Advent 1—Ad Te Levavi (Mt 21, 1–9)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

The crowds who were preceding Him and following cried out, “Hosanna!”

INI AMEN.

Crowds in front of Him. Crowds behind Him. Jesus at the center. Of course He was! Jesus is always where the action’s at. That’s what you see throughout the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus at the heart of action.

It’s why He came! But He didn’t just come to be the center of attention. He came because He was promised to come. He promised to come! He used Jeremiah to deliver that promise.

He also came because He needed to come. He needed to come and save His people, all people, you and me. The LORD came and had a heartbeat, became a human being to save you.

But the Lord still comes. He’s the coming Lord. He came, He comes, and He will come again. “The one who was and is and is to come, the Almighty”—that’s Jesus. He’s where the action’s at in our lives, too! He’s at the center. The beating heart of your righteousness and love.

Crowds in front of Him. Crowds behind Him. Jesus at the center. That’s how it was when Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem for the last time. But it’s not just then. It’s now. It’s what will be. The Advent season is all about that. Advent means “He comes,” and so the season about Jesus’ coming reminds us every year, until He comes again, that

JESUS IS AT THE HEART OF IT ALL.

((I. Jesus is the heart of your Scriptures.))

Jesus is the heart of your Scriptures. He fulfills them! We heard that twice in Matthew. “This happened to fulfill what was preached through the prophet. Not just one prophet—two! Mostly Zechariah 9, but also echoed by Isaiah in Isaiah 61. Also promised in Psalm 118: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.”

The Lord Jesus doesn’t just fulfill the Scriptures, as if they’re simple some to do list. No, they are all about Him! They are promises about Jesus, they talk about Him, they tell us about what He would do. Heard that in Jeremiah today—twice! “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD.”

Without Jesus the Bible is a crumbling mess of contradictory to dos for you and for me. Jesus is heart of your Bible, the Foundation, the Bedrock, the Cornerstone, “the Stone which the builders reject.” (Psalm 118, again.)

The Bible, which is God’s Word, is a Gift from God the Holy Spirit. It’s a Gift He caused to be written FOR YOU. He moved Zechariah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Paul, and all the rest, taking their skills and talents and words as His own in order to tell you about Jesus. The Bible is FOR you, but it’s not primarily ABOUT you.

Jesus is the heart of the Scriptures—both Old and New Testaments. They tell you about Him and what He has done for you to save you. They also tell about your need for Him to save you. When God’s Word tells you what you should do—and you should!—it’s proclaiming your need for Jesus to save you. “Through the Law comes knowledge of sin.” And, since JESUS IS AT THE HEART OF IT ALL, they also tell you that He has saved you.

((II. Jesus is the heart of your salvation.))

Yes, it’s Jesus that saved you. Him ALONE. JESUS IS AT THE HEART OF IT ALL, and that means Jesus is the heart of your salvation.

That’s what the Lord promised through Jeremiah. “In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely.” Yahweh’s “Righteous Branch” will save Judah. He will make Israel to dwell securely. He will lead “the offspring of the house of Israel from the north country and all the countries where He had driven them.” Jesus, “born from the house and lineage of David,” does it.

Jesus delivers on that promise ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις. There Jesus reigns as King. Reigns from His cross, His throne. “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” That’s why He arrived in Matthew 21. He journeyed εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα as true King. “Look, your King comes!” “Riding on a donkey.” “Humble He comes.” “Humbling Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

There Jesus keeps His Word! His Word given through Jeremiah. “He will lead the offspring of the house of Israel from the north county and from all the countries where He’d driven them.” For as Jesus promises in John 12, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to Myself.” At Calvary, there Jesus is the true “hosanna” King, the true King who saves. Saves you. There He sheds His blood for you, for the forgiveness of your sins.

Jesus is Your Savior who comes in the name of the LORD, not just εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα but εἰς Βρέμενα. Then and now Jesus comes. He’s the heart of your salvation. Not just salvation accomplished, but salvation delivered. He came, and comes now. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest!” “My body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Then and now, JESUS IS AT THE HEART OF IT ALL, the heart of your salvation—accomplished and delivered.

((III. Jesus is the heart of your righteousness and love.))

But the Lord Jesus isn’t done yet. Always more with the Lord. Remember, He’s wherever the action’s at. He’s even there in our daily lives! He’s the heart of our salvation, but He’s also the heart of our righteousness and love. Makes sense. He’s AT THE HEART OF IT ALL.

Jesus is the heart of your righteousness—HE IS YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS! “This is the name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians: “He became for us wisdom from God and righteousness and redemption.” He is your “redemption,” salvation with God, but He’s also your good standing with God. Your “righteousness.” Are you right with God? Yes! Because of Jesus, Jesus alone. Not because of what you do.

But what about what you do? What you do for others? Jesus is at the heart of that, too! As Paul also says, “He became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification.” Jesus is at the heart of our sanctification, our holiness, our good works for others. He’s at the heart of our fervent love for everyone we meet in our daily lives.

He’s at the heart of that love because Jesus Himself is love! “God is love,” John says in 1 John and Jesus is God and so Jesus is love. He is love put on display, hung up, at the Cross. For “God so loved the world that He gave up His only begotten Son.” Gave Him up unto death on the cross.

Jesus is the beating heart of your love for those around because it’s not just your love for others that you have to drum up yourself. “It is no longer you who live but Christ who lives in you, and the life you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself up for you.” That’s what Paul says. St. Paul also says, “Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

So also today in Romans: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” And you are so clothed with the love that cherished all those commandments for you. You were “clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ” in Holy Baptism, “clothed with the armor of light.” His love given you, in the forgiveness of your sins, and that love works on you, in you, through you—the Lord Jesus does. Loving, serving, forgiving those around you.

Through Jesus living in you, and you being clothed with Him in Baptism, you’re saved, righteous before God, and you also love those around you. In your various callings as “father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker,” citizen, neighbor, fellow congregation member, school association member. In those ways you’re caring for, loving, and even forgiving those around you, well, Jesus is using you, yes you!—to do it—called you to it in Baptism. He strengthens you towards it in the forgiveness He delivers through His Supper where He gives you His body and blood to eat and to drink. There you are “strengthened constantly to serve [your Heavenly Father]” in the serving of those people He’s put in your life!

((Conclusion.))

Crowds in front of Him. Crowds behind Him. Jesus at the center. Of course He was! That’s how it was when Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem for the last time. But it’s not just then. It’s now. Jesus is wherever the action’s at! JESUS IS AT THE HEART OF IT ALL.

He’s at the heart of the Scriptures, your Bible. In all its pages you’re either told about Him and His salvation for you or your need for Him to save you. (Law and Gospel.) He’s the beating heart of your salvation, because His heart stopped beating for you. Death. Then beating again! Raised from the dead. FOR YOU. He’s the heart of your righteousness and love too! He is your righteousness, He your love. “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” “God is love.”

JESUS IS AT THE HEART OF IT ALL. He’s where the action’s at: in every Bible story, at Jerusalem and Calvary, and even in your daily loving those around you. And when He comes again in glory—more on that next week—well, it will be that way again. Crowds of people, crowds of angels all around Him, around His and His Father’s throne. JESUS AT THE HEART OF IT ALL. Foretaste of that today: as we come to eat and drink, “angels, archangels, and everyone else in heaven,” join us, but at the center, the heart of action: JESUS—body and blood—FOR YOU.

INI + AMEN.

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