Title: The blessed Jesus and his coming is your salvation!
Text: Matt. 21:1-11
10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
There’s a story of a New York City businessman who decided to avoid a $20 service charge by replacing a fluorescent light himself. After he had brought a new light into his office and put it in place, he decided to get rid of the old tube by throwing it in the trash can near his subway stop.
That night he got on the subway holding the seven-foot light vertically, with one end resting on the floor of the car. As the train became more crowded other passengers took hold of the tube, assuming it was a stanchion. By the time the man reached his stop, he simply removed his hand and exited the car, leaving the other passengers gripping the fluorescent tube!
Have you ever been startled or surprised? Well, you can imagine the look of surprise on some of those other passengers on the subway when they finally reached their destination and realized what they held in their hands!
The stirring up of the whole city, as Jesus entered Jerusalem, and the surprise and wonder of their cries of - “Who is this?” - brought the crowds in the city to proclaim that, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!” It also brings to mind as we begin this Advent season that:
True thanksgiving is found in Christ’s forgiveness!
Surprise and wonder and stirring are all good descriptions of the anticipation that accompany us all as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child. With the beginning of Advent the focus is on the baby Jesus as you and I together watch, as our first advent banner reminds us.
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The coming of Jesus into the city was prophesied by Zechariah the prophet and was now being fulfilled. Some in the city wondered who this is. That Jesus came in humbly, on the colt the foal of a donkey and not as the Messianic King who would come to rule this earthly kingdom was a different entrance than most expected.
Though He was welcomed with; “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” as He traveled over the cloaks and palm branches that had been spread on the road in honor of his arrival, how quickly this joy would turn to despair and doubt and hatred for this humble man who came as the baby king to reconcile and restore the relationship between God and man.
Anticipating the “Holidays” as it is called in the retail world can bring grief for many. Shopping and buying gifts for those we love can become less loving and more stressful and you may find yourself being led away from the manger … or even walking and running away of your own accord.
What you seek, at this time of year, may be different than what the Lord desires you to receive. Hope in the holidays may blind you of the hope of the Christ child and the true gift his coming brings. It may be well intentioned relatives, friends, and coworkers, X boxes, holiday hours or advertizing or it may be sadness in the hope for the holidays that never comes … or a family divided by divorce and simply broken in grief. In this broken world death can be very close and life a precious gift.
2-1/2 year old Michelle Funk fell into a creek swollen by runoff from the winter snowpack near her home in Salt Lake City. Her brother saw the accident and called their mother, who searched for Michelle before calling, 911.
Within eighteen minutes, rescue workers began a search. When they found no trace of the girl, they reduced the outflow from a reservoir that feeds the creek. As the water level dropped, rescuers saw the child's arm sticking out of the water. She was wedged against a rock, and there was no evidence of an air pocket.
When rescuers finally pulled her from the water, 62 minutes after her mother's call, she was very cold and blue. She had no pulse and was not breathing. Her pupils were fixed and widely dilated, as they would be with severe brain damage or death. A monitor detected no heartbeat.
Nevertheless, rescue workers began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, forcing air into her lungs and blood throughout her body. They continued it in a helicopter ambulance that flew her to the hospital …
As death loomed there was also hope. Hope in re-warming from the hypothermia so as to restore her life … but how far should they go?
In the operating room, the doctors delicately inserted tubes into the narrow blood vessels of the child's groin and connected the tubes to the machine. It began pumping, and slowly her temperature began to rise.
When it reached 77 degrees Fahrenheit, she gasped. Then the doctors detected a faint heart beat. After 53 minutes of re-warming, Michelle was removed from the machine and sent to an intensive care unit. As the days went on, Michelle's brain activity showed steady improvement. After two weeks, she smiled when she heard her parents enter the hospital room. After three weeks she whispered a few words, and by four weeks she used four-word phrases and sat up for 10 seconds.
By the time she left the hospital, more than two months after the accident, she talked at the level of a 3-year-old and her motor skills were normal, except for a slight tremor in her hands that soon disappeared.
Where death was a certainty … we see a child, hope and newness of life. Through the God given talents of the “wise men and women” headed by Dr. Robert G. Bolte at the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah … life from certain death was given back to a family in despair.
In the midst of death, despair and all that the world can bring upon you there is hope because:
The blessed Jesus, the Christ child and his coming, is your salvation!
Hope is not a blind hope but a hope understood and reasoned in faith. It is a hope from God’s own hands given as a promise in his word and brought to life by the Holy Spirit through the word proclaimed and sacraments given and received. Life re-warmed, so to speak, is life not rekindled but … life restored, born from above, born from death itself as we all have been born dead in trespass and sin. (Eph. 2:1)
But Paul comforts in his words to the Romans today:
11 Besides this you know the time … that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
The hope for you and me is the anticipation of the child. But not just any child … for this child is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus Christ himself! This hope in Him is not something you seek out, look for or find but it is a hope given from God to a lost world covered in sin by the joyful coming of a babe … in a manger.
Today we watch … knowing that salvation has come in the one who entered into the joyful celebration and triumphant entry into Jerusalem and also that He came as the babe … foretold of old and received in the manger stable because … there was no room ...
Christ has made room … for you. He has made room also for all the cares and trials that consume you. Everything that brings sadness He carries for you so you can see the joy in the simple things of life, a kind word, thanks given, a need met and hope for life forever in him.
The blessed Christ child and his coming is your salvation!
Don’t be surprised like those who thought they held a stanchion but instead held florescent tube in the subway train!
Christ has been promised and has come and will come again. The truth is evident by faith given in this blessed joy and eternal hope. You have this joy given in Christ and as you watch for His coming this Christmas remember that Christ has brought you from death to life. You were redeemed from the spiritual death given in birth and have been promised a place with Christ forever. Watch … and see by the working of the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ do all that He has promised.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.