St. Matthew 21:1-9
November 29, 2015 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The prophesy in Zechariah reads: “Say to the daughter of Zion, behold your King is coming to you.” The verb is best rendered in English as a continuous action. He is the Lord who is coming, right now, as He has been since the world began, and as He will until the end of the ages when He comes in glory.
Is it something that we tend to take for granted – not so much from our ingratitude or laziness – but simply because it is so fundamental to who Our God is. If He is God then He must be good and He must be powerful. But to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God seen in David and foretold in Zechariah, the God who became Flesh, died for sinners, and is risen from the dead then He must also be merciful and He must be present.
He is not an engineer who designs the thing, sets it in motion, and walks away. He is a gardener who prunes and fertilizes and waters. He is a shepherd who counts sheep and guides them. He is a doting Father who watches His children play and counts every hair on their heads.
He is the Lord who is with us, who is present for us, who comes to us now, humbly and gently, who makes Himself accessible. He is the Lord who speaks in His Word. Our God is not silent. We do need to guess at what He wants and what He thinks of us. He is revealing Himself to us in His Word. He is the Lord our righteousness, the God of our salvation, who has made Himself a substitute and atoning sacrifice that we might be forgiven, reconciled, and spared damnation. This isn’t an educated guess based upon what we can make of Him with microscopes or the anecdotes of farmers or the imaginations of freshman philosophy students. This is what He has said to us in the Bible. He is the God who intervenes in history, in creation, who takes our Flesh, joins our cause, and places Himself between us and Satan at the cost of His own life.
He is the Lord who is with us, who is for us, who comes where He has promised. We do not have to get His attention. We already have it. We do not have to find Him or worry that He is far away or has forgotten us. He has made Himself known. He is, in a very real sense, present everywhere. This is His creation. But He is present for us, for our good, where He has promised to be. He draws near to us in the saving waters of Holy Baptism, in the grace of Absolution, and in the Holy Communion. He is Jacob’s ladder, not bridging heaven and earth but bringing heaven to us. We don’t ascend to God by the tower of Babel or an abundance of good works or spiritual gyrations. He comes to us.
Behold: Your King is coming to you. He descends. He comes to us that we might be reconciled and returned to Him. He no longer rides into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, but He is still coming to you, humble, gentle, that you might approach Him and not be destroyed. He does not come as a conquering general demanding obedience and honor, but as the father of the prodigal son running toward you eager to restore you. He does not come as Cinderella’s prince seeking a beauty of the right sort, rejecting the ugly sisters. You don’t have to worry if the shoe fits. It doesn’t and it doesn’t matter. Because He draws near as a landowner who wants to pay you for work you did not perform, as a Samaritan who finds you half-dead in the ditch, your Kins-man Redeemer ready to buy you out of slavery. Behold, though He is mighty and powerful, though He commands legions of angels, though you have sinned and disobeyed Him and gone after other gods, He is not coming now as Judge. He is coming now, humbly, gently. He is seeking you and your salvation.
For the next three Sundays the Church year will unfold this great mystery: God comes to us in mercy, humbly. This will culminate in our celebration of the coming of Christ in the Flesh to make Himself a ransom for sinners – the ultimate and consuming mercy that drives all of history.
Meanwhile all around us consumerism and nostalgia and fairy tales will reign supreme. They threaten to take over Holy Christmas and make it something sensual, decadent, and jingoistic. But this isn’t as out-of-sync as it might seem. The Church always has an eye toward the end. We are probably never more in-sync with the Church Triumphant than when we are out-of-sync with the world. We aren’t getting ready to greet the baby Jesus or trying to figure out how to create peace on earth and end poverty and learn tolerance. We are getting ready to meet the crucified and risen Lord who rode into Jerusalem to die and then rode out of Joseph’s tobm alive. He will come in glory to judge both the quick and the dead. He doesn’t come now as Judge. Now He comes as He came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, humbly, gently, in grace. Now is the day of the salvation.
But He will come as Judge. There is a day of wrath when no man can work, when the dealers no longer sell oil. We get ready for that day by receiving Him now, while He may be found, as He desires to be found and known, as He has revealed Himself, the Lord who rides as a Lamb to the slaughter without complaint to untie us from our bondage to Satan, the Lord, our righteousness, who gives Himself anew to us in the Holy Supper.
Blessed is He. He comes in the Name of the Lord on our behalf and makes us blessed in Him. Hosanna to the Son of David. Hosanna in the highest. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.