First Sunday in Advent
December 1, 2013
“Who Is This Jesus?” (Matthew 21:1-11)
Today is the First Sunday in Advent. As it’s the beginning of Advent, and the word “Advent” means “Coming,” our readings today–particularly the Holy Gospel–focus our attention on the one who will be coming to us at Christmas, namely, the one who comes to us now in every church service, and who will come again on the last day at the end of time. So who is this one who comes to us in these ways? That’s what our text today gets at.
And because today is the First Sunday in Advent, it is also the first Sunday in a whole new church year. The church year begins today. And so our text today works on that level as well, focusing our eyes on the one who is continuing center of every season of the year–indeed, of every week and day–none other than Christ our Lord.
That’s why the Holy Gospel for today is the account of Christ riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. As an Advent reading, it causes us to behold our king who comes to us during this season. And as a reading to kick off the new church year, it works to direct us to the hinge and hub of the entire church year–the hinge and hub of history, really–which is Jesus entering Jerusalem to suffer and die for the sins of the world and to rise again on Easter. Advent, church year–it works both ways.
In this church year, the first in our three-year lectionary cycle, the appointed Gospel featured the most frequently is the Gospel according to St. Matthew. On 38 of these 52 Sundays, the Holy Gospel will come from Matthew. But really, the main question that each of the four gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John–the main question they all address is the one we hear the crowds ask in today’s reading, and that is, “Who is this?” As we heard in our text: “And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’”
“Who is this Jesus?” This is the most important question that can ever be asked or answered. It is the question of the ages. Who is this man, Jesus of Nazareth? Where did he come from? What has he done? What is he doing? What will he do? Who is this fellow, and what does he mean for me, for us, for everyone? Just who is he? Yes, this is the most important question you will ever ask or hear the answer to: “Who Is This Jesus?”