Sunday's homily for the First Sunday in Advent - Ad Te Levavi:
we begin the season of Advent. Advent means “coming.” The Advent color
is blue, symbolic of the eager hope for the coming King. We anticipate
the One who comes to save His people from their sins (Mt. 1:21). We rest
in the sure and certain hope that He who comes has already come and
will come yet again. He comes to seek us who are lost in our sin, to
heal us from the plague of death, to rescue us from this valley of
sorrow and take us to Himself in heaven. For all this it is our
privilege to sing, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
But who is this One who comes? How will we know we have the right One?
God’s people of old were eagerly waiting and hoping and looking. God
salted the history of His chosen people with many beautiful promises and
clues of the Coming One. He would crush the serpent’s head. He would be
a prophet greater than Moses. He would be a king in the line of David.
He would be the sprout of new life shooting up from the stump of God’s
people, who had been cut down to bring them to repentance. But Zechariah
gave the clincher of a picture: “Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on
a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech. 9:9).
Why does God give this promise through the prophet Zechariah? So that we
won’t be deceived by the TV preachers who proclaim a king of pomp and
circumstance, of wealth and splendor. So we won’t be deceived by the
false teachers who proclaim a health, wealth, and happiness gospel and
promise a life without troubles or setbacks just because you follow
Jesus. The whole story of the Coming One unfolds openly in broad
daylight, for all to see: the Savior comes riding along like a beggar on
a borrowed donkey, without a saddle or other trappings. He needed His
followers to place their cloaks and garments on the donkey—a makeshift
arrangement for this poor king! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of
Now there’s no excuse—for the ancient people of God or for us modern
people of God. We cannot say, “Gee, we missed the king. Which one was
he?” You see, when Jesus rides into Jerusalem, He does not do so as some
earthly king or president. He does not come with “Hail to the Chief”
played by the Marine band. He does not come in a bullet-proof limousine
with secret service men all around. No, King Jesus comes in humility, in
poverty, in lowliness. Yes, He is Immanuel--“God-with-us”--but He comes
among us in very human ways, down at our level: God on a borrowed
donkey. That way you can’t confuse Him with other kings.
Actually, it’s a refreshing scene—a King without the pompousness and
pretension we see in our earthly leaders. What else do you call it when
presidents and congressmen and senators act and talk as if they were
above the law and beyond reproach? If any of us were to do or say the
same things, we’d be in jail. What else do you call it when leaders in
the Middle East would rather keep fighting than work out some peace
agreement? Such are the earthly leaders. “It is better to take refuge in
the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes” (Ps. 118:8-9). How refreshing to have a King
who comes not in earthly splendor, but in lowly humility!
You see, this Beggar-King Jesus has a different might and authority than
other kings. He comes “righteous and having salvation” (Zech. 9:9).
Beggar-King Jesus is the One who brings righteousness and salvation with
Him. He is sin’s enemy. He is death’s destroyer. He is the champion
over sin and death for all who believe in Him and receive Him as their
King. You see, believers are not offended by this poor King on His
borrowed donkey. In Him believers have their sins forgiven; death will
not harm them; they have eternal life and will not die. Sure, they may
die physically and be buried in the earth, but that’s not dying, that’s
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Why? This is the King
who devours sin and strangles death. This is the King who pulls out the
weeds of sin by the roots and knocks out the fangs of death. This is the
King who rescues all who believe on Him from sin and death and conquers
the devil. This is the King who paves the way for you to be with the
angels where eternal life and blessedness are. Let earthly kings and
rulers have their power plays and their wealthy ways. Beggar-King Jesus
still has a better way of life! You see, earthly rulers cannot help you
with your problems of sin and death. Only Beggar-King Jesus can do that.
Yes, King Jesus is poor and lowly, but He is also righteous and having
salvation. He prevails not just over one sin or a few, but over all your
sins. He prevails not just over your sins, but over all the world’s
sins. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
As Beggar-King Jesus rides into Jerusalem, the crowds go ahead of Him
and shout with their mouths. You see, they don’t get tripped up with
what their eyes see. All their eyes can see is a poor, lowly beggar of a
Man who must borrow a donkey to process into the holy city. But they
listened to God’s Word, the prophecies of the Coming King. They paid
more attention to what their ears heard and learned than to what their
eyes saw. So, they were able to open their mouths wide and bring their
throats to full throttle and shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the
So, let’s follow in their joyous path this Advent season. Do not get
tripped up with what your eyes see—the poverty of Jesus in contrast to
the commercial Christmas signs. Instead, trust what your ears hear—the
message that poor King Jesus removes your sin, rescues you from death,
and gives you His everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.
If you don’t want to understand the Word that your ears hear, but
rather accept only what your eyes see, then you will miss your King.
Then you’ll be lost.
But Beggar-King Jesus wants to prevent that from happening. His mission
in coming is to rescue you and keep you from being lost. So King Jesus
comes even now to save you. He has placed His help in Holy Baptism and
the Holy Supper. He has also given His help in the Word and preaching.
To your eyes, Baptism appears to be no more than ordinary water. To your
eyes the Lord’s Supper seems to be only ordinary bread and wine. To
your eyes the sermon seems like nothing but hot air from a man’s mouth.
But you must not trust what your eyes see. Instead, listen to what your
King is teaching you in His Word and Sacraments.
Here’s what King Jesus tells you, even today: “I poured out My blood to
save you from your sins, to rescue you from death and to bring you into
heaven. To that end I have given you Baptism as a gift for the
forgiveness of sins. To that end I preach to you unceasingly by word of
mouth, telling you of this rich treasure. To that end I seal this
message with My Body and Blood, so that you need never doubt.”
Do you recall when we have the privilege of singing, “Blessed is He who
comes” in the liturgy? After the Lord’s Table is prepared, and after we
lift our hearts to the Lord and give thanks to the Lord our God, then we
sing these words: “Holy, holy, holy Lord, Lord God of pow’r and might:
Heav’n and earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed
is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” We do
not sing of ourselves coming to the Lord’s Table. That would be a bit
egocentric to call ourselves “blessed” as we come forward to the altar.
No, we are singing to Christ as our Beggar-King who comes among us to
feed us. We are calling Him blessed because He comes to us in His Word
and in His Meal. The crowds that day had Jesus in their midst as He rode
on a donkey. We have Jesus in our midst when we partake of His Body and