Bethlehem Lutheran & Bethel Lutheran Churches, Lebanon & Sweet Home, OR
First Sunday in Advent (Ad Te Levavi) + December 3, 2017
Text: Matthew 21:1-9
“Your King Comes to You”
This is the beginning of Advent, the season leading up to Christmas. Advent comes to us from Latin, meaning “to come to” (ad + venire), That is, Christ comes, and comes to His people. That being said, Advent is for meditating on Christ’s coming—when He came in meekness, and when He comes again in glory and power.
Today, we will focus on the Scripture that Zechariah made of this day:
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”
Behold says Zechariah. Wake up! Pay attention! Why? Because your King is coming. He alone shall reign among you. Christ alone is your king, not Moses with his law. Sin, death, and the devil are not your master. Let none but Christ your Master be. All tyrants who have long plagued you lie at your feet, for Jesus is your king. Jesus alone is chosen, promised, and sent by God to you. He has purchased and won you. Heaven, earth, and all creatures cry out that Jesus is your king.
He came in this way because He is King. King of the Jews, but so much more. It would simply be a tragedy if Jesus came as the rightful King of the Jews, they didn’t receive Him and rather crucified Him. But in fact by their rejection, God established His reign.
What sort of King He is
He is not an earthly ruler of an earthly kingdom. He is a spiritual King whose Kingdom is one of faith (yet one day of sight). The Jews had it wrong when they heard of God’s Messiah coming as King. They heard terms like kingdom, land, and Zion, and they were confined to merely physical interpretations. Right before His ascension, the disciples still asked Him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) By which they meant, are you going to set up a nation state, establish a worldly government, choose people to be your “right hand man” and so forth.
But we are at a severe disadvantage to think of the Kingdom, of Zion, of Israel, and our King in merely earthly ways. He is God, so His reign extends not borders found on a map but extends over the whole universe. His Zion is not merely a special name for the earthly city Jerusalem, but for His dwelling in the midst of His holy people–“For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” (Ps. 132:13-14) His Israel is not the blood descendants of the patriarch Jacob, for “All who receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
At Jesus’ entry into the city Jerusalem, it was expected that He was an earthly king, for He was riding in as Solomon, the natural son of David. Yet, it was soon clear that His reign would not be a continuation of King Solomon. God raised Him up, not to a glittering throne with fanfare. The shouts of Hosanna quickly came to a close. Instead of a gold-clad throne, He was raised up to reign from the tree of the cross. The justice He established was the “temporal death and eternal punishment” that we “justly deserve.” The righteousness He established was the sinless, obedient heart and life that no son of Adam could do. He was indeed righteous and having salvation, as Zechariah foretold (Zech. 9:9). But what earthly King could do this for His subjects? As the King of the Jews breathed His last and was laid in the tomb, it became all too clear that His reign had not yet come in power.
How He reigns
Among earthly rulers, you find power, politics, sway, and even corruption. Not so with King Jesus. He comes “humble and mounted on a donkey.” He comes not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28) He comes not with threats of condemnation but with words of comfort for the broken, the sinful, the misguided.
That is how He still comes, in humble means, as a servant-King. He reaches people not by coercion and ultimatums, but by His humble, yet powerful Word. He doesn’t display His power in mighty acts of destruction, but in the peaceful fruit of sins forgiven and the hope of eternal life. He nourishes His people, not with glorious power to overcome every obstacle, but with His crucified and risen Body and Blood. All this so that His power might be perfected in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
Indeed, the Day is coming when He will come in power, but now is the day for His Kingdom to grow. We might grow impatient with His ways, but He who knows the hearts of all also knows what things truly “work” to extend His reign. When we’re surrounded by businesses and churches-modeled-after-consumerism that seem to thrive we grow envious of their visible success. But if we are to be faithful to our Lord, we too remain humble servants, waiting to be exalted by our God.
Why He Comes
Lastly, we consider why He comes. It might occur to us that we get by just fine without a King. But who is able to face the judgment day without fear? King Jesus intercedes for you. Who is able to face the spiritual warfare that would deceive us, make us complacent in our sins, and drag us ignorantly to hell? King Jesus is able to loose our chains and fight for us. Which one of us can do battle with death and overcome? We might think we’re doing well to reach 90, but in fact the day comes for each of us to breathe our last. King Jesus comes to give you His victory over the grave!
He did all this before even asking you if you’d like it. He purchased and won you from sin, death, and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death. He knew your great spiritual need, and He has loved you from eternity. This is the sort of King He is for you.
He did all this so that you would belong to Him and live with Him and serve Him in His Kingdom. In this life, that Kingdom may not look like much—it might be hard, painful, take sacrifice, even cost you your life—but it is a Kingdom which endures beyond time, gives victory over death, and promises you eternal prosperity and blessing from God.
Behold, daughter of Zion, faithful of God in this place, your King is coming to you, and God grant you a heart to receive Him. Amen!
 Lutheran Service Book, p 184