Sermon: “The Advent of Jesus”
LSB Series B
1st Sunday in Advent; November 29, 2020
Gospel Reading: Mark 11:1-10
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
As Lutherans, we follow a liturgical calendar that follows the life of Christ. Here at Zion, we use a the three year series, where there is a Series A which primarily follows the book of Matthew, Series B follows the book of Mark, and Series C follows the book of Luke, and then the book of John is peppered throughout the three-year lectionary. As you can see from our Gospel reading today being from the book of Mark, we are beginning series B.
The Church year begins with the season of Advent. Advent is simply a word that means “coming.” You will notice that the paraments have been changed to the color of blue. Blue is a color of hope-filled anticipation as we look forward to the coming of Christ.
Advent is an exciting time as we look to the coming of Christ, but it is also a time meant to slow us down amidst the hustle and bustle of the season. Where everything would seem to serve to speed us up toward Christmas, Advent presses the pause button for us to take a moment and reflect on the real reason for the season.
This season is meant for penitential reflection, for pondering anew what the Son of God did do. It has little, if anything, to do with packages, boxes, or bags. It has everything to do with preparing our hearts for the Advent of Jesus who came in swaddling cloths and was laid in a manger. It has everything to do with setting our sights on Calvary where the Savior of the world fulfilled our shouts of “Hosanna” by dying on the cross. It has everything to do with setting our sights to the clouds up above as we look to the final Advent of Jesus who will take us to be with Him forever.
So, let’s ask ourselves: Are our priorities in alignment with the ways of the world when it comes to this season, or the ways of God and His Word? Are we driven by this consumer culture or are we moved to our knees in reverence and repentance? Are our thoughts more on what will soon be under the tree, or are they fixed on Jesus who died upon the tree? (Pause)
It is so hard for us to answer these questions. Really, it is. It is for me too. We are so driven by a culture that thinks that this is a time that “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.”
And why would we think otherwise about this season? Just walk into any store. How much do we see that directs us to the real reason for the season? Or listen to the radio. Any Advent hymns playing, directing us to a life of repentance? No. Not even on Christian radio stations.
Everyone and everything seems to be in such a hurry to get to Christmas. But it’s not the Christmas of Christ so much. It’s more like the Christmas of Garfield in the Christmas movie that bears his name. When his owner John wakes him up and says, “It’s Christmas morning, and you know what that means?” Garfield responds, “Of course I do, presents, lots and lots of presents!”
Indeed, Christ’s coming does bring us lots and lots of presents…forgiveness, peace, joy, hope, an eternal home, etc….but that’s not what people expect or even really want. (Pause)
When it comes to the Advent of Jesus, the coming of our Savior, there should be a moment of pause. A moment to ask ourselves if we are ready for His arrival. For it will not be long and the greatest present will be present with us. He is Immanuel, God with us. But why did He come?
The streets of Jerusalem in our text for today give us a preview. There they stood with palm branches in their hands, cloaks on the ground, and all of them were shouting, “Hosanna!” It is a word that means, “Save now!”
But they were not looking for a Savior from sin. They were looking for a Savior from Roman oppression. They were looking for a political leader to drive out the opposition.
What are we looking for? Someone to save us from political unrest. Someone to end the pandemic. Someone to fix our financial problems? Someone to make us healthy and wealthy and powerful? What are we looking for?
The Advent of Jesus begs all of us to pause and ask, “what does Jesus’ coming mean?” If it’s a chance to get ready to open presents and have a few holiday parties, then we have missed the point entirely. If it’s a chance to finally be able to get all that we want, then we have also missed the point entirely.
That was the way it was for the people who lined the streets of Jerusalem. Their own personal agendas for Jesus had them missing the point entirely on why He came. And that is why it was so easy to turn on Him. When they discovered that He wasn’t who they thought He was supposed to be, well, it was quite easy to discard Him. It was a quick an easy transition to go from shouting “Hosanna” to shouting “Crucify!”
Will we so easily abandon Jesus at His coming? What if the political unrest continues? What if the pandemic persists? What if the financial problems keep going on and we aren’t made healthy, wealthy, and powerful? What if Jesus doesn’t meet our expectations?
When we box Jesus’ into what we think He should be, we will always be left disappointed. And quite frankly, by worldly standards, when Jesus did come in a manger born in a lowly stable for animals, it was disappointing. No pomp and circumstance surrounded Him, just some lowly shepherds, maybe some animals, and a couple of poor parents.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the Advent of Jesus is still the coming of our King. That’s not just a baby who has come into this world that we are preparing for, that is the Son of God who left His throne in heaven for us. That is the Word made flesh who, by His own choosing, came here to dwell with us. He came to put on our skin, and to take on our sin.
That’s what the angel told Joseph. His name would be Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins. That’s what Advent is all about. It is about Jesus who came to save His people from their sins.
And it doesn’t matter if He was a disappointment to the expectations of those lining the streets of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday or a disappointment to us. None of that deterred Him from doing what He came to do. He pressed forward…through betrayal, through mockery, through beating and whipping, through spitting, through piercing. He pressed forward to the cross, because that is why He came. He came to die. He came to die for sinners.
People of God, we are those sinners that He came to save. We are those that the Old Testament Reading spoke of when it said, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
Yes, far too often, we are covered in the filth of being far too consumed with worldly consumption and our minds are polluted with our own agendas for who we think Jesus is and what He should do for us.
That is why the Advent of Jesus is so vital for us. He came to cleanse us of the pollution and filth that consumed and covered us. He came to be everything we needed, not everything we wanted. He came to give us more than we could ever ask for or imagine. He came not to leave us in doom and decay, instead He came to have the final say. And He said, “It is finished!” Done for is death. Gone is the grave. (Pause)
Over the course of the next few weeks as we approach Christmas together, you and I will be given opportunity after opportunity to pause and shout our own Hosannas as we beg for forgiveness at the foot of our Savior who marched into Jerusalem to save sinners like us. That is why He came.
And the good news of Advent is that Jesus is coming again. He will come with trumpet sound and He will take us to be with Him forever.
As the hymn so beautifully puts it: “When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation; And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart! Then I shall bow in humble adoration; And there proclaim, “My God, how great thou art!””
The season of Advent brings us face to face with just “how great” our God is! Jesus has come. Jesus has died. And Jesus will come again. He is King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He comes to do what no other king, president, or ruler of any kind could do. He comes to bring peace. Peace not like this world could give. But peace between God and all humanity. Peace in forgiveness. Peace in life and salvation. Peace in Jesus! And so we pray: “Come Lord Jesus, and come quickly! Amen.”
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.