02 December 2018

King Jesus Comes into His Holy City

Behold, the Days are here, which the Lord your God has promised.  Your holy and blessed King — the Christ, the righteous Son of David — He has come in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.  God has fulfilled His good Word in Him, this Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  He has established justice and righteousness on earth by the Cross of His Anointed and in His Resurrection from the dead.

Death is abolished, because sin is forgiven.  And there is peace on earth, because there is peace in heaven.  For God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.  His favor is upon you in Him.

That is the justice of God, the exercise of His almighty power in mercy, according to His grace.

Now the Church is saved, and she lives in safety by this Gospel, resting in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is her Righteousness, and He is her Surety, irrespective of her place or situation in this world.

This blessed King, your Savior, reigns in love over His Church, and she increases in love for God and man.  She loves her dear children and her neighbors, even her enemies, because in Christ Jesus she is established without blame in holiness before God.  She is forgiven all her sins by His Cross.  She is justified in His Resurrection from the dead.  She is sanctified by His Holy Spirit through His Word.  And she abides with the Holy Triune God forever in the royal Priesthood of Christ Jesus.

All of these blessings and benefits are yours, as well, within His Holy Christian Church, by the way and means of His Gospel.  He daily and richly completes and fills up all that is lacking in your faith and life by the preaching and ministry of those whom He sends to you in His Name, who deal with you according to His Word.  And it is just as He has spoken: “Your sins are forgiven.”

Repent, therefore, and believe the Gospel.  For the Lord has need of you.  Not that He is lacking in anything, but that you may be complete in Him and live with Him in His Kingdom by His grace.

The coming of this Lord Jesus Christ into His holy City of Jerusalem is really a twofold coming, a twofold Advent.  For He comes to His Church on earth, and He comes to His Father in heaven.

He comes to offer Himself up, once for all, in holy faith and love, as the Sacrifice of Atonement for the sins of the world.  So does He enter with His own flesh and blood into the Most Holy Place.  But so does He also come to His people on earth, to call them and gather them to Himself, and to give Himself to them in love, in order to bring them to His God and Father in and with Himself.

It is for this royal Priesthood of His that He has been anointed as the Christ by the Spirit of God.

That is why He sends His disciples — who by this sending are His Apostles — to unloose the colt, the foal of a donkey, and to bring it to Him.  That is why they set the Lord Jesus upon it, that He might ride that beast of burden into His City.  He makes His way to the Cross as the true King of Israel, not with oppression and violence, but as the One who comes in the Name of the Lord to bear the burden of sin and death for His people, and to bear His people in His own Body unto God.

He does the same thing now for you by the Ministry of His Gospel, by His means of grace.  He sends His servants to untie you, to release you from your sins, from the bondage of guilt and shame, and from the fear of death.  In His Name they set you free with His royal Word of Holy Absolution, and they bring you to Him.  They clothe you as one of His disciples in Holy Baptism.  And they set this Lord Jesus upon you, upon your heart and mind, His Body and His Blood upon your lips and tongue, in the Holy Communion.  So does He abide in you, and you abide in Him, unto the resurrection of your body — unto the Life everlasting of both your body and your soul.

Indeed, on this First Sunday in Advent, this Holy Gospel ushers you into the Divine Liturgy, and the Liturgy ushers you into this same Gospel.  It calls you to receive this dear Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed King who comes to you here in the midst of His true Jerusalem, His Church on earth as in heaven, and so to enter with Him into that eternal City whose Architect and Builder is God.

Which is to say that, in this Liturgy of the Gospel, Christ Jesus comes to you here and now, that you should thus come with Him into the presence of His God and Father, both now and forever.

Have you not heard, in this Holy Gospel, the Gloria in Excelsis and the Benedictus?  The “Glory to God in the Highest,” and the “Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord.”  Just as you also sing this morning with the whole Christian Church in heaven and on earth, as she ever sings at all times and in all places.  And have you not heard the Prophet of the Lord calling out to you?  “Rejoice!  Shout aloud!  Bless the Lord your King, who comes to you now.”  It is truly meet, right, and salutary that you should give Him such thanks and praise, especially here in His holy House.

Therefore, in the Eucharist the song of the angels, the never-ending song of heaven, is sung here within the Church on earth.  For God has come in the flesh to dwell among men, and in Christ Jesus man has entered into the presence of God to live and abide with Him in peace and joy.

More than pretty poetry and pleasant piety, that is what He actually gives to you and does for you in the Sacrament of His Altar.  Here He is, the Holy, Holy, Holy One, who sanctifies you with His own holiness, with His own holy Body, and with His holy and precious Blood.

That is how He reigns over you in love, by and with His Word and Sacraments of the Gospel.  And that is how He establishes His divine, eternal Kingdom on earth, in the Life of His Church, despite her present frailty and weakness here under the Cross.  He establishes His Kingdom in the Liturgy, which is the heart and center of the Church’s Life, both here in time and hereafter in eternity.

So does He also establish His Kingdom on earth in the love that all His people have and exercise for one another, for strangers and aliens, for widows and orphans, and even for their enemies, for those who hate them and hurt them and persecute them viciously.  They love by the grace of their King, who is Love.  For the pattern of His Divine Liturgy is the pattern of His Church’s Life in Him, crucified and risen from the dead, just as Moses constructed the Tabernacle and arranged the entire Old Testament Liturgy according to the pattern that God showed to him on the Mountain.

The one Lord, Jesus Christ, exercises His dominion over this fallen world, and over against the devil, death, and hell, by this new Life that He now lives in you.  For He abides in you with His grace, by His means of grace, and you abide in Him in faith and love, in patience, and in peace.

That is the Truth and the real fact of His coming, His Advent, though you may not be feeling it at all, and though you may actually be feeling far more dead than alive, more impatient and cynical than faithful.  Your experience is that of sin and its consequences, all around you and within you.

Let’s be honest, in this body and life you are still a colt, the foal of a donkey.

But the dear Lord Jesus comes to set you free, and to set Himself upon you, though He is the One who now bears you in His Body into His holy City.  And so does He also now live in you, as surely as He has died for you, and as surely as He has risen from the dead and lives for you eternally.

Right here in His Church is where He enters His Jerusalem, and you enter Jerusalem with Him.  So also in the world, He reigns in peace and love, and you abide with Him in safety, despite the fact that you are a stranger and a sojourner on earth.  For He has entered the holy City of God, in flesh and blood like yours, by the sacrifice of His Cross.  His own God and Father has accepted His Sacrifice, and raised Him from the dead, and received Him to Himself, setting Him at His Right Hand, and setting all of His enemies beneath His feet.  Sin, death, the devil, and hell are defeated; they are overruled, and you are saved by Him who has subdued those enemies forever.

By the Sacrifice of His Cross, and in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead, the one true God is glorified in the highest, the Name of the Lord is praised and glorified in His Church on earth, and His Church abides in safety and peace — whether in Jerusalem, in Babylon or Rome, in Africa, Asia, or Europe, in Northern Indiana or Southern Michigan.  She dwells safely here.

That is why your heart of stone has become flesh, as He, your Lord, has become flesh and blood for you.  And so it is that your mouth is opened in the praise and confession of His Name.  Your lips are silent no more, but they cry out in prayer, in praise and thanksgiving, with the cherubim and seraphim, with St. Michael and all angels, and with the whole great company of heaven.

Look here and see, you sons of Israel and daughters of Zion.  Behold, your King is coming to you.  He comes to justify you with His Righteousness, and to save you with His great Salvation.

He goes on ahead of you, through death and the grave into the Resurrection and Life everlasting, up to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to His God and Father in the highest.

But in His going ahead and in His blazing of this trail for you, He does not leave you behind.

On the one hand, He rejoices over you with great joy before God in heaven; and on the other hand, He is here to bestow the peace of God upon you, which surpasses all human understanding.

Behold, the Days are here.  The good Word of the Lord is spoken and fulfilled.  The Church abides in safety, because her good King Jesus comes to abide with her in grace, mercy, and peace.

Here, then, in His Church, the Holy Spirit lays the Lord Jesus upon your heart and mind, upon your body and soul, by and with His Gospel, that you may truly be His own, and live under Him in His Kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

And in His own crucified and risen Body, with His own precious Blood, He bears you through the gates into the Kingdom of heaven, and through the everlasting doors into the presence of God.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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