He Comes To You Again With New Grace

Text: Matthew 21:1-9

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Approximately two-thousand years ago Christ came, just as it was promised from the days of old.  Since that time, Christ has continually come.  He has come to the Saints of the past and He has come to you this past church year as well.  He has come to literally billions of people, resulting in some receiving and others rejecting Him. 

Today though, as we begin a new church year at Zion Lutheran Church, we must ask ourselves this, “Are we certain on our first Sunday of Advent that Christ will continue to come to us?  In other words, could there be a chance that He is tired of coming to Zion Lutheran Church, for He has been coming here for the last 107 years?  Will He make it 108?  Could this last church year have been his last year; does He have enough endurance and determination to come yet again?  Is He worn-out because us?” 

No, this is impossible!  Dear friends, the Lord never tires of coming to us; He never tires of coming to you.  The reason why we know this?  Today’s Gospel reading shows that Christ’s coming to Jerusalem on a donkey is nothing else but a picture of His determined coming to mankind. 

Therefore, we can conclude that the Lord will come to us again this next year.  He will come to us because He has promised never to leave nor forsake us.  He will come to us, just like He came into Jerusalem.  He will come to us in the Word and Sacraments. 

All this said though, is it really that comforting to know that Jesus will come again this new church year?  In other words, Jesus is the holy, righteous, and perfect Son of God and we are sinners.  He is righteous; we are guilt.  He is holy; we are unclean.  He is perfect; we are flawed.  He is faithful; we are unfaithful. 

What am I getting at? 

Take a moment and consider all the failures of your marriages, parenting, jobs, and life this past year.  Consider all the failures of Zion Lutheran Church this past year, all the times of our unfaithfulness and sin.  Consider our inconsistent attendance, our sometimes cheap tithes and offerings, our grumbling, our gossip, and so forth.  I don’t say this to be mean, but simply state this because it is the reality.  Therefore, do we really want the Lord to come to us again in this new church year, especially since He is all-knowing?  

It seems to me, with all of our let downs, failures, sin, and unfaithfulness this last year as individuals and as a church, that we should ‘not’ want the Lord to come to us, but rather to stay away.  Due to our sin in thought, word, and deed, we should not want Jesus to come again to us this next year.  We should not want Him to bring us wrath and judgment that we deserve.  Who wants wrath for Christmas?  Not me!  Who wants judgment for Advent?  Not you!  You see, if He comes, He comes knowing all.  There is no escape, no hiding, no faking, no pretending; the Lord knows all and sees all.  Therefore, if He comes for us this next year, there is no escape and this means that we are going to have a miserable new church year. 

As we take a step back and consider our Gospel reading from this morning though, we must take note who this Jesus is; we must consider who will come to you and me in the new church year.  In other words, as we ponder today’s Gospel reading, need we fear Jesus coming to you and me in this next church year?  We do not.  Dear brothers and sisters, we should not fear.  You see, our Gospel reading from this morning tells us of Jesus, who is noble, worthy, almighty, all-knowing, yet also humble and gracious.  That is to say, Jesus did not come as a holy judge in our Gospel reading, armed with the dread of virtuous verdicts, but as a king, a gentle king, a king of grace and mercy. 

Can any truth be more comforting than this one on this Sunday of the new church year?  Jesus, who is all-knowing; “knows all the sins that we have ever committed, even those we have already forgotten; He knows all the sins that we will commit in the future; He knows exactly the condition of our heart.  He knows it better than we ourselves do; He knows our whole great sinful corruption.  Yet He does not want to know this as our Judge, [He does not want to know these things in order] . . . to punish our sins, but [rather] as our meek King of grace, [He wants to know our sins for He is the one] who comes to forgive them, blot them out, and hurl them into the depths of the sea.”[1]   

Indeed, the Lord knows all, which means that “He also knows all the trouble in which we are; all the worries that oppress us; all the unheard sighs that arise within us; [all of our fists of anger that are shook in defiance]; all the unseen tears we shed; all the wants of body and soul; all our scheming enemies who seek after our souls.  He knows . . . all the dangers, distresses, and afflictions . . . which we are going [towards].  And though He knows that all our trouble and dangers are caused first by our sins, He does not know all this in order to punish us through them as our enemy, to let us be overwhelmed by them without giving comfort or help.  He knows all this as our King of grace; He wants to come in order to fill our temporal and spiritual wants, to hear our prayers and sighs, to dry our tears, to turn aside dangers, to protect us against our enemies, to turn all evil to our good, and finally, to free us from all evil by a blessed death.”[2]

So, dear friends, take comfort, lift up your heads, for the Lord comes to us today and will come to us this next church year.  He will come to us as we begin 2016.  Do not be anxious, Christ comes as the great, wise, strong, mighty, yet humble King. 

But how exactly do we know that Christ has come to us and will continue to come to us in this next church year?  To put this in another way, to whom does He want to come and how does He promise to come? 

In our Gospel reading, Jesus came into Jerusalem; He came for all who were in that city.  Today, Jesus comes for His Church, which is where the Word and Sacraments are preached and administered.  And who makes up the church?  The church is that vast sea of sinners:   males, females, children, elderly, rebels, self-righteous narcissists, Democrats, Republicans, greedy executives, church goers, thieves, teachers, plumbers, farmers, adulterers, IRS agents, white collar workers, blue collar workers, uncompassionate jerks, truth compromisers, engineers, manufacturers, North Americans, Africans, Europeans, and Asians… all who are fully aware that Jesus came for sinners such as themselves.  Yes, Jesus comes for His church, no matter how wretched the church may be.  He comes for the church, those who have been caught up in foul choices and failed dreams.  

The point being: you find Christ’s church wherever there are sinners gathered around the Word and Sacraments; you find Christ coming wherever there are sinners gathered around the Word and Sacraments.   

And who is invited to the church?  Everybody is invited.  No matter who a person is and no matter their history and no matter how hopeless they may think things are, the call of the church and the call of the Lord is to be among those who hear Christ’s Word and receive His Sacraments.  Thus, the joyful news for you and for me and for our neighbor is that Jesus comes to Zion Lutheran Church in this new church year because the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments will continue from this pulpit and this altar.  This applies to you and to me and to our neighbors near and far.  Jesus comes through the Word and Sacraments into our ears, into our minds, into our hearts, and into our mouths.

“Today begins a new Church Year, in which Jesus your king comes to you again with new grace.  Oh, [receive] in new faith and new [eager] love!  Your aging [and tired] heart will then be new and young, filled through and through with spiritual spring air.”[3]

It is a new church year, cast off the garments of your sin, failures, and attempted self-righteousness; Christ tramples them underfoot and gives you the true garment of His righteousness.

“Behold the gates of the new Church Year are open.  Jesus our king has in this hour already come to us in His Word.  He is here!”[4]  He has also promised to come to you this next year as well, with grace and mercy and forgiveness and life. 

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Note: The outline and verbage of this sermon is highly indebted to C.F.W. Walther's Advent Sermon based off of Matthew 21:1-9.

[1] C.F.W. Walther, Walther’s Works, Gospel Sermons: Volume 1, trans. Donald E. Heck (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), 6.

[2] Ibid. 

[3] Ibid, 8.

[4] Ibid, 9.

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