Sunday in Advent
Behold, Your King Comes to You.
name of the little city of Bethphage means ďmouth houseĒ because it
is here that God spoke to His people, introducing to them their King.
Since God has adopted us as His dear children in our baptism and
through that sacred washing has taken away all of our sin with the
redeeming, justifying, and sanctifying blood of Jesus, we know for sure
that He is also our King. So
we take to heart the words spoken by the prophet Zechariah as these
words are given to us in the Gospel Lesson for the First Sunday in
Advent: ďBehold, your king comes to you.Ē
That is our text.
your king comes to you. Todayís
sermon has four parts. We
consider first the word: behold. Second:
your king. Third: your king
comes. Fourth: your king
comes to you.
We donít talk that way in English anymore, although in some
parts of the country folks will say ďLookitĒ when they want to make
a point.Ē Pay attention.
Look at this. There is something here that requires your undivided
attention because it is important.
It matters to you, and you should know this.
It deals with the most momentous and significant things of your
Look! Pay attention!
pay no attention. They
donít even bother to look. They
wonít go to church because they donít think there is anything there
that they want to hear, see, or know.
But there is! When the prophet says to behold, heís got something youíd
better hear. If you
wonít, youíll surely wish you had.
You see, the prophet is talking for God, and God wonít be
ignored. Children can and
do dismiss their parentsí advice and as long as the folks donít see
it the children get away with it. Students may have a teacher who is really boring and they pay
no attention because it doesnít make any difference to them what the
teacher is saying. But when
God talks through his prophet, you should listen.
This is something you need to hear.
your King. Now one thing we
know about kings is that they arenít elected by a popular vote or even
an Electoral College vote. They
are born. The people donít vote for a king. Nowadays the vote is the almighty and omniscient voice of
authority, as if the people are their own gods. Well, they think they are.
Thatís the problem with democracy in America. The people make themselves into their own gods and consider
their votes to be the voice of God and so politicians do their level
best to prove that they have the approval of the people.
The approval of the people has become more important than any
promise to uphold the law. Thatís
no way to run a country, and God doesnít rule his church in that way. God surely doesnít rule according to the by your leave of
the people. Behold your
King. You didnít elect
Him. God did.
From eternity, God chose Him to be your King. And over the years God explained in clear detail the various
facts of His coming. Through
the prophet Isaiah God said that He would be born of a virgin.
Through the prophet Micah He said that He would be born in
Bethlehem. Through the
prophet Zechariah He described the events that came to pass as recorded
for us in the Gospel reading for today, the First Sunday in Advent.
God chose this King. God
elected Him. Godís vote is the only vote that counts.
your king. He is a king. He rules. He
doesnít waste his time consulting anyone on how He should govern.
Nobody can advise Him. As
the Bible says:
He is your king. He rules
over you, not as you would teach Him, but as He would teach you.
Other kings make demands on you and take your money, your sons,
your land, and your time. In
return they offer you protection and some basic governmental services.
But this king comes into the world to meet the demands you failed
to meet. He comes to become
a king like no other who, instead of ruling over you by law and force,
rules over you by taking off of you all of your sins and taking those
sins upon Himself. This is
what He did. It was on the
cross that He was publicly identified as King.
It was to the cross that He was riding as He went into Jerusalem
on that donkey. It was to
Calvary to become your King. There
He would face your enemy. I
am talking about the enemy inside of you.
He faced your sin. He
came into the world to do just that.
Only by facing it as the One who would suffer for it; only by
bearing the punishment of it; only by overcoming your sin with His
innocence would He be able to take off of your soul the guilt you have
earned. And this is what He
your king comes. He comes.
He who came comes. Advent means coming. At
His first advent He came as a baby born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary.
This birth we celebrate on December 25.
We call it Christmas, which comes from the words Christ and mass.
The mass, as you may know, is an old word used to refer to the
church service. Now the
word service is an interesting word.
If you were to take a group of Christians at random and ask them
about service and what kind of service is going on when Christians
gather together on a Sunday morning, I think I know what most people
would say. They would say
that we serve God by going to church.
Now that is perfectly true.
You should serve God by giving him your complete attention, your
heartfelt praise, and the sincere intent of your will to seek out his
will for you and to do it. If
you are a child of God you must serve your Father in heaven.
You must serve the king, His only Son.
As David writes in Psalm 2:12, ďKiss the Son, let he be
the more important service that takes place on a Sunday morning is the
service that your King renders to you.
Thatís a fact. Itís
not a fact that is widely acknowledged or confessed, and thatís a
shame. But when you come
here to church, your King, Jesus most certainly comes to you.
He comes. He comes
of His own free will. You
donít compel Him to come by anything you say, do, or promise.
He comes to you. He
comes to serve you.
washed his disciplesí feet and humbled Himself before them. He, the King, serves His subjects. That is how he saves us.
He stoops to wash away our sins in Holy Baptism.
He preaches words of eternal life to us through the mouths of
sinners with clay feet. It
is Jesus who comes to us and speaks to us and gives to us His own
righteousness in the place of our sins.
He comes in the preaching of the gospel.
comes in the Lordís Supper. He
is the host. He is the
food. He comes to us and gives us to eat and to drink His body and
His blood. This is how He
serves us. We donít offer
that body and blood up to God, as if we could offer up a sacrifice to
take away sin. Jesus offers
that body and blood to us, so that we may have no doubt at all that He
is gracious to us. Why
would God give us His body and blood to eat and to drink if He wished to
harm us? Why would He bear
on the cross all of our sins, and then give to us this holy and precious
meal in which there is nothing but sheer mercy, love, and forgiveness,
if He meant to judge us or punish us or send us to hell?
wouldnít. No, He comes to
us in the preaching of the gospel and in the administration of the holy
sacraments because He wants to serve us and thereby to save us.
He wants to do this for us.
So he comes.
you want this service? Or
does it offend you? Do you
want to be like Peter who was too pious a Christian to have his King and
Lord and master kneel down before him and wash his feet?
If you donít want this divine service then you donít want
Jesus. He never takes on a
personal relationship with a sinner except as that sinnerís Savior.
Those who speak so eloquently and at great length of their
personal relationship to Jesus, and how Jesus has become the Lord of
their life, let them stop to listen to the prophetic words: Your king
comes to you. You donít
make Him your king. He
makes Himself your king. You
donít draw Him out of heaven to bring Him down to you, nor do you draw
yourself up to heaven to bring yourself to Him.
But He, the Lord God almighty, who joined Himself to our human
flesh and blood and who has given us to share His very name, the LORD,
our Righteousness, comes to us in the washing of baptism, in the
preaching of the gospel, in the giving out of His body and blood in the
Lordís Supper. This is
King comes to you. To you,
dear Christian! He isnít
just near you. He is with
you. And He doesnít stay confined between these walls where He
serves you. He comes to you
and he stays with you and He chooses not to leave you.
He is there when you walk your Christian walk.
He has come to be with you when youíre out with the guys and
face the opportunity either to confess Him or deny Him by what you say
and do. He is there when
you have a drink and another and another and if you get drunk, itís a
Christian to whom Jesus came to make His home who got drunk.
If you tell a filthy joke, make indecent suggestions, behave like
a boor, and follow your base desires; you donít do it alone.
No, Jesus is there with you.
Jesus, in whose name you are baptized and whose body and blood
you have received is there with you.
Or can we by choosing to live in darkness turn off the Light of
the world? No, brothers and
sisters in Christ, wherever we go and whatever we do our King goes with
us. And should we bring shame upon ourselves, we will shame the
King whose name we bear.
is why we come here to be served by Him.
This is why we make this our home, for here our Lord Jesus has
promised to be. And here He
is. He is wherever his Holy word is taught and confessed.
He is in the Christian home where the word of God is.
He is not absent. He
is present, really, and truly present.
Look! See Him!
He governs us by taking away our sin.
He rules over us by serving us with His gospel and sacraments.
He remains with us by giving us His Holy Spirit.
And so we put Him on. We
clothe ourselves in His pure white righteousness.
We stand ready to greet Him when He returns again in glory to
judge both the living and dead.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus