nullFirst Sunday in Advent 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
December 2, 2018
Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 19:28-40

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Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Happy New Year!  We have made it to the beginning of another year on the church calendar.  The paraments have changed to blue.  The candle wreath is up and one candle is lit.  We have left the 27 Sundays after Pentecost and entered the season of Advent.  This is a season of anticipation.  Advent means, “A coming into place.”  In Advent we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ first coming into place as a baby in Bethlehem and, at the same time, we look forward to Jesus’ last coming into place on the judgement day.

Today’s Gospel reading looks at yet another Advent of Jesus; Jesus coming into place in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in preparation for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  In both Jesus’ first Advent in Bethlehem and His Palm Sunday Advent in Jerusalem we find amazing contrasts.

In Bethlehem we encounter this marvelous scene of a multitude of angels shining forth the Glory of God and singing praises to the newborn Savior; Christ the Lord.  We have this amazing, magnificent sight, but as our view pans out we see that this astonishing scene is being played out to a field full of sheep and a few lowly shepherds.  And we learn that this one they are singing about, the Savior, Christ the Lord, is a little newborn baby boy wrapped up in cloths and lying in an animal feed trough.  The angels sing about this baby’s birth, Luke 2:14 (ESV) 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[1]  Gloria in Excelsis Deo.  Glory to God in the highest.  And on earth peace.

Fast forward 33 years and we find Jesus riding into Jerusalem.  Jesus is coming into place as King of the Jews riding a colt that has never been ridden down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.  Crowds are welcoming Jesus; they are spreading their cloaks on the road so the colt doesn’t have to step on the ground.  This is a majestic scene, the King coming to be crowned.  The crowds cry out with an echo of the angels announcing to the shepherds, Luke 19:38 (ESV) 38 … “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”[2]  Gloria in excelsis.  Glory in the highest.  Peace in Heaven.

When Jesus came into place in Bethlehem as a baby, the angels announce peace on earth.  Now, as Jesus comes into place in Jerusalem to be arrested, killed and to rise again, the crowds announce peace in heaven.  It is the full cycle.  Peace on earth and peace in heaven.

Just like at Jesus birth, on Palm Sunday there are great contrasts.  He enters with great pomp and the crowds praising him, but then Jesus weeps over the city knowing it will be destroyed.  Jesus is going to be crowned king, but the crown will be a torturous crown of thorns.  He will be enthroned, but enthroned in pain and humiliation on a cross with a sign above Him reading, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”  On Sunday Jesus rides into town on a colt on which no one has ever ridden.  By Friday afternoon Jesus is dead and lying in a tomb which no one has ever used.  Jesus’ great glory is revealed in His great humility.

There is such a great contrast between Jesus being God Almighty and all the glory and honor and power we expect from that, and the humble reality of Jesus as God in flesh as a baby in a manger, and the harsh, humiliating truth of Jesus as a pitiable tortured figure gasping for breath on the cross.

You have experience with these types of contrasts.  You are a baptized child of God.  You have been given forgiveness, life and salvation.  You are in the Kingdom of Heaven right now.  Right now you have eternal life in Christ.  This is your identity.  And yet, as you well know, life in this world is so very difficult, so very sad.  There are such struggles in this life.  There is illness that attacks your body.  There is short term sickness that many experience throughout the year, colds, flu, stomach viruses, strep throat, and there is long term, devastating illness that threatens to destroy you.  What a contrast.  You have the promise of eternal life, and your body is breaking down and you are destined for the grave.

You are a follower of the Prince of Peace and yet you live in a world that is full of conflict and violence.  Jesus comes to bring peace on earth and peace in heaven and that promise of peace is for you, but, for now, you live in a world of conflict.  One of the devil’s favorite tools to tear people apart is conflict.  You see it in families, in school classrooms, in businesses, in government, and in church congregations.  Conflict gets in the way of people working together for good and instead has them spend their efforts and abilities in looking for methods to stand in the way and destroy.  In this life, conflict will come, but you are called as a follower of the Prince of Peace to calm conflict and help bring peace in this world.  As a Christian, called to be salt and light to the world, you are called to live life reducing conflict.

You are a baptized child of God, a follower of the Prince of Peace.  You have the peace that passes understanding and yet you live in a world of sickness, violence, sadness, death and conflict.  Such great a contrast.

There is such a great contrast between Jesus being God Almighty and all the glory and honor and power we expect from that, and the humble reality of Jesus as God in flesh as a baby in a manger, and the harsh, humiliating truth of Jesus as a pitiable tortured figure gasping for breath on the cross.

You even see the contrasts in your own experience with God.  You gather on Sunday to hear of God’s glory and power and might.  You hear how great and wonderful God is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  You hear about God’s magnificent glory.  You sing

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth adored;

Heav’n and earth with full acclaim shout the glory of Your name.

Sing hosanna in the highest, sing hosanna to the Lord;

Truly blest is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

You sing the words of Isaiah the prophet and the words of the crowds in Jerusalem on that day of Jesus coming into place.  You sing of Jesus being YHWH Sabaoth.  The Lord of the heavenly armies.  Heaven and earth shout the glory of His name.  And then you come forward to the altar of the Lord and you receive the Lord Jesus in a simple wafer of bread and simple sip of wine.  What a great contrast.

But in these contrasts we gain deep insight into the truth about Jesus.  Jesus came as Lord to serve, not to be served.

The contrasts we encounter with Jesus coming into place in Bethlehem and into place in Jerusalem give us insight into Jesus’ true character.  Glory and majesty are contrasted with humility and sacrifice.  The mind-blowing truth is that Jesus is both true God and true man.  Jesus is God in flesh.  He is the sinless Son of God and He becomes sin to save you.

St. Paul gives us a wonderful description of who Jesus is in Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV) 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.[3]

The fullness of God dwells in Jesus.  The fullness of God comes into place and lies in the straw of the manger in Bethlehem.  The fullness of God comes into place in Jerusalem and hangs in excruciating agony making peace by the blood of His cross.  The fullness of God is coming in place again to take you home.  Christ has died.  Christ has risen.  Christ will come again.  A blessed Advent to all.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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