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Not Driving a Mustang

November 27, 2022; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz, Pastor
Advent 1 ABC; palmsunday.jpg

Not Driving a Mustang

 

Rev. Kurt Lantz 1 Advent Matthew 21:1-9

November 27, 2022 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON

 

 

Daughter of Zion,

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

“Behold, your king is coming to you!” That is what I’m supposed to say. “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you!’” (Matthew 21:50. But there is more and the more is actually the surprising part, the thing to behold. For how have you seen kings come? How have you seen our king, Charles III, make his way about? He certainly has demonstrated some humility, walking at times, shaking hands with a public restrained behind barricades. However, his personal security is always there and there are guards in ceremonial dress too, while the Bentley limousine idles nearby, or an ornamented, horse-drawn carriage takes him on shorter trips from palace to abbey.

 

“Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” The focus of this First Sunday in Advent is the humble coming of our king. In the following weeks of Advent we will consider His coming with power and great glory, and that He is the One who comes with healing, and that He has come among us. But today the season begins with a shock. “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble.”

 

What does such a humble coming say about your king? 1) What does it say about His manner? 2) What does it say about what He will do in His kingly office? 3) What does it say about His purpose?

 

Certainly when King Charles got out of the limousine after our dear queen’s funeral and walked along to shake the hands of the people lining the way, he intended for it to say something about himself and what will be his manner of rule and what his intentions are for the monarchy and the realm. The palace Public Relations committee knew that the BBC commentators would make something out of the king’s first appearances. Things like that are often scripted in order to communicate a message. And there is a balance between getting the desired message across and being true to the person of the king himself.

 

Jesus came into Jerusalem and His entrance was scripted. It was written out by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before, and planned with detail far in advance by the almighty, omniscient God before the creation of the world. There are things that the heavenly Father wants to communicate to the daughter of Zion, to the dear people of His kingdom, to you, through the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.

 

But it is not a scripted manipulation at all contrary to the character of this King. It is scripted in advance because this King is the eternal Son of God who does not change. It was not scripted to twist your impression of the Christ, but to reveal to you who He truly is, who He has always been, and what is the plan for His reign from the foundation of the world.

 

1) And so, the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem says something to us about His manner. “Behold, He is coming to you, humble.” This is a bit of a shocker because we and the crowds on that day were not really looking for someone humble. They wanted someone exalted, someone who would show more authority and majesty than King Herod or the Roman Governor, or even Caesar. It would have been more to their liking to have the Christ come into Jerusalem on a chariot or a war horse with his arm raised in the air and fist clenched to rally the crowd. That would send a message, but apparently not the right one.

 

Jesus came with humility. We are not told that He was riling up the crowd in any ostentatious way. He was not drawing attention to Himself. In fact, there were probably a good many donkeys and colts on the road during that Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus’ didn’t trick out His ride with zebra stripes in order to stand out. In fact, not even having any kind of horse blanket, the disciples put their cloaks on the colt for Jesus to sit upon. He wore no crown. There was no sceptre in His hand. He wasn’t there to excite the people to active rebellion against the authorities.

 

Jesus Himself had said earlier, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). Jesus came with humility. St. Paul described the humility of Jesus in this way: “though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

 

2) “Behold, your king is coming to you humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” And so, the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem says something to us about what He will do in His kingly office. It says something about His yoke, which for us is easy and light. It says something about us finding rest for our souls in His kingdom, while He takes the form of a servant, obedient to death on a cross.

 

My first car was the cheapest reliable car I could find. That communicated that I did not have a lot of money to spend at that age. My second car was not as cheap, perhaps not as reliable either but was chosen to please my wife. She wanted the iconic Ford Mustang. We settled for the obscure GMC Tracker. Next came the series of minivans to carry the growing family, and then my current vehicle, chosen strictly to make it easy to get in and out. This car is now eight years old, and I have begun to wonder what my next vehicle might look like. I don’t need to transport a big family anymore. I don’t need to appease anyone but myself. What might it be? Will it be a comfort car, a muscle car, a work truck, an off-road jeep?

 

Jesus chose not just a donkey, but the colt of a donkey, specifically noted as the foal of a beast of burden. It was no mustang, or stallion. It was a working man’s animal. It was in line with Him coming humble, but it also communicated that He had work to do. He had said that His yoke for us is easy and light, so He did not chose a donkey because there is work for us to do. It wasn’t like the flagship vehicle leading an armada into battle, or the boss’ work truck that takes him to corporate meetings rather than to the job site. Jesus’ entrance on a foal of a beast of burden tells us that the burden will be His.

 

His coming has nothing to do with putting us to work. He invites us to come to Him to find rest when we labour and are heavy laden. His coming is all about Him coming as the servant to do the work Himself. He came to bear our burdens. He came to take our heavy load. He came to work to accomplish our salvation so that we would be saved without work. “For by grace you are saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus entered Jerusalem on the foal of a beast of burden because in His kingly office He came to be crowned with thorns and to bear our sins in His own body on the tree of the cross.

 

3) And so, the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem says something to us about His purpose. This king did not come to lead His people into battle. He did not come to inspire us to action. He did not come to undertake any great building projects. He did not come to collect taxes from us or to conscript us into service. He came as a servant, not to be served, but to serve. He came not to demand from us, but to give to us. His purpose was to accomplish something for us, to bear the burden of our sin in humility and to die for us, as He did later that same week so that we might live in His kingdom forever. He came to be our Saviour King. That was the purpose still evident, even as He came “humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

 

His purpose was that plan set in place before the foundation of the world, the plan to save mankind from sin, death, and the devil. His plan was the one He had the prophets sketch out so that His people would know when He came. They would recognize Him and cry out “Hosanna to the Son of David!” They would know that this was the Messiah, the Christ, to whom the Lord God would give the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32). They would know that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:33). It was all evident in the way that He came: “humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

 

O daughter of Zion, behold! The crowd on that day beheld the King and they shouted “Hosanna... Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). We will sing those very words in just a few minutes as the Sanctus in the Service of the Sacrament. O daughter of Zion, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble.” He is coming in bread and wine and yet coming as your Saviour King. He is coming to take the burden of your sin away. He is coming to give you the light and easy yoke of being the daughters of His kingdom.

 

We confess that “has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness”. (Small Catechism. Apostles’ Creed. II).

 

Our king comes humble to save us by His cross. Next Sunday we will hear the equally comforting message of our king’s coming with power and great glory.

 

 

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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