Monday, December 1, 2014

He Comes

11:1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus [1] sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:1-10 (ESV)
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Israel greets her savior. Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, it was code really. Psalm 118 had always been used during the Passover, as a chant of praise, an exclamation of thanks. The word Hosanna means “The Lord Saves.” But today they added to it from what followed in the 25th verse of that psalm, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. It spoke of the Messiah, the coming one, the one for whom they waited. Now he was here, and they didn’t know what to expect from him really, but they knew he was now here with the coming kingdom of their father David.” Here was their messiah, and he made no pretense to hide it as he rode in upon a donkey, a conscious fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. It was the climax of their history, everything recorded in the law and the prophets. Hosanna, the Lord saves, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. All the promises of salvation recorded in Scripture were there now being fulfilled in this man, riding on a borrowed colt, the foal of a donkey.  
So we start here, the beginning the church year, the year of grace, and it is for this one who comes in the name of the Lord, that Advent is named.  Advent the word that means coming and arrival, the season that kicks off the year of grace, the church year, which is all about the grace that this messiah brought with him, the kingdom of our Father David which he brings with him, as he rides in on a colt, the foal of a donkey into Jerusalem where he comes to die for the sins of the world, as their Passover lamb. It is about this grace that he brings to us here in Farmington as this same Messiah, comes to us with grace, the kingdom of our Father David as our Passover Lamb, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the sacrifice we eat and drink, the new testament in his blood for the forgiveness of sins. Because the one who comes in the name of the Lord, has not ceased coming in the name of the Lord, but is present with us wherever two or three are gathered in his name.
This is what the church is about, this is what we are about, bringing he who comes in the name of the Lord to his people, to you, to me, to your children, to your neighbors and friends, because we all need a Hosanna, we all need a Lord who saves. We need a lord who saves us from our sin, from death and the power of the devil, we need Jesus Christ. We need him to come, and not just some almost two thousand years ago, but we need him now, we need his forgiveness now, and so we need to eat his sacrifice, we need to consume our Passover lamb even now, because without it the only thing that waits for us is death. Without his forgiveness now we live in death. But with his forgiveness comes the peace and security of the kingdom of David, a peace that surpasses all understanding, and a security that reigns forever in Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and lives even now, who sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty and comes again to judge the living and the dead.
But to come he has need of you, even as he had need of that donkey for which he sent his disciples. “The Lord has need of it” he tells the disciples to say. It perhaps seems strange. What use could the Lord have of a donkey, of a colt, the foal of a donkey? But the owner lets them go, trusting that it is so. Nothing has really changed. The Lord is still in need of donkeys to carry him to the people, figuratively speaking anyway. He still comes to you with the request for yours.
Sometimes I wonder about this guy with the donkey, what his reaction was to the request. A small village like that, that donkey were probably all he had. It would provide his transportation. He would use it to carry his good’s to market. He would use it to collect the firewood the Romans would demand of the people to fire their bath houses. One could mistakenly believe his life depended on those donkeys, the same way we often mistakenly believe our lives depend on the cars we drive and the means of income we have, perhaps even our income itself. But this man seems to have known better, known enough to trust the Lord, perhaps even be proud that the Lord who had entrusted this donkey to his care, and upon whom his entire life depended, from whom he received every good thing to begin with had now asked him to be part of his plan of salvation, had trusted him to give up his donkey that the Lord would be able to come to his people to the daughter of Zion, righteous and having salvation. He let it go. He knew it would be returned, that the Lord would take care of him, so he gave it with a cheerful heart.
And in this year of grace the Lord also comes to you, righteous and having salvation, and asking you to carry him to the people, to give him the means to come. He asks you for you and yours. He wants you to be part of it, not only to be the recipient of salvation, but to carry this salvation in this year of grace, to help bring this salvation to others all for whom he died just as he died for you that you might have life. So he asks you to overcome that obstinate, selfish and stubborn old Adam with in you, you know, the one that most often resembles a donkey, and to give from what he has given you, to give back to him. This is our privilege, too, a source of pride for you. Because it is through you, the gifts you give, the talents that you expend that God works here in Farmington, here in this church, here in this community so that when others come to faith here, when you see a new born child baptized at this font, when you see a wayward soul return to the altar to receive grace, when you see the grace of God descending upon sinners and working repentance and faith, well you may think that is the result of someone else’s work, perhaps you think it is the pastor that does all that. But no, that is God working through you who set the budget, and then see to it that it is met. It’s the result of you who built this church. It is the result of you who take time to teach Sunday school, and sing in the choir, who come to council meetings and show up to voters meetings. And honestly it is the result of you who just show up on Sunday morning to receive forgiveness and give what you can when you can. Because God brings salvation through those to whom he gives salvation, through you his beloved children who have inherited the kingdom of your father David in the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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