Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas. Therefore, there is something strange about our gospel for today. It is an account of Holy Week, Palm Sunday. Why do we begin preparing for Christmas with a story from the last week in the life of our Lord? Because what happened during Holy Week was the reason for Christmas.
What happened at Christmas is a mystery, the mystery of the Incarnation. God was made flesh and born of the Virgin Mary. How do we understand this? We can not understand. What are the attributes of God? He is almighty, omniscient, not limited to one place, but is a spirit that fills all heaven and earth. He created heaven and earth, existed before heaven and earth and has no beginning or end. He is the eternal God.
However, we believe and confess in the creed, He came down from heaven, was conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. His mother laid him in a manger because there was not room in the inn. And He grew up as the son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter The village of Nazareth still exists, as does Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
This was the first stage of the state of humiliation, which we talk about in the catechism class. The eternal Son of God set aside His absolute power to grow and live as a true man. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. But, the state of humiliation only began with the Incarnation. When Jesus began His public ministry, He was tempted by the devil in the desert with the temptations of the flesh and vainglory of this world.
Jesus suffered in the desert as a true man in preparation for Holy Week. His last entry into the city of Jerusalem was a "triumphal entry" according to the vainglory of this world.
ďAnd the crowd, which was very numerous, spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and laid them on the road. And the multitudes that went ahead and those that went behind cheered, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"
But, Jesus was still in His state of humiliation. The worst humiliation, after a life of humility and poverty, was to come as suffering and death on the cross. For the cross Jesus came down from heaven to be born of a virgin. Only on the cross did the state of humiliation change to the state of exaltation. In his death Jesus won the victory over death and the promise of eternal life for us. He also defeated the power of the devil and sin by His propitiatory sacrifice in our places. Then, He went down to hell to proclaim His victory to the imprisoned spirits, rose again on the third day, ascended to the right hand of God the Almighty Father and from there will come to judge the living and the dead.
His entry into Jerusalem, then, was not part of His exaltation. According to the flesh, Jesus was a descendant of David and according to the prophets the Messiah, the King of kings, would be a descendant of King David. But Jesus did not come to Jerusalem on a mission of conquest and judgment, but that of peace and reconciliation. That's why He was sitting on a donkey. At that time, the horse was the beast of war and conquest in which the king rode before his army. To be seated on a donkey meant the king comes to make a peace treaty.
In addition, Old Testament prophets prophesied this entry of Jesus. ďAll this was done to fulfill what was said by the prophet, who said: Say to the daughter of Zion: Behold, your King comes to you, meek, and sitting on an ass, and a colt, the son of a beast of burden."
People knew this prophecy, and because of that, the crowd shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David." However, they did not understand the meaning of the donkey, because the Messiah came to make a peace deal, a new covenant of reconciliation between God and the human race that will last forever, not for a while like the kingdoms and empires of this world . This new covenant would be made in the blood of the Lamb of God, who is Jesus Christ.
Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the King sitting on a donkey, also the prophecies of His suffering and death. But, there is something else. He will come again in glory to judge all nations. Advent means, "It is coming." In this season we remember the first coming of the Lord in humility and peace. We also anticipate His second coming in glory and judgment.
Before the second coming of the Lord, the church has the same mission: To proclaim the good news of the Incarnation of our Lord and His victory over the devil, death and sin. Before the final judgment there is time to repent of your sins and receive God's forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.
In a sense, the Advent season corresponds to the ministry of John the Baptist, when John prepared the people for the first coming of Christ with a call of repentance. When Jesus came to John to be baptized in the Jordan River, John shouted, "Here is the Man!" Also at Christmas, we will shout "He has arrived!" As on the final day.
Now, as in that day, we have joy and peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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