Tuesday, December 5, 2017

“Hosanna! Come Lord Jesus.”

Sermon for Advent 1B, preached by the Rev. Daniel M. Ulrich on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

“[T]hose who went before and those who followed [Jesus] were shouting, ‘Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our Father David!  Hosanna in the highest’” (Mk 1:9-10).
    The first Sunday in Advent always feels like a confusion of time.  We want to look forward to Jesus’ coming at His birth and yet the Epistle reading looks forward to His coming on the Last Day.  Instead of hearing about Jesus’ birth, we hear about His entry into Jerusalem to die.  On this one Sunday we contemplate three periods of time: past, present and future; and yet in each one, the prayer of the faithful, our prayer, is the same: Hosanna! Come Lord Jesus!
    When Jesus rode into Jerusalem He was greeted with the word “hosanna.”  The people shouted and sang it as praise; they proclaimed blessings on Christ.  They welcomed their Savior in the most appropriate way possible because the word “hosanna” means “save us, we pray.”  The people called out to the Lord for salvation God promised to give them.
    From the very beginning, God promised to send His Savior, the seed of the woman who would crush Satan’s head (Gen 3:15).  The sin and death he brought into the world, the sin and death we still suffer from, our sin and our death, all would be overcome by the Messiah and He would give us His righteousness, life, and salvation. 
    God repeated this promise throughout the centuries.  He proclaimed it through words and signs.  He sent prophets like Isaiah and Zechariah to speak it.  Zechariah announced “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.  Shout aloud O daughter of Jerusalem.  Behold your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech 9:9).  Christ was fulfilling this specific prophecy as He rode into Jerusalem to the shouts of the people.  And on that Friday, He would answer their prayer of hosanna.  On Good Friday, Christ was going to save them, to save you, with His death, for salvation only comes through Christ’s death. 
    This too was foretold of in the beginning.  When God promised that the seed of the woman would crush Satan’s head, He also said the Messiah would be struck   He would suffer.  God showed this truth through the sacrifices of old. 
    When God made clothes for our first parents, it required a sacrifice, blood had to be spilt.  At the first Passover in Egypt, a lamb had to be sacrificed and its blood painted on the doorposts in order to spare the people inside the angel of death.  And at the Tabernacle and then the temple, sacrifices were made to atone for the people’s sins.  All of this was God ordained to show how He would save His people...through the sacrificial death of His Son. 
    God answered His people’s prayer for salvation.  Christ answered the cries of hosanna when He was born to die.  The Son of God became man.  Born to the Virgin Mary, He is the Seed of the woman.  He came as a child, grew and lived the perfect life that you and I can’t so that He could sacrifice His life on the cross, dying for your sin, for your forgiveness, so that you’d be freed from sin and death and have everlasting life.  This life and salvation you have now.
    Just as the people on Palm Sunday shouted “hosanna,” we pray it now.  We pray “save us now.”  We pray “come Lord Jesus, come and give to us Your salvation.”
    This is something that we literally do every Sunday in the service of the Sacrament.  In the Sanctus, in the song Holy, Holy, Holy, we sing “Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is He, blessed is He, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.”  In this song we are singing “Save us, we pray.  Come to us today and give us your salvation.”  This prayerful song your Savior answers without delay. 
    Christ comes to you today and He gives you salvation.  He comes in His Word and Sacraments.  He’s present in His means of grace, delivering to you His forgiveness, life, and salvation. 
    The forgiveness Christ won on the cross on Good Friday is yours today.  You’ve received it in the waters of Baptism.  You’ve received it in the words of Absolution spoken by God’s pastors.  And you receive it in the Lord’s Supper as you eat and drink the body and blood that Christ sacrificed for you.  And with this forgiveness comes life and salvation.
    Forgiveness removes the guilt of your sin and with it the death that comes because of your sin.  With the guilt of sin and its death removed by Christ, you receive His gifts of life and salvation.  These are yours by grace, freely given to you.  These are yours right now, and you’ll see them in full when Christ comes again on the Last Day at His second coming. 
    We pray for this second coming.  We pray: “Hosanna! Save us now.  Come Lord Jesus.”  We pray this way because although we have life and salvation, we don’t see it in full.  Instead, we see sin.  We see all sorts of pain and suffering.  We see death.  With faith we rightly want our Savior to come and take us away from this, away from this valley of sorrow to be with Him in heaven.
    This is the now and not yet reality of our salvation in Christ.  Everlasting life and salvation are ours now, at this very moment.  But this life isn’t fully seen.    But even in the midst of sin and death, the promise of Christ’s second coming is a certain and true as the promise of His first coming. 
    Christ achieved your salvation by coming to you and dying on the cross.  This salvation will be fully seen at His second coming.  And as you and I wait for that day, our Lord continues to come to us in His Word and Sacrament, sustaining us in faith. 
    We live in the now and not yet, the time between our Lord’s first and second coming.  During this time our constant prayer is the same as those on the first Palm Sunday.  We pray “Hosanna! Come Lord Jesus!”  And our Lord answers this prayer.  He answered it first in His incarnation, coming to us in the flesh so that He could die for our salvation.  He answers it now, coming to us in His Word and Sacrament, giving us His forgiveness, life, and salvation.  And He will answer it again when He comes to us at the last, fully revealing His salvation.  In Jesus’ name...Amen.  


John Joseph Flanagan said...
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Anonymous said...

Numbers 24:17
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth.