Advent 1 2022 – Ad Te Levavi (Mt 21, 1–9)

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οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔκραζον λέγοντες,

Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυίδ·

Εὐλογμένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ονόματι κυρίου·

Ὡσαννά ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.

᛭ INI ᛭

It’s a new church year. Christianity has its own calendar and schedule of doing things. There’s different holidays throughout and different seasons. It’s first holiday is St. Andrew, the Apostle, which is Wednesday. Its first season is Advent. Advent is from the Latin “Adventus” which means, “Arrival”, “Coming”, or “He comes”.

Advent always gets us back to the basics of the Christian faith. What’s Christianity and the Bible all about, anyway? Well, Advent 1 really makes that clear. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus is the Son of David and the eternal Son of God. He came down to earth to die for His people’s sins, shed His blood for them—for you!

Now, I hope to expand this “back to the basics” throughout this next church year at various points in my preaching and teaching. Be that as it may, Advent 1’s reading of Matthew 21:1–9 really helps us do that. It shows us how important Jesus is and really should be when we talk about any topic or teaching within Christianity or even any Scripture reading!

We see something very important happen in our Gospel reading today. It’s the verse I’ve highlighted for this sermon. Matthew 21:9, “οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔκραζον λέγοντες, ‘Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυίδ· Εὐλογμένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ονόματι κυρίου· Ὡσαννά ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.’” This verse reminds us that

WHEN JESUS ARRIVES, HE’S THE CENTER OF ATTENTION, BECAUSE HE’S COME TO SAVE.

(I. That’s how it was some 2,000 years ago.)

Palm Sunday makes it clear that WHEN JESUS ARRIVES, HE’S THE CENTER OF ATTENTION, BECAUSE HE’S COME TO SAVE. I say Palm Sunday because that’s what Matthew 21 is all about. Jesus arrives at Jerusalem for the last time before His crucifixion. When He comes, all eyes on Him. There are crowds ahead of Him, crowds behind Him, and Jesus is in the center of it all. Surrounded by people and surrounded by praises. “Hosanna!” “Hosanna” means “Please, save us!” That’s exactly why He came.

He was also the center of attention at His birth. The angels showed up to send the shepherds to Bethlehem, and when the Magi showed up, they weren’t satisfied until they were face to face with the Christ child. He was the focus because, well, listen to the angel tell us why: “Today a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.” (Lk 2) Named Jesus “for He will save His people from their sins.” (Mt 1)

When He finally did that saving, He also the center of attention. When He arrived at Calvary’s hill, He wasn’t just the focus of everything happening. He was in the center! “There they crucified Him, with two others, one here, onε there (ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐντεῦθεν) and Jesus in the middle.” He was also the center of salvation. For there all sins are paid for. “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them..” (2 Cor 5) “Making peace by the blood of His cross.” (Col 1)

(II. That’s how it is now.)

2,000 years ago, WHEN JESUS ARRIVED, HE WAS THE CENTER OF ATTENTION, BECAUSE HE’D COME TO SAVE. But that’s how it is now! He still comes. Still arrives. Still saves.

Well, it should continue to be this way. Paul’s Words in 1 Corinthians should still ring true in our day: “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Christ and His Spirit are always present when His Word is the “Word of the Cross” is preached. And that word of the Cross, the Gospel itself, that Christ was Crucified for you, well, it saves you!

Sadly for many Christians around the world, that message eventually gets put on the back burner. It’s eventually not the main focus. It’s merely the starting line. Preaching moves to what you need to do in your daily life or how God will make your dreams come true.

But for us, too. How often our daily conversation avoids Jesus and His salvation. We might generally talk about God or other things about morality or politics. Maybe we don’t talk much about Jesus at all. “Whoever confesses Me before others,” Jesus says, “I will confess before My Father who is in heaven.” We confess that He is saved us, that He is the crucified one, that when He comes, He comes to save.

Our Church architecture and liturgy confess this truth: WHEN JESUS ARRIVES, HE’S THE CENTER OF ATTENTION, BECAUSE HE’S COME TO SAVE. Just look at our how our church building is designed. It was a delusion in more recent history that such things don’t actually matter. (Sure architecture doesn’t save you, but it does teach you.) You can walk in here and know the most important thing. It dominates the room. It’s the Altar. The giant pictures of Jesus are just icing on the cake.

The Altar is where Jesus comes to give us His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. And so when He is present, when He’s arrived to give us this gift, that’s why we sing, like they did in Jerusalem: “Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” Here, too, there are “crowds that are before Him and crowds following after Him.” Your forefather designed this space to say, when He is there on the Altar, we the saints gather here following Him, and the saints triumphant gather around the other side.

This is also why Good Shepherd has started daily devotions. To make Jesus the center of attention, not just learning things. But hearing, praying, and singing things. The Congregation at Prayer seeks to do the same thing in your house with your family each and every day.

(III. That’s how it will be forever.)

WHEN JESUS ARRIVES, HE’S THE CENTER OF ATTENTION, BECAUSE HE’S COME TO SAVE.

And He will be the center of attention forever. That’s how it’s revealed to John in Revelation. There is God who sits on the throne, the Lamb is with Him on the throne, and the Spirit is there, too. But Jesus is the Lamb who eternally looks as if He’s been slain. Jesus is eternally and forever the crucified one. You will praise and see Him forever that way.

(Conclusion.)

᛭ INI ᛭

Total Words:    1099
Outline Words:46
Final Words:    1053

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