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Advent 1 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 29, 2020
Isaiah 64:1-9, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 11:1-10

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Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Today is the first Sunday of the Church Year and the First Sunday in Advent. The word Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means arrival or coming into place.  This season before Christmas is a time to look forward to the coming of Jesus — and it is very likely that the first arrival of Jesus that enters your mind is that of the Son of God coming in flesh as that baby born in Bethlehem.  This is what Christmas is all about.  The second coming is on the Last Day; the Day of Judgment.  And there is a third coming, the present coming, the one that is happening even now as Jesus comes to you in His Word and Sacraments.

These are the three main categories of Jesus coming into place that form your meditations during Advent, but in scripture there are many other instances of God coming to be with His people.

Very early in history, when the universe was only six days old, it is a joy when God reveals Himself to His creation.  God creates Adam and Eve, and God dwelling with them is a joyful thing. 

But then something happens.  God’s arrival is no longer a time of celebration.  Genesis 3:8 (ESV) 8 [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.[1]  It only takes three chapters for mankind to change the coming of God from a time of celebration into a time of hiding and terror.  Adam changes the coming of God forever.  After this the Bible describes the coming of God with words like “dread,” “darkness,” and “terror.”  People react to God’s presence by falling on their faces as dead men.  Even when God wants to be with His people in grace, He hides Himself inside the tabernacle and the temple.

The terror of God’s presence is His holiness.  As you see His holiness, the true measure of your sin shatters you.  Your reaction at the coming of God is to run and hide.  The Bible tells you that when Jesus comes to judge on the Last Day, Revelation 6:15-17 (ESV) 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”[2]

The coming of God is terrifying because of sin.  Deep down inside of every human being, no matter how much you may deny it, is the knowledge that you must pay for your sin.  The teachings of the Bible bear this out.  Listen to what happened to Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, when they came before the Lord in an improper way.  Leviticus 10:1-2 (ESV) 1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.[3]  The mere thought of entering God’s glory should terrify all who have even the slightest understanding of their sin.

God’s plan for coming to you replaces the terror of sin with the joy of righteousness.  God does this by removing the punishment of sin and giving you the righteousness of Christ instead.

And yet God wants to be Immanuel, God with us.  God wants His coming to be a time of joy as it was in Eden.  He wants to share Himself with you and not have you run and hide.  That is the great comfort that you find in today’s Gospel.  Here is God coming in the flesh of a man; humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  Here is Jesus coming into Jerusalem in order to finish His perfect, sinless life with an utterly cruel and terrible death so that God can come to you with joy instead of terror.

God’s plan for coming to you replaces the terror of sin with the joy of righteousness.  God does this by removing the punishment of sin and giving you the righteousness of Christ instead.  In order to do this, God Himself takes on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is both God and man.  As a human being, just like you, Jesus takes on the terror, the shame, the pain, and the guilt of your sin.  As a man, Jesus can die and He does.  He dies the shameful death of crucifixion; nailed naked to a few pieces of wood and put on display for all the world to see. 

Since Jesus is God, God experiences that shameful death.  As the holy Son of God, Jesus’ shame takes away your shame and His death takes away your death.  There is no longer any terror in your sin because Jesus has taken the terror away. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV) 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.[4] 

Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem brings great comfort.  Here is God and man in one person coming to the battle ground. As the Son of God comes to Jerusalem on that day, the Passover Pilgrims shout His praise even though few, if any of them understand the full meaning of Christ’s coming.  Although their songs speak of coming in the name of the Lord and the kingdom of David, they do not understand the implications.  They quite rightly call Jesus their Messiah, but they will not know what that means until the coming week is over because Jesus, God in flesh, has come to die.  He has come to Jerusalem to offer Himself up as the sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world.

The Son of God takes on human flesh in order to take your place.  He comes to Jerusalem to experience the full guilt of your sin and take the punishment for that guilt.  He comes to remove the guilt that causes your terror at His coming. He comes to grant you the gift of His righteous life.  Jesus comes to Jerusalem that Sunday so that on Friday He can suffer and die on a Roman cross and so make the full payment for the sins of the world. 

As you remember the coming of the Christ to Jerusalem, not only remember that He comes to die, but also remember that He comes to live.  The Sunday after He dies, He rises to new life.  His resurrection means that He continuously comes to you.

The wonderful thing about His continual coming is that it no longer terrifies you.  Even as God lives with you, He still comes to you.  He comes to you as you read and hear His word.  He continues to come to you in His flesh and blood as you eat and drink the bread and the wine of His table. 

In the Lord’s Supper you eat the very flesh that He sacrificed for you on the cross and the very blood that He shed for you on the cross.  The flesh and blood He gives to you are not just the flesh and blood of crucifixion, but they are also the flesh and blood of resurrection. In this sacrament He comes to you with the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

God will continue to come to you until the day of his last coming.  There will be a day when He will come and all flesh will see Him.  On that day He will raise all the dead. 

He will send away those who are still terrified of Him; those who still retain their guilt because they refused the gift of His coming.  They will never experience His grace because they will never again experience His coming.  They will only experience God’s judgment and condemnation.

But those who received the gift of His coming; those who believe in Him, will rejoice on that day.  They will always be with Him and He will always be with them and they will experience His presence forevermore.

Ponder God and His coming during this Advent.  Consider His coming as the baby at Christmas, but don’t limit your consideration just to Christmas.  Ponder the love that God shows in His coming in that even while sin causes terror and hatred, He continues to come with His love.  Consider how He came to save you with His suffering, death, and resurrection. Consider how He now comes in Word and Sacrament.  Consider how He will come on the last day to take His people home with Him.  Consider the blessings that He once gave, that He now gives, and that He will give when He comes again. Amen


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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