St. Paul's Lutheran Church
1st Sunday in Advent
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you, from God our Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our text for today’s message is the Gospel lesson, Luke 19:28-44.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Perspective #1 Jesus Rides In (3rd person with omniscience—the pulpit)
It had been a long journey. Much had happened…much was still to happen, but he had now arrived at the end of his road. The whole multitude of disciples were here. He sent two of them into the village ahead. He gave instructions. Detailed instructions concerning His advent.
His directions were followed to the letter. The colt was brought, and their cloaks were tossed onto it. He was set upon the animal. Some strew their own cloaks onto the road. He looked around at the throng. He was at the descent of the Mount of Olives. Near Bethany. People were shouting, they were rejoicing. They had seen many acts of power on the road. What would they think, though, in just a few days? What would their voices shout then?
The King had indeed come to the end of his journey. He was determined to come into His destiny…into the city of His destiny. He recalled with irony that King David had gone up this very road with tears and lamentations as he fled from his son Absalom…who wanted to kill him. Now the Son of David comes down to cries of “peace” and “glory”. But there are some who will cover their heads and weep when the Son of David completes his advent. But for now…the crowds adore Him.
Perspective #2 The Multitude (1st person collective/the Pharisee)
And the crowds shout: There he comes! Is it him…yes, it’s him! He’s coming! He’s coming! The King! The King! Blessed be the Coming One! Peace in heaven and glory on earth!
The King, though, he looks so somber. Sad, almost. He’s looking at all of us…intently. It’s a look that gives pause. Why isn’t he smiling on such a joyous day? We have seen this man do so much! So many works of great power and might. He is the king…he has to be! Who else could do what he’s done…and say what he’s said?
The crowd, indeed, rejoiced and the throng shouted with a great voice. They cried out things reserved for a coming King. Indeed, for a coming Messiah. Yet, not all were pleased. Not all rejoiced. If you panned the crowd…wait! There is a face! Stop it right there! A face of dismay. A face of displeasure. A face of incredulity.
(The Pharisee speaks) “Someone must stop them! They are making fools of themselves! They utter blasphemy! This man is no king, no Son of David, no Messiah! Besides, do they think the Romans will abide this? He is coming into his death of this keeps up!” The Pharisee looks around at the foolish throng. “There is only one end for a man like this…torture and death. I’ve seen it before. The people want a king, but they will get an execution. And it wouldn’t surprise me, if these fickle people are later calling out in the same great voice for his…crucifixion.”
“I must do something. I gotta say something…maybe he will stop them. (Shouting at the pulpit) Teacher! Teacher! Rebuke them! Rebuke them! They do not know what they are doing!” And Jesus turns and looks at him. “I tell you, if these fall silent, the stones will cry out.” The Pharisee was thunderstruck. “This coming can’t be stopped,” he thought. “And he knows what he’s doing.” And even the royal city…takes part in the coming coronation of the king.
Perspective #3 The City (1st person singular)
(The city speaks) What a proud day! The coming king! I have seen a lot of things. I’ve been through much turmoil, but today is day to be remembered. I was destroyed once. Wiped out. By the Babylonians. But I was rebuilt. Not really to my former glory, but… now look at me! A day of victory and triumph. I have been waiting for this. I am truly coming into my own as one of the great cities of the world. Nothing can stop me now.
The Romans serve a purpose for now. There’s a reason they’re here, in Jerusalem. I am a crucial location for commerce. A bridge between the East and the West. I am a strategic location for any nation. The city on a hill. Zion. And I have the temple…the glorious temple of God. I have a lot going for me. The city of David they call me! And here comes the king! Things are coming together. My people, my children! Hear them shouting! A day of triumph! A day of peace! A day of visitation! Savior of the Nations, come! Nothing can stop me…from becoming the greatest city in the world! This is the culmination of it all! A king, the people, and me! The city of David!
Perspective #4 Jesus Turns and Talks to the City (3rd person with omniscience/direct address)
“You! You…if you only knew what this day means…the things that make for peace.” He stopped on the road, his gaze boring into the city. “You are precious to me. You are the city of my destiny. The location of my visitation. It is right and fitting that it all takes place here. And how often have I gathered your children together. As a mother hen gathers her brood under her wings. But you were not willing! And now…judgement comes upon you! Don’t you see?”
He looked around at her (the city), and at the people. He was overcome with emotion. His voice became almost a whisper. “The things that make for peace! But they are hidden from you…but they are coming. The days will come upon you, when they will lay siege, they will encircle you and hem you in. They…your enemies…will tear you down. You…who are high on a hill…will be razed to the ground. There will be nothing left standing. Oh…you, the city of kings…the time of your visitation you do not know.”
Excursus: the Visitation
Visitation. The coming presence of one who has been absent, but is now here. The coming king visits His city. He visits the temple. Once, the location of the presence of God. But He cleanses the temple. He teaches at the temple. But the time of the temple is over. The time of the city is over. The visitor has come; the visitor has visited! The presence of God is found in this visitation and in the visitor. And the visitation of God has come in the Son of David. He is the King. And he visits in judgement. Against the sins of the crowd, the sins of the city, against the nations, against the sins of God’s people. He visits. But he also comes in visitation to save. Savior of the nations come.
He steps forth, the King, the Lord of All, he steps from His pure and kingly hall; God of God, yet fully man…his heroic, kingly course…ends in his visitation.
The Savior of the Nations is shuffled off to a hill outside the city. The crowds have spoken. The nations have condemned. The enemies of enemies are now friends. And they encircle him…him in on every side. He has been broken down and utterly torn apart. Their great voices, once shouting “Hosannas”, have prevailed with a death sentence…and they now mock him.
And above the kingly visitor on the hill, utterly surrounded, is an inscription: the King of the Jews.
Perspective #5 the Visited People Return with Great Joy
These are things that make for peace. (pause) Peace. A big word. It can mean many things. But peace is not just a laying down of arms, but this peace was forged through victory. For this peace, someone had to win. Peace is won through God of God yet fully man, coming in his visitation. He visited them personally, in the flesh, first a baby, then a man, finally a king killed. Peace proclaimed at his birth, peace won at his death. Not just a laying down of arms but a laying down of His life. But in all of this, His visitation—the proclamation of judgement, the victory over sin and Satan—all of this is won by the coming king. The king wins a final, eternal peace three days after his coronation death in resurrection. These are the things that make for peace.
You are a visited people. Visited by God through His Son Jesus Christ. Visited in mercy. Visited in forgiveness. Visited in His Spirit. Visited in the hope of eternal life. We shout with repentant joy for our coming king:
(sing) For You are the Father’s Son, who in flesh, the victory won. By Your mighty pow’r make whole, all our ills of flesh and soul.
This is what advent is about. The Son of God coming to visit His people. The Son of God coming again to restore all things. With peace and joy, we proclaim the advent of our king. The coming King to wipe away every tear and bring an eternal, everlasting peace. Blessed be the Coming King! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Hosanna to the Son of David.