The First Sunday in Advent (B)
“His Entrance, Our Salvation”
December 3, 2017
Sermon Text: Mark 11:1-10, Luke 2:9-14
Peace be unto you from our Advent King, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke. 2:9-14)
What? Too soon to read this? The account of our Lord’s birth… His coming to earth… His entry of all places, the little town of Bethlehem?
No… not really. It is not too soon at all and, in fact, this sacred reading parallels the Gospel account before us this morning, the First Sunday in Advent.
With the one reading, as I said, you have our Savior’s “entry” if you will, into Bethlehem. With the other, it is His entry into Jerusalem. Both speak of the coming of our Lord… the coming of the Messiah, the long awaited One… the One promised of Old. The sense in both is unmistakably that of both anticipation and fulfillment.
The first, recounts Christ’s coming as related to His birth… the second, speaks of the events surrounding His death. Indeed, we never forget… …we and all the faithful never lose sight of the fact that Christ was born to die. This was set, divinely planned, not at His birth, but before all time.
In the one account, shepherds are given divine instruction as to where to go to find the Christ Child, lying so meek and mild, sleeping in heavenly peace, comforted by His loving Mother and the one who would faithfully serve as His earthly father.
In the other account, it is the disciples who are likewise given divine instruction as where to go… in this case… to find the donkey, the beast of burden upon which the “Christ Man” will ride to the place where He will be beaten, mocked and crucified… this time, comforted by no one, forsaken by all… even by His heavenly Father who could not look upon His only Begotten who bore the sins of the world.
In the one, we hear all of the heavenly host praising God that the Messiah has come and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
In the other, it a large earthly host who went before Jesus and those who came after Him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9)
Hosanna! In English – “Save us… now!” He would. He did.
My friends, both of these texts are all about coming. They are all about the coming One. Advent… the season we are now in, literally means “coming!” Whose coming? Christ’s coming. Yes, they both deal with entrances… His entrance… Jesus’ entrance.
In the one, it speaks of His entrance into our world… out of love for us. Christ’s entrance into the darkness of this world, breaking the darkness with His marvelous light. The very Son of God coming… entering… taking on human flesh… becoming one of us… one with us… out of love for us… our Immanuel!
In the other, we have Christ coming and soon thereafter, entering into death for us… offering up His human flesh for us… His nevertheless perfect flesh in full ransom for our souls.
Yes, both of these accounts are about Christ’s entrance… but more importantly, they are about… they deal with… our salvation… in Him… in Jesus.
They speak about the events leading up to our freedom from sin… our being rescued from death and the devil… our being spared from the eternal flames of hell… and our being assured instead of a place at the heavenly banquet… our being justified in the sight of God… our being declared righteous, made righteous, through the blood of the Lamb.
This is the story of our salvation! The historical account of the same. All of this has happened. It is fact. It is real whether a person accepts it or not, believes it or not. It does not change what took place so long ago in places far away. God’s love for you… YOU… ME… and all people… in Jesus Christ.
His love poured out then and now… on all people. The Lord our God who, as Scripture says, “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.” (1 Timothy. 2:4-6)
It is all before us, dear brothers and sisters. All before us in the days, weeks and months ahead. Starting now. Starting today. The story of His entrance… the story of our salvation. It is all before us and we have the great privilege and joy of watching it unfold in the Seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter.
How exciting! And how important Advent, this Advent, is for all of us as it has been for all the faithful down through the past centuries… a special time of preparation… a solemn time of introspection, reflection and consideration.
This includes the inward looking at our sinful nature, sinful lives and actions… all that brought our Lord to earth in the first place… and where it will take Him… where He went, what He endured in our place… in our stead… as our substitute. Indeed, Advent is a penitential time.
Advent is also a solemn time of introspection and reflection of Christ’s coming… His coming in three ways – first, at Bethlehem. His second which thankfully goes on now and will go on to the very last day and that is Christ coming to us, truly being with us… forgiving, comforting and strengthening us in Word and Sacrament each and every day of our lives.
And then there is Christ’s coming yet to come. His triumphant return on the last day, the last hour, the last minute or second which could very well be the next second, minute, hour or day. And this fact, this reality, only adds to the importance of this penitential season of Advent.
We have so much to prepare for, my friends… for what is coming, Who is coming and where we are going. And such is our joy in the weeks ahead… gathered in our homes in personal and family devotion… gathered here in this beautiful sanctuary… gathered around Word and Sacrament… gathered in Christ, He who is our Advent King.
May the Lord bless our journey that will take us to the manger, to the cross and so very soon, to heaven itself! Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“His Entrance, Our Salvation” 12/3/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran