin and every evil. He is the only servant King. He took off the heavenly, royal diadem to take on a crown of earthly troubles, including that crown of thorns. Instead of taking His rightful place on a throne of gold, He was placed on throne of wood, steel, and death.
I’m not sure why Pilate put “Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jews” on the placard on the cross above Jesus. Some say he was mocking the Jews who turned Jesus over to him. Maybe he was, we’ll never know. The reason isn’t important though because he proclaimed the truth of everything Jesus said. He echoed the disciples who said, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” He probably didn’t believe it, but we do! He’s your King, your Savior King! He conquered all the dictators who try to rule our lives. He destroyed every fake king there is. He has hurled Satan from the throne he tried to take and He reclaimed us as His righteous subjects. And that’s what you are! The righteous King has come to make you holy, to forgive your sins, and to prepare you to receive your own crown. Not many kings willingly share glory with their subjects, but Christ does as He gives you the crown of eternal life.
Today we enter the church season of Advent. The word advent means “to come” so we celebrate His coming as a baby. We celebrate Palm Sunday which set the stage for Good Friday which set the stage for Easter. We wait for Him to come again in glory when the whole world will be forced to acknowledge Him as the Almighty King. And because He is our King and will not leave us unprotected He comes to us daily in His Word and Sacraments. Subjects cannot approach their kings without being invited, and we can’t approach God. So, what does He do? He comes to you! He comes humbly and gently, and yet with His coming He comes with the power to forgive your sins, to make you righteous, and to give you peace with God. Behold your King who brings you salvation!
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen