Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008 Advent 1 Matthew 21:1-11
And when they came near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus commissioned two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village across from you, and immediately you will find, tied, a donkey and a colt with her; having loosened, you bring to me. And if ever anyone to you says anything, you will say that the Lord has need of them; and immediately he will commission them. And this happened in order that the word through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your king comes to you, gentle and mounted upon a donkey, even upon a colt, a son of a beast of burden.'" And the disciples went, and did just as Jesus had instructed them; they brought the donkey and the colt and placed on them the garments, and He sat upon them. And much of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading in the road. And the crowds, the ones going before Him, and the ones following after were saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed–the One coming in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!"
Blessed new year! Advent begins today, and a new church year is now upon us. It is fitting that the 1st Gospel of the year portrays our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, for the Advent season is all about Jesus coming to be with His people to bless them. We know that He comes to us today in His words proclaimed & in the visible words of the sacraments. And we also know that Jesus will come again, at the last day, to take us from this valley of tears & sorrows to be with Him forever in heaven.
But exactly what kind of man is this who comes in the Name of the Lord? The crowds seemed overjoyed to welcome him to Jerusalem that Palm Sunday. But just 5 days later, the crowds would shout *crucify Him, crucify Him*. What gives? They knew that Jesus was the Son of David, a human being descended from his royal line through His mother, but they seemed to forget just Who Jesus' Father was. Jesus was God come down in the flesh, sharing His Father's divine glory.
Now they should have known better. After all, they chose to quote the well known Passover Psalm which predicted Jesus' work. *Hosanna!* they shouted. But what does that mean for us English speakers? It was a prayer, calling upon God to grant salvation. Yet they shouted it at Jesus! They should have known that God alone could be their Savior, and if they expected Jesus to save them, they ought to have understood that the promised Messiah would have to be God incarnate.
If this were not enough, they continued by shouting, "Blessed is the One Who Comes in the Name of the Lord". Now, this meant more that Jesus being simply God's emissary. This prophecy meant that the One coming was from God's Own family, One Who shared God's divine Name! They should have realized, as they helped fulfill the prophecy of Psalm 118, that the Person riding on before them was not just someone sent from God, but it was God come down to them in human form to save them.
Now, I know that you probably would guess that you are much better than this dopey crowd in Jerusalem. But guess again. Do you speak & act like Jesus is your God & Savior all the time? Or do you speak from faith at one moment, and then soon after speak sinfully? Do you sometimes find yourself a willing servant of God, and toward others for a time, yet all too quickly to shift gears into self-serving desires. You know well what God wants of you, yet you are as hypocritical as the crowds.
Truly, the bad news is that human nature hasn't changed much in the 2000 or so years since these supportive crowds so quickly turned against Jesus. But the good news is that God hasn't changed either. Jesus loved those hypocrites from the crowds so much that He was willing to give them everything they wanted. They wanted Him to save (hosanna) them--that's just what He did. They wanted Him crucified--He willingly went to the cross to die in their place to save their sin-sick souls.
Jesus is the same, yesterday, today & forever for you as well. He saved you no less than those crowds of hypocrites, by taking your place in death on the cross. He washed your sins from you in baptism and became them at Calvary. He gave up His body to death, and shed His blood for you there, that you may eat & drink His forgiveness given to you in the Sacrament of the Altar. He continues to declare His eternal love to you in His gospel proclaimed from lectern & pulpit
He who once came to Jerusalem, and now comes to you in word & sacrament, will come again from on High in glory to judge the living & the dead. That day, you greet him with Hosannas in the highest!