“Preparation and Praise for Our Coming King” (Luke 19:28-40)

First Sunday in Advent
November 28, 2021

“Preparation and Praise for Our Coming King” (Luke 19:28-40)

Today is the First Sunday in Advent. That means it’s also the first Sunday in a whole new church year. So I say to you today: Happy new year! And you say to me: “Happy” new year?? How can you say it’s “happy,” Pastor? Really?

Well, I suppose you have a point. There’s a lot going on that isn’t very happy. I mean, look at the news: Inflation is at its highest rate in thirty years. Gas prices are through the roof. On Friday, the stock market took a huge dive; it was the worst Black Friday session on record. There’s talk of yet another new virus variant going around. A week ago, somebody drove a car into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six and injuring dozens. And closer to home, a young wife and mother, 25 years old, collapsed and died from a heart attack. That’s a lot of grief, a lot of stress, a lot of sadness. How can this be a “happy” new church year?

Here’s how: Because Christ is coming. And his coming to us, his coming for us, makes all the difference. He is our comfort in the midst of our grief. He is our peace in the midst of our stress. He is our hope and our joy in the midst of sadness. We still suffer under the load of our afflictions, but Jesus coming to us gives us reason to rejoice amid our sadness. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation.” And so our theme for this morning: “Preparation and Praise for Our Coming King.”

Our text is the Holy Gospel for today, the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. That of course happened on Palm Sunday. So why do we get this reading here today? For a couple of reasons: First off, this account of Jesus going up to Jerusalem sets the tone for the whole year to come. Because the whole church year points ahead to and then flows out from Jesus going to Jerusalem for Good Friday and Easter. That is the central focus of the church year, because it’s the central focus of the Christian faith itself: Jesus suffering and dying and rising again for us in triumph over sin, death, and the devil. What is central to our faith and our salvation is mirrored in and taught by the Christian church year. This first Sunday in Advent gets us off to a good start by pointing us in that direction.

Likewise, for the season of Advent itself, this Gospel reading sets the tone. Advent’s emphasis is on the coming of Christ: his coming as a baby at Christmas; his coming to us now in Word and Sacrament; and his coming again at the end of time. Advent has to do with the coming of Christ; the very word, “Advent,” means “coming.” And so our text today fits very well, showing Christ as “the King who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The season of Advent calls us to prepare for his coming. Advent is a season of preparation. We prepare the way of the Lord as we await his coming, praising him as he comes to us. We see these two aspects of preparation and praise featured prominently in our text today.

First, preparation. There’s a lot of preparing going on in our text. Jesus gives his disciples detailed instructions on how to get things ready for his entry into Jerusalem: “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’”

A colt on which no one has ever yet sat. In other words, one that God has set apart for this special purpose: to carry the Lord Jesus, as he rides into Jerusalem to redeem a world of sinners. A lowly beast of burden is given the greatest honor of all: to carry the one who would bear the burden of our sins. God has prepared and provided and set apart this one donkey colt to carry out this special assignment. And the disciples were told to carry out their preparations by going and finding that colt. Because “the Lord has need of it.”

We are in a time of preparation right now during this season of Advent. You can see that the preparations have begun. There’s a new color for our paraments, as we have entered the Advent season. The Advent candles will signal the approach of Christmas, as each week, through the four Sundays, we get a little closer. Advent tells us we’re on the way to Christmas, but we’re not there yet. It’s a season of preparation.

But the most important preparation we do this Advent season is not the lighting of candles or putting up a Christmas tree. The most important preparation is preparing our hearts. “O Lord, how shall I meet you, how welcome you aright?” In repentance and faith we welcome our coming King. We are called during Advent to repent, to turn away from our sins, to mourn our sinfulness, and to look to the Lord for cleansing and forgiveness.

Advent preparation means getting things ready for the Lord, whatever he wants to use. Whether it’s a donkey’s colt or our heart, our hands, or or our tongue, if the Lord wants to use it, we set it apart for his purpose. Because the Lord has need of it. Oh, not that he actually needs anything from us. Far from it. We need everything from him. But if the Lord wants to use the gifts he’s given us–our intellect, our income, our witness, our willing service for the good of the church or the good of our neighbor–then we offer whatever he can use, and we say simply, “The Lord has need of it.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ is coming to us for our salvation, and our fitting response is to prepare the way before him. So first was Advent preparation. And now, second, Advent praise! We praise and acclaim our coming King! This also is fitting. Listen to the praises that greeted our Lord when he rode into Jerusalem: “The whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’”

During Advent, we join that multitude of disciples in praising God and blessing the King who comes in his name. Praise adorns this Advent season because we know who is coming and what he’s coming to do. During Advent, we welcome our coming King with careful preparation, humble repentance, and joyful praise. With repentant joy we receive our Savior and the salvation he has accomplished for us.

“The whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen.” They had seen Jesus heal the sick, deliver the oppressed, forgive sins, feed the multitudes, befriend the outcast, and raise the dead. These same mighty works we also see with the eyes of faith. We see what lies in store for us when our Lord will come again and raise our mortal bodies and restore this fallen creation. Christ will give us perfect healing and soundness in the age to come. That’s what we’re waiting for. That’s what our Lord’s first coming guarantees for us. So, knowing what awaits us at his second coming, we too rejoice and praise God with a loud voice.

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” That’s Jesus! He is our King. He reigns over us in his kingdom of grace even now, and he will reign over us in his kingdom of glory, which will have no end. Jesus is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. He comes with God’s full authority to do what he does. He is the very Son of God, come in the flesh. He comes from the Father, full of grace and truth. We praise and bless this King as he comes to us.

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” That’s what this King’s coming brings about: Peace in heaven and glory in the highest. Peace with God once more is made, because Christ himself is our peace. He established peace between God and man, peace between heaven and earth, when he went to the cross and paid the debt for our sins. He took the wrath of God that we deserved upon himself. Now the strife is o’er, the battle done. Peace now reigns in heaven: God is at peace with us because of what Christ Jesus has done.

And this in turn brings glory to God for what he has accomplished in sending the Savior: “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” The ranks of angels lead the chorus of praise in the heavenlies. We join with them in worship. “Glory in the highest!” The crowds echo what the angels sang at Christmas: “Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” We join the angels, we join the welcoming crowds, with our own loud voice of praise. If we were to remain silent, the very stones would cry out. So, together with one voice, we praise the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

Advent, a season of preparation. Advent, a season of praise. Today Advent, as well as the whole church year, gets off to a good start, as we enter this time of preparation and praise for our coming King. Even when times are not happy, even in the midst of grief and stress and sadness, we have comfort, we have peace, and we have hope and joy, because our King is coming to us.

Published in: on November 27, 2021 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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