28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “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. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—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, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:28-40 (ESV)
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
The Triumphal Entry of Jesus, it always seems out of place in Advent. A story that takes place in Spring, at the very end of the life of Jesus, days before his death when his triumph would be made to look like so much hubris. Make it look like more hubris than the triumphs of all the Roman generals ever so fortunate enough to have a triumph. No, a triumph was not a victory. A triumph was a parade that celebrated victory. It was a grand affair that would grace the streets of Rome as a General returned from conquest and victory in the name of Rome and her gods. These parades would look something like Barnum and Bailey’s Circus coming to town for all the animals that would be in the train, vanquished enemies in tow, and in the lead the general himself on a chariot, and a slave assigned to whisper in his ear “you are but a man.” The slave wasn’t needed, but the Pharisees thought they might fill in for him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” But Jesus knowing that he was not only man but also true God, the Lord himself visiting his people knew that if his disciples were silent the stones themselves would cry out.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! This is what advent is about, our king who comes in the name of the Lord. Advent, the coming or the arrival. So it is fitting that this story be read to us at the beginning so that we can be reminded of who it is who comes, whose advent it is we celebrate, whose advent it is we await. The King who has come, the king who comes and the king who is coming in the name of the Lord.
Yes, this is about the king who has come, unlike any king before or after in the name of the lord. There’s a lot to unpack from these words. This is the king, to whom the magi’s of the east, the pagans of the orient would bow, in the great foreshadowing of the celestial triumph to come when Jesus in a chariot the clouds of glory will come, and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The great confession of the Christian faith. That this man Jesus the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth born a man in the most humble of experience, born and laid in a manger, made a refugee, who lived a poor life who came to do nothing but serve, who came to die the humblest of deaths, a death on the cross in your place that this man is God. That is what we confess every time we say Jesus Christ. He came then in grace and mercy, with the forgiveness of sins. Even as he comes now in grace and mercy, comes to you today, because today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of salvation, a day of grace that he has given to this world that he might yet come in grace. So he comes in those things through which salvation is made manifest. He tells you your sins are forgiven, he buries you into his death and raises you to new life in him through baptism, he gives you the forgiveness of sins in his body and blood. He comes to you that you would believe and believing have eternal life, believe in him and his salvation. In other words he comes to you through the church he established upon the confession that he is the son of the Living God, the church he makes known through the preaching of his word and the sacraments. The church he builds with living stones consisting of you.
And brothers, sisters, you who confess that Jesus is the Christ, you who know the grace of God, who today cheer on the Lord riding in majesty, to whom the Lord comes today once again bestowing his forgiveness, his grace and love in the body he broke for you, in the blood he shed as the lamb of God the humble means of bread and wine. He comes to you, because he also has need of you as living stones in his temple.
“The Lord has need of it.” How strange these words must have seemed to those who heard it. But they knew of whom the disciples spoke, it was Jesus they waited for in childlike expectation on the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature is stirring, no not even a mouse. It was Jesus they waited for, they knew it was him, they knew he was coming in the name of the Lord. How strange the words must have sounded, what possible use could he have of a donkey? As stubborn as a mule and possibly twice as useless. But it was a donkey that bore him to Bethlehem, and it would be a donkey that would take him to Jerusalem. He had need of it, the Lord, and those who gave it were happy to let him have it. He had his reasons, and he used it to communicate grace. And that is what he does with you.
It’s perhaps a bit natural to think that this is impossible. How could God use me for this, but not only will he, not only can he, brothers, sisters, he has. We lose sight of this at times. Perhaps we even get depressed at times, wondering what we are doing, what we are doing right, and what we are doing wrong. Wondering what we could be doing better. But it really isn’t us at all. It’s God he’s the one riding this donkey, it’s the king who comes in the name of the Lord. It’s not us, but he uses us. He uses you. What? He comes and says I have need of you, and so you teach Sunday School, you make the coffee and trim the trees, you make the budget and you meet the budget, and it is God who uses you and all you do, to bring here another year of Grace seen in a Christmas recital, a confirmation confession, a day of salvation seen in a the baptism of a niece, that even your grandchild may know the highest glory of heaven’s peace.
Now the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ our king who comes in the name of the Lord.