Text: Matthew 21:1-11
Date: Advent I + 11/27/16
Let us begin by praying the catechism on the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer responsively as in your ordo.
The Second Petition
Thy kingdom come.
What does this mean?
The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.
How does God’s kingdom come?
God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.
Then stepped forth the Lord of all
From His pure and kingly hall;
God of God, yet fully man,
His heroic course began. (LSB 332:4)
The theme for this entire year is the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Thy Kingdom Come. Through it all the royal kingdom of our saving God and of His Christ will be investigated and proclaimed. The sermon titles come from the appointed Hymn of the Day.
Right off the bat the first words of today’s Introit declare our theme, “Behold, your king is coming to you.” As with any king we owe Him our loyalty and praise and in return He provides us protection. The protection this King provides however is that “we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance” as we prayed in the Collect.
The kingdom of God is God’s reign and rule in our world and our lives. His rule happens through His Word since the creation. We become members of His kingdom when He gives us His Holy Spirit who causes us first to believe His Word and then to lead godly lives already here in time leading to our final deliverance in heaven.
This congregation is named The Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word. So the incarnation, Christmas is somehow to be our specialty. It is the first step in proclaiming the saving Gospel. Stanza four of the Hymn of the Day, “Savior of the Nations, Come,” speaks of our Lord’s birth as the infant king stepping forth as Lord “from His pure and kingly hall.” Which hall is that? Certainly the kingly hall of the throne of God in heaven. But it is also now that purified earthly hall, the sanctified womb of His mother, the blessed virgin Mary now become the mother of God. Yes, for this child is “God of God, yet fully man.” His earthly ministry is called “His heroic course,” for by His sacrifice He is the world’s only hero and savior from sin, death and the devil.
Today we hear the account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem for the final week of His life before the cross on the following Friday. We may think that it would be more appropriate to hear about the final triumphant entry of our King on the Last Day “when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him [to] sit on his glorious throne” for the final judgment (Mt 25). That’s the promised goal of God’s plan of salvation for you who have been made righteous being ushered into “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” the kingdom of eternal life. And we have the Savior’s promise that we will see that day, that we will see Him in His glory.
Today’s Gospel, however, reminds us that we come to that promise of salvation here already only through the way of the cross. Yes, He entered Jerusalem as St. Matthew tells us in fulfillment of the prophet who said, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” Yes, we will hear of this earthly entry again on Palm Sunday next April. But we hear it today, as of first importance, right off the bat, in order that we may remember how our Lord first comes to us in His Word. He Himself is the Incarnate Word who speaks today through the inspired Word of the holy scriptures. By that Word and that Word alone God the Holy Spirit creates saving faith in the heart, faith first to believe in our salvation through the forgiveness of sins and then faith to actually live a godly life as God’s forgiven people.
Our faith, both what we are caused to believe and the life of faith already in this world is a joyful thing. As Jesus approached the holy city the crowd shouted with joy, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” From this event we have been given the proper words with which to welcome the Lord Jesus ourselves as He comes to us each day in the joyful banquet of the sacrament of His body and blood. With angels and archangels first we sing the very song of the angels as reported through the prophet Isaiah. At that moment we join the prophet deeply bowing or kneeling in humility before His glorious presence singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of might.” Isaiah heard the angels sing, “the whole earth is full of His glory.” But now, after His heroic course was finished in His resurrection from the dead, the holy Church throughout the world added the word “heaven,” so that we sing, “heaven and earth are full of Your glory.”
Then we pick up the chorus of the Jerusalem crowd, “Hosanna,” “Blessed is He.”
“When he entered Jerusalem” that first time, “the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’” We are not worshiping merely a history lesson, though God’s salvation happened in history. We are worshiping a Person. And not just any person. But the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the omnipresent Son of God incarnate in our flesh. Through that flesh He has taken away the sin of the world and God’s condemnation of it by His death on the cross. Then the mighty Savior broke the bonds of death and now risen and living and reigning deigns to come to us mysteriously, miraculously in this meal, His true and substantial body and blood given through bread and wine for us Christians to eat and to drink. When we elevate the bread and the cup and bow or maybe making the sign of the cross we are not worshipping bread or wine but Jesus present in His body and blood. That’s why all the excitement, that’s Who this is all about.
The crowds drew the conclusion that Jesus was a prophet from Nazareth of Galilee. And they were right. That’s the beginning, to acknowledge His first earthly visitation. But there’s more. And as long as now we follow this way through the cross and into a godly, resurrection life “here in time and there in eternity” we not only will be but already are His children, His friends, His sheep, His disciples.
At last the march shall end;
The wearied ones shall rest;
The pilgrims find their home at last,
Jerusalem the blest.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice, give thanks, and sing! (LSB 813)