In the Name of Jesus
1. Sonntag im Advent 01
Virgilius, Bishop of Salzburg, Austria. † 780
27. November 2011
1. O Lord, our Heavenly Father, we give You most humble and hearty thanks for the consolation ministered to us in the gift of Your dear Son Jesus Christ, whom You did send to be a King and Savior, to redeem His people from their sin and to deliver them from the might of Satan and the power of everlasting death. We beseech You to grant unto us Your Holy Spirit to enlighten, govern and sanctify our hearts, so that we may truly acknowledge Him as our King and Savior, and perpetually cling to Him; and at all times grant unto us a true and living faith, so that we may not stumble at His humiliation, Word and Reign, which the world esteems so lightly (Löhe 119). Amen.
2. Our sermon text for this morning, dear brothers and sisters, is from the Prophet Jeremiah who writes: 5„Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a Righteous Branch, and He will reign as king and deal wisely, and will execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which He will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ 7Therefore, behold, the days are coming when they will no longer say: ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where He had driven them.’ Then they will dwell in their own land.“ This is our text.
3. Today the Church enters a new Liturgical Church Year. The four (4) weeks in Advent prepare us for the incarnation and birth of Jesus the Christ. Thus, the Gospel according to Matthew recounts this morning Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, that is, the first day of Holy Week, and with Palm Sunday comes the Messianic hymn of praise of: »Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!«
4. Too often, the Church is ready to jump from the Harvest Thanksgiving to Christmas, for this is the timetable of our secular culture with its trifecta festive season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Boroughs across our nation have already set up their generic Christmas decorations, but the Church moves at a much slower pace than the hectic world of American culture. We dare not allow the secular world dictate the Church’s deliberate Lectionary.
5. Advent, then, begins with the emphasis on justification and salvation. Before there is the donkey that bears Mary to Bethlehem where she would give birth to the Son of God, there is, liturgically, the donkey and her colt who bear Jesus into Jerusalem as the Son of Man. Before there is the angelic choir’s: »Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!« (Luke 2,14) there is, liturgically, the disciples’ song of: »Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!« The Introit quotes the Prophet Zechariah: »Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is justifying and saving, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.«
6. In preparation for Christmas, Advent focuses our attention on our need for justification. The Apostle Paul reminds us today that »All sinned and are in need of the glory of God« (Romans 3,23). Everyone has broken the Ten Commandments; we are unrighteous and wicked in the sight of God. Festive cheer will not soothe our guilty conscience. The animal sacrifices of the Mosaic covenant are only temporary and need to be performed day after day. Therefore, Yahweh told Jeremiah: »Behold, the days are coming when they will no longer say: ‘As Yahweh lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As Yahweh lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where He had driven them.’« Yahweh promises His people a new covenant and a new exodus. People do not like change. Jesus’ peers did not like the change Jesus was bringing, but the old covenant was coming to an end, and Jesus was establishing a new covenant. Moses had served his purpose, now Jesus had arrived in Jerusalem on a colt as the King of Israel. Jesus Himself is the new testament that fulfills the old testament.
7. The new testament begins by re-gathering the diaspora of Israel from where Yahweh had scattered them in the north countries. Our Evangelical and Protestant brothers and sisters in America take this to mean God will restore the historic land of Israel to the Jews. They argue that this occurred in 1947 when the United Nations mandated that a Jewish state be partitioned from the Palestinian territories. In 1948 Israel declared its independence and sovereignty. Many Jews immigrated to the newly created State of Israel. See, many Christians proclaim, God has fulfilled Jeremiah 23 in 1948!
8. Unfortunately, such well-meaning Christians are holding a view contrary the view of the prophets, the apostles and the Holy Gospels. The Apostle Matthew tells us in his Gospel that the re-gathering of Israel from the north countries occurred in A.D. 33 when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as Israel’s Messiah and King. Israel with defined boundaries is a remnant of the old testament; Jesus brings the new testament that transcends boundaries, races and nationalities. Jesus brings a new testament that is focused on justifying and saving His people, yes, the entire world, from sin, death and the devil. Thus, Matthew tells us, the daughters of Jerusalem and Zion rejoice for the gospel and the testament Jesus brings with Him.
9. Prepare your hearts, dear Christians, for Christ Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday for you. You can either receive Him with joy and celebration as His disciples and the crowd did, or you can skulk in the shadows like the priests and the Pharisees who challenged Jesus and the new testament He brings. You may have to cast away false preconceptions about Israel. The Prophets are not fulfilled in modern-day Israel, but the Prophets are fulfilled in Jesus. Blessings do not come to you because you support modern-day Israel, but because Jesus is your Lord and God for He alone blesses and His favor is upon those who confess Him to be Christ and King. Your eyes should be only on Jesus who is your Savior and Redeemer, who fulfilled Moses and the Prophets.10. Welcome this day this blessed Savior for He is here for you. He desires to justify and save you, and He has done this on the cross and by rising from the dead. You are now justified by Jesus; you are now saved by Jesus. There should be no doubt of this in your hearts and minds, for Christ Jesus has merited your justification and salvation by becoming your Redeemer.
11. Rejoice! your Savior has arrived. Jesus’ disciples cried out »Hosanna to the Son of David; the One arriving in the Name of the Lord is blessed; hosanna in the highest!« Today you, the 21st century disciples of Jesus, also cry out „hosanna“. Yes, you call out for Jesus to save and deliver you from sin, death and the devil. At His first advent, Jesus conquered sin, death and the devil, for Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus was the sacrificial lamb offered up on behalf of every sinner. He has given His Church the Word and the Sacraments whereby He gives you the forgiveness of sin and the victory over death and the devil, for Jesus is a male lamb, a ram with powerful horns, who has fought and defeated your great spiritual enemies. At His second advent, Jesus will arrive in the full splendor of His Divine glory and might to usher you into His eternal reign. On that last day Jesus will cast death and the devil into hell, and He will welcome you into the eternal joys of the new heaven and the new earth. This is the new testament that was foretold in the old, and Jesus is the Author and the Perfecter of this new covenant for you. Amen.
12. Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, the perfection of beauty, You shine forth from Zion. Keep us watchful for Your arrival on the last day so that our hearts are bound only unto You for the salvation of our bodies and souls unto life eternal. Amen.
One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you!
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
Löhe, Wilhelm. Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith. Copyright © 1902 Frank Carroll Longaker.