Coming to Die
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus was coming. He was coming to die. He came to earth in the flesh for a purpose, and that purpose was to die for sinners. That’s why Advent begins with Palm Sunday: so we look forward to Christmas for the right reason. This is not just a celebration of the birth of Christ, but the birth of the One who was born to die for you. Advent begins with Palm Sunday to teach you to celebrate Christmas as you should, that is, celebrating at Christmas time the birth of the Child who takes away your sins.
So how do you welcome our King as He comes? You confess Him as the fulfillment of God's promises. Jeremiah says that a righteous branch will grow up from David's line. His Name will be called "The Lord our Righteousness." Behold the man riding into Jerusalem on a donkey! You are not righteous, but He is. You are a sinner. He is the Lamb who comes to be the sacrifice for your sins. To be ready as He comes is to see that this Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Lord's promises throughout the Scriptures. Every promise God ever made to His sinful creation has come together and is fulfilled in the Son of God in the flesh. As Jesus rides into Jerusalem, you hear the prophets announcing His arrival. This is the high point of all human history: God is here in the flesh, one of us, yet without sin, to be our King!
The Lord doesn't come for you to throw your jackets before Him; He comes to take away your sins. Jesus is riding into Jerusalem, not so He can have a parade, but so that you can recognize Him as the King who is on His way to the cross for you. In this holy season of Advent, dear Christians, throw your sins to Jesus. Stand before Him so that He might throw upon you the white robe of His righteousness! He does so in Holy Baptism. He covers you. He welcomes you at the font as His own dear redeemed child of God!
But don't just stand there on the side of the road in Jerusalem! The Lord is coming to you now, for real—not on a donkey this time, but under the bread and wine with His body and blood. With His own Words, the Lord puts Himself upon this altar and into your mouth to bring you righteousness and salvation, just like the prophet says! My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are gathered here because our Lord is coming! We are not here just remembering some stuff that happened a long time ago! No, we are here today because, by His Word and Sacraments, Christ is truly present among us! He comes through the ministry of the Gospel and Sacraments: in this cleansing from sin, in the Word of forgiveness, in His body and blood on His altar. He comes among us to forgive us, to keep us in the faith, to take away our sins, to be our true and saving King! No wonder we sing in the liturgy: “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.”
That Day is coming when our Lord will return. There is no time to waste in despising our neighbor, no time for shirking the responsibilities of our callings, no time for kids to do everything except what their parents tell them. There is no time, with our Lord on the way, to be building debts of sin against other people! Now is the time to love one another. Now is the time to remember that our Lord came to love us so that we might learn to love, to care for and serve others. Now is the time of anticipation. Now is the time of confessing our sins and living in our Lord's forgiveness. Now is the time to look heavenward, eagerly expecting our Lord's return. We long for that day and pray that it comes soon! And just as the crowds sang and as we will sing on that day, our new Church Year begins as we confess our faith and hope in Jesus: “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!” In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.