Monday, December 1, 2008

The Coming kingdom of David

First Sunday in Advent
Mark 11: 1-10
Bror Erickson

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!

Hosanna: Help us we pray! Save us we pray! That is what the word means. Help us we pray! Save us we pray! Early on in Christianity it became a term of praise used in the Liturgy and elsewhere. So we sing with these crowds welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem, as we sing the Sanctus, welcoming Jesus into our midst with His kingdom in the forgiveness of sins offered to us in His body and His blood. Hosanna. Hosanna. Hosanna. in the highest, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest. We confess much about the content of the supper, and who we believe Jesus to be by singing this in the Sanctus. We confess that it is Jesus alone who can help us. He is our Lord and our Savior, and He has given us the forgiveness of sins, in His body and blood to be that salvation we pray for when we sing hosanna. And so it is our salvation in this world, for it is here that the Lord’s kingdom comes to us, and forgives us our sins so that we believe His word and live Godly lives here in time, and there in eternity.

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
So the people chanted in chorus as Jesus entered Jerusalem. And we to sing with renewed vigor this season of Advent. Advent, arrival. We celebrate the advent of this kingdom, the coming of this kingdom. This eternal kingdom of which Samuel speaks to David as the voice of God:
“ When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12-13 (ESV)
The Jews longed for this kingdom. At the time of Jesus the kingdom of David had been all but dead for a millennium, Oh they knew some good days under Solomon, but those days too ended bitterly, and set the stage for the fall of the house of David, as he followed his foreign wives in the exotic worship of alien Gods. When David was king, Israel ruled. No one defeated them in battle. David was faithful to God. Oh, he had his warts. He wasn’t perfect. But by the time Jesus came along, people remembered the days of David as the good old days.
They longed for the return of those days, and they had the promise from God Himself that they would return, or so they thought.
[12] When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. [13] He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2 Samuel 7:12-13 (ESV)
Could it be that this is the reason Jesus had come, this son of David? To throw off the yoke of the Romans and return Israel to its former glory, to reestablish this throne forever?
This is in large part what many thought that day. They misunderstood Jesus at every turn. They weren’t able to make him king after the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:15) Perhaps they thought the time had come, and Jesus would now willingly assume the throne that belonged to Him. One could hope could they not? Yes they could, but they set their hopes to low. They hoped for nothing more than another kingdom of this world, another kingdom in this world of sin and death. This was not the will of Jesus. Jesus would fulfill this prophecy in a much more profound way. The Jews would see the fulfillment, but their earthbound eyes would miss it. They wanted an earthly kingdom, and Jesus wanted to give them the kingdom of heaven.
It is easy to do. Is it not? To become so preoccupied with things of this world that we do not see the true blessings of God. You see the false Jewish opinions of the nature of this kingdom, the Jewish myths against which Paul warns Titus (Titus 1:14) abound today in so called Christian circles, with pre-millennialism and post-millennialism. Yes, these were the myths of Jesus day that distracted the Jews from seeing their messiah, and even today distract many from seeing their salvation on the cross. These myths distort and attack the gospel with false hopes, and dreams that disappoint and lead to despair. They take our eyes off of heaven and the cross. They set our minds on earthly things rather than things above (Colossians 3:2). Yet these Jewish myths abound today.
Our confessions in the Lutheran Church condemn these “Jewish opinions” in the Augsburg Confession. At the time they were being propagated by the Anabaptists, whom we know today as the Amish. They were being propagated by people like Thomas Muentzer who led a peasants’ revolt to try bring about the kingdom of God on earth by force. It has been tried in one way or another from the beginning of Christianity. People it seems always like to leave society to start their own perfect society in the deserts. Even the Jews of Jesus day were trying the same in the Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Gnostic sects latched on to this from the very beginning, and would distort the words of Jesus to fit their preconceived notions. The results have never differed, what was supposed to be heaven has always turned into a disastrous hell. Whether under Thomas Muentzer, Calvin‘s Geneva, Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate, Waco, Mohammed’s Mecca. They all try to bring about the kingdom of God on earth, to make this coming kingdom of David here on earth. Not content to wait for God to bring it about in His own good time, or in His own way, which is through the forgiveness of sins. It is through the forgiveness of sins that His kingdom comes to us, and establishes His peace in our hearts, and not through the false righteousness of the law by which this world must of necessity operate. But they would bring it about by the rule of law, torturing souls to live a perfect life, rather than a forgiven life.
That is the way many of the Jews of Jesus day saw the kingdom of David. A kingdom built on the righteousness of law. That is the way we do things in the world. We establish peace with laws, and punish those who break the laws. But then there is never true peace on earth. We have a modicum of it here and there living our lives day to day, but never true peace. There is always war somewhere, always the threat of it. There are always law breakers, and abusers of the law. These lawbreakers and abusers of the law have names too, I and me. Before the Law we are all guilty. We have to live a forgiven life, because we can’t live a perfect life.
But we pray for the coming kingdom of David when we sing hosanna. And His kingdom comes even as it is here. It is coming, but it is also here. It will come in its full glory the day that Jesus appears in all His glory to judge the living and the dead, when He will put an end to this world and all its evil. It will come in its full glory on that day. And it won’t be an earthly kingdom ruled by law and force. We on that day will be brought up with Him to heaven. No longer will the world have to be controlled by law like these earthly kingdoms. But there will be a perfect peace and harmony.
But his kingdom has also come, and comes. In a way it was the advent, the dawn of his kingdom that the world saw just a few days after His arrival in Jerusalem when the crowds sang hosanna, and when He told Pilate my kingdom is not of this world. For indeed it is not of this world. Worldly kingdoms are ruled by law, by force, by the sword. The gentile leaders lord it over their subjects. That is an earthly kingdom, that Jesus wants no part of. But that day Jesus ushered in the dawn of His kingdom with his death and resurrection when the temple curtain was ripped. For there on that cross He died for the forgiveness of our sins, shedding His blood on the cross for you and I. For now Jesus rules wherever the Gospel of His kingdom is proclaimed, and the sacraments administered according to His institution. For on the basis of that death Jesus rules as king in His church in the hearts of people, not as a gentile lording it over His subjects with the law (Matthew 20:25), but as our heavenly king He rules in our hearts with the forgiveness of sins. For the Christian life is not living the perfect life according to the law, but living the forgiven life in the blood of the Lamb, for salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.


steve martin said...

The sweet sound of the gospel offered to sinners (me)is music to my ears.

Thanks, Bror, for being a bold underline of God's Word...and for handing it over...without cost to the hearer.

Bror Erickson said...

and thank you Steve for all your encouragement.