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LSB Advent 1B Sermon – Mark 11:1-10

December 1, 2014

November 30, 2014 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA

“And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, ‘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!’”

Yes, you heard of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem in the Gospel Reading for today. And yes, today truly is the First Sunday in Advent and not Palm Sunday. But the themes of both days are tied closely together. Advent is a season of expectation. The Church takes on a sense of anticipation, of waiting for the LORD to act for His people. In that way, the LORD’s believers in the New Testament Era act much like the believers in the Old Testament times. There is a hopeful looking toward the future, for the arrival of the Messiah.

This hopeful looking for the LORD’s actions was well spoken in the two Scripture readings from the Old Testament for this day. The Psalm included petitions from the LORD’s faithful people: “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your might and come to save us!” This was echoed in Isaiah’s prophecy, where the LORD’s faithful people also called for Him to act: “Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make Your name known to Your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at Your presence!”

The prayers from the LORD’s people appeal to His power and ability. They recognize that the LORD is supreme, greater than any entity that exists. So the petitions ask for the LORD to take on the adversaries of the people, to bring rescue and deliverance. The prayers also appeal to the LORD’s character: His mercy and steadfast love. Both the psalmist and the prophet recognize their guilt and iniquity. It had caused the LORD’s righteous anger at them: “O LORD God of hosts, how long will You be angry with Your people’s prayers?” Lack of worthiness is acknowledged: “Behold, You were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”

Yet the LORD’s people are driven to call on Him for aid. It is not done by presenting themselves as deserving of His action. There is no hiding their need. No, the matter is put in front of the LORD. Rooted in their belief of the LORD’s power and character, His people pray: ”Restore us, O God of hosts; let Your face shine, that we may be saved!” Trusting in His ability and graciousness, the petitions are offered: “But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand. Be not so terribly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all Your people.” These requests are made in hopeful expectation that the LORD will keep His promises and act for the benefit of individuals who place themselves at His mercy.

And the LORD’s people were correct. For He did act. The LORD did provide aid to His people when they called on Him. The fullest provision was at the Messiah’s arrival. The Messiah comes to bring deliverance, to bring atonement, to bring salvation. It happens in that Holy Week that begins on Palm Sunday. Jesus enters Jerusalem, riding the donkey to the place where He will bring the restoration,  rescue, and redemption that the LORD’s people desperately pleaded for.

When Jesus arrives, the people echo the petitions that were offered by their ancestors in the faith so many centuries earlier. Note the way they spoke as Jesus arrived in the holy city: “And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, ‘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!’” Their cries acknowledged Jesus’ identity as the One whom the LORD raised up for their deliverance. The shouted Hosannas anticipate the salvation that Jesus was bringing as the LORD’s Messiah. The people recognize that the kingdom promised to David’s Descendant was being ushered in. Their faith in the LORD had been vindicated. Their trust had been shown to be correct. The LORD was answering them.

The LORD’s Messiah has come. The account of His life and work has been recorded. It becomes the content of the Church’s testimony and witness to the world. You have heard it and have come to believe it. You recognize that Jesus is the great expression of divine grace for you to receive. Like the believers of old, you have received the witness of the apostles concerning Him: “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you.” You are given a share of the forgiveness, life, and salvation that His death and resurrection bring.

But in Advent, Jesus’ Church thinks and behaves much like the Old Testament believers. You are waiting for the LORD to act again. And for good reason! The same problems that plagued the Old Testament believers are present here and now. Unrighteousness and iniquity are found in you. You have already noted that in your Confession of Sins. Adversaries of the LORD exist. The old evil foe and his minions are still present in this world, along with people who are opposed to the LORD’s will. They are all so very active. The Church is harassed and harried. The LORD’s kingdom is in this world, but it is not seen in its fullest.

So what are the LORD’s people to do? They call on Him to act. The prayers and petitions of the believers of old become your words. They are repeated as you pray the psalms of old. And they are rephrased in new pleas: “Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance.” You wait in hopeful expectation of the LORD’s action. For you also know His power and character. Your appeal is to His ability and graciousness.

In Advent, you will see that so very clearly in the prayers, Scripture readings, and hymns that you will say, hear, and sing. The keeping of Advent is not a pointless exercise. No, it is to sharpen and hone the expectation that you have as the LORD’s people. In a way of thinking, Advent is a microcosm of your entire life and the Church’s entire history. During these four weeks, the Christian faith is portrayed in a powerful way. The famous statement from Hebrews should come to mind: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Your trust in what you cannot see is expressed in the Advent prayers. Your hope is provided to you in the Advent readings. Your belief in what is not yet present is confessed in the Advent hymns. You and all of Jesus’ disciples long for what He will bring at the Last Day: the full measure of restoration, rescue, and redemption.

So you wait for the LORD to act. But it is a waiting that comes with a promise. Even now, while you are looking forward to Jesus’ return, the LORD is not passive toward you. No, He is acting for your benefit in the present day: “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Just like the Old Testament believers who were sustained in the faith, you have the LORD preserving you. That preservation is not just done in these four weeks of Advent. It takes place all the days of your life, as you hear again the record of Jesus’ life and work, as you hear the divine promises, as you receive the answers to your petitions. The LORD’s faithfulness and steadfast love are shown through these things, so that your trust in Him and your living as His people are sustained.

So on this First Sunday in Advent you have heard again the Triumphal Entry of Jesus. He comes to the holy city where those who anticipated His arrival acknowledge His identity and acts: “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!” Their statements spoken about Jesus forms your speech on this day. But it will also be the content of your praise when you see the revealing of your Lord Jesus Christ. On that day, He will bring you to the holy city not made with hands. He will place you in His kingdom where He reigns with no adversaries left to challenge Him. He will restore you to full life, rescue you from the plight of death, and redeem you from all clutches of the devil. The fullness of His mighty deliverance will be demonstrated. That is your hopeful expectation once again in this Advent season.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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From → Sunday Sermon

One Comment
  1. Thank you for having these posted. Well said, and always refreshing.

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