Advent 1: Ad Te Levavi (Mt 21:1–9)
INI + AMEN.
Advent. Coming. So it was in our text: Passover, so everyone came. To Jerusalem they came. Many from Galilee were there, and then a whirlwind of excitement—Jesus came, too! “The entire city was shaken” by His coming. Their hearts were afire with passion, their cries echoing throughout the hills of Jerusalem.
Distracted. The events swirling in our story distract us from the Lord, but the Lord isn’t in the “wind” of excitement, nor the “quaking” of Mt. Zion, nor the “fiery” passion of the crowd. Compared to the cacophony of “Hosannas,” Jesus’ Word is a “whisper,” a “still small voice.” But what He says, and what He tells His disciples to say—His Word—tells us all that we need to know about Him and His Coming.
((2. Who really is the Jesus guy?))
His Word—what He says and says for us to say—gives an answer to what all Jerusalem was asking after He entered the city: “Who is this?”
“Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Was the answer. For those from flyover Galilee—hometown hero. He’d stick it to the establishment—Roman and Religious. For those from big-city Jerusalem—troublesome hick, outsider. He’d upset the apple cart. A Prophet Jesus certainly was—but if only that, then He was a rash and foolish one who was committing suicide by entering Jerusalem. He was either a sorry excuse of a prophet or someone infinitely more than a prophet.
Jesus is a king—a king who has complete possession and rule over all things. He’d just raised Lazarus from the dead, and this Lord of life and death sends two to get a donkey and her never-ridden colt. They’re just supposed to take them! It’s theft for anyone but God, who owns all things. God can’t steal. We do that, and we’ve got funny ideas about what’s “mine.” (As if it’s mine when I can only have it for a little while.) “The Lord needs them.” That’s that. Can’t argue with the Lord when He claims a donkey He made.
So, here’s more-than-a-prophet Jesus—sovereign King who owns all things, knows all things. He told them just how and where to find that donkey and colt. Did the same thing later that week when preparing the Passover Meal. Jesus is almighty King—almighty, all-knowing God.
But this Jesus enters His own city on another man’s donkey—not a war horse. He rides the animal of peace as the final and true man and Prince of peace. Jesus’ throne isn’t His by shedding other people’s blood but by shedding His own blood. He won’t destroy but weeps over the city that will crucify Him. If she would receive Him, she’d have His peace. God wanted to gather her under His wings like a hen gathers chicks, but she would not. He came to His own, but His own would not receive Him. God’s wings were rejected, and so she got the talons of the Roman eagle, as we heard a few weeks ago.
“Here she receives Him,” you might say. Yes, but only for a time. It was the welcome crowd, cheering all those who came for passover. Galilean pilgrims hailing the Galilean prophet. They only saw Jesus the miracle worker. They were a fickle mob. “Hosanna” on Sunday. “Crucify Him” on Friday. That mob isn’t the Kingdom of God.
((1. What does this mean for you?))
That’s what the crowd thought of this Jesus fellow. One day praise; another day rejection, condemnation, and death. So, what does this all mean for you? Who this Jesus guy really is matters for you because, even though He comes as the King and God of Israel, His Kingdom is not of this world. It’s not about a nation in the middle east. God does not care about that place—nor any nation to set up a kingdom. Today, Christ is greeted as a king by a crowd and mob, but their excitement and shouting aren’t anywhere close to the heart of His Kingdom.
It’s not an earthly kingdom with boarders, put on a map, defended with a sword. His kingdom is the people, but not the people in a crowd. He never deals with us by the dozen or thousand, even 10,000s. Christ deals with individuals, and there we have value.
You see, Jesus doesn’t enter a CITY as king. He enters your hearts, one at a time. He knows all your background, all your twists and problems. He even knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows you like He knew that donkey and colt.
He would ride into your heart, and He won’t force entry. He’ll weep over the city of your heart. He’d gather you and me, but we would not. We’re too busy with our lives: the family, the farm, the big game. He would speak, but we shut the Bible—it gathers dust. We look for the wrong things from Jesus—a King who would fix our problems, motivate us to a better life. But His kingdom is not of this world.
But He’s still your King and God. He would have us praise Him with true hosannas. Holy “hosannas” and a holy “blessed is He who comes”—that’s what we sing as Jesus comes to us, riding in “meek and lowly” with bread and wine to bring you His body and His blood to enter your heart, purify it, and rule there. And so He saves you, but if He rules, He rules alone: far above anyone or anything in this life.
Jesus wants His love to rule in every house and shop, in every alley and gutter in the city of your heart. “His yoke is easy and His burden light.” We were created for that yoke. Without it a car without a battery. Under Christ, baptized into Him, we are, then, our true selves. Then you’re a real person, a real individual, for Christ deals with you individually, alone—just you.
Undistracted. That’s us. As the baptized our ears are fixed on Jesus, what He says. Our eyes on what He does. Who is He? And what’s it matter to you? Well, He’s Jesus. He’s your King. Yes,
JESUS, YOUR KING, COMES TO SAVE.
You’re not a nameless, faceless nobody in a sea of millions. So great was His love for you, just you, that the Son of God rode in on Passover, the way of sorrows and cross, that you would be His, and He King of your heart. That’s your salvation, freedom, and eternal life.
He once had need of a donkey; so also He needs you and me, too.
INI + AMEN.