Come to Save Us

Text: Mark 11:1-11
Date: Advent I Series B + 12/3/17

Last year we were guided by the Gospel of Matthew under the general theme of the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come.” Today as we begin the year of Mark our secondary theme is the Third Petition, “Thy Will Be Done.” For God’s Will is, above all, as St. Paul wrote to Timothy “of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 1:3-6). As the catechism says, this good and gracious will of God “is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.” Indeed, it was done without our prayer, even before we were created. It was done and accomplished for us ages ago in Christ. It is done among us also by way of holy baptism and faith in God’s Word, the proclamation of Christ today. This salvation entails God coming to break and hinder “every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature,” “and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die” (Small Catechism).

We often think of Advent as the season preparing us for Christmas, the celebration of the first coming of our Lord as the Babe of Bethlehem. Today’s Gospel, however, reminds us of the big picture, yes, of our Lord’s first coming at Christmas, but then also His present coming to us now in Word and Sacrament to lead us on the way to His final coming at the end of the age. This way leads us through the cross of Calvary. The account of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem perfectly summarizes all three aspects of Advent, that is, of the coming of our Savior, as He said, “to do the will of Him who sent me” (Jn 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 6:39). To do that will He must first become incarnate, taking on our flesh, in which He was to live without sin and fulfill God’s Law perfectly. Then it was in His body that He fulfilled God’s will to be the one, perfect sacrifice that would take away the curse of sin and win the victory over sin’s wages, the last enemy, death. Now risen from the dead He fulfills God’s will to reign at the right hand of God still in His same two natures as God and Man. Finally, He will come again to bring to conclusion God’s will to raise us from death and give us eternal life in the mansions of paradise.

This text speaks of our Lord coming on His way to do His Father’s will. As verse 11 tells us, “he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple.” This was His first destination as we will hear again of His presentation in the temple as an infant. It is His second destination here as the temple’s purpose is fulfilled in His death and resurrection of Holy Week. And it will be our final destination when He comes to deliver us, not in temples made with hands but “High above earth His temple stands, All earthly temples excelling” (LSB 645) the gates of eternal life having been opened to all believers.

His first coming was quietly accompanied by the angelic chorus singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.” His final coming will be with the earth shattering blast of the trumpet of God. But His coming to Jerusalem for what would be the final Old Testament Passover, and His coming to us now in the new Passover of His body and blood, is announced with the glad shout of repentant sinners, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” He comes to us now in the most intimate way in the Lord’s Passover which is why Martin Luther suggested that it is a good and proper custom to make the sign of the cross when we sing these words, “blessed is He who comes.” For it is He, the crucified, who comes to do the will of the Father in us, bringing us the forgiveness of our sins, delivering us from the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, filling clean hearts with the love, joy, and peace of faith.

His first coming was into the protecting arms of His mother, Mary, surrounded only by the animals whose feeding box they borrowed for a cradle. Today we heard how He came to Jerusalem and the temple in the humility of riding on a colt, one on which no one has ever sat. His final coming will be surrounded by angels sent to gather all the elect for the final victory for some and the final exit, “stage left,” of the rest.

God’s will is done when He sends His Son to save us. So we begin this new year of God’s grace praying, “Come to Save Us.” “Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come,” that we may be “saved by Your mighty deliverance.” We recall that the scene looked anything but mighty when He processed into the holy city and the temple that Palm Sunday. Yet it was in His humble suffering and death that sin was destroyed and the devil trampled underfoot. That same might is still hidden from our eyes and beheld yet only by faith, faith in the humble means He uses to deliver His salvation to us of water and word, of bread and wine.

All that the mortal eye beholds Is water as we pour it.
Before the eye of faith unfolds The power of Jesus’ merit.

Under bread and wine, though lowly,
I receive the Savior holy,
Blood and body, giv’n for me” (LSB 406 & 620).
In the same faith still we sing, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Until that Day we follow in the Way, the way of the cross. We follow “through ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.” We pray, “Come to Save Us.” “Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us” (Collect for guidance in our calling, LSB 311). For You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”