Advent 1 2014, What does the Bible say about Christ?

Advent 1 2014

Matthew 21:1-11

[Each Sunday this year we will consider a different theme from the One Year Historic Lectionary Series.  This weeks’ theme is “What does the Bible say about Christ?”]

What does the Bible say about Christ?  The Prophet Zechariah’s words are a clear proclamation at the center of the Church’s preaching, “Behold, your King is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey.”[1]  Your king is coming!  Are you ready?  “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”[2]  Every passing moment is one step closer to the king’s coming.

That is what Advent means, “coming.”  In the Church we speak of the Christ’s threefold coming.  First He came by His conception by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary.  He put on flesh and was welcomed by angels, shepherds, and foreigners from the East.  He was announced and received as King, the promised Christ, “the anointed”, the Son of King David prophesied from old.  This king seated in a manger was not born for an earthly throne.  The crib and the cross are of the same wood.[3]  A wood of suffering.  He came to suffer with us.  He came to die.  He came to save.

Secondly, now by the Holy Spirit He comes to you.  He comes to you in Word, water, bread, and wine.  He comes as He promised, “Behold, I am with you until the end of the age.”[4]  He comes to save you.

Finally, He will come again, not humbly mounted on a donkey, and not in humble means of Word and Sacrament, but with sound of trumpet and in power and great might.  Enthroned at the right hand of God the Father, Christ Jesus, King of Kings, the Lamb who was slain will come and “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”[5]  “Behold, your king is coming to you!”[6]  The Christ comes to you in past, present, and future.  He comes to save.

To call Jesus the Christ is a confession of faith.  It is a statement of clear belief of who this man is.  “Christ” means “Anointed One” derived from the Hebrew word “Messiah”.  The Scriptures often add the definite article to emphasize this title is special.  Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.  Christ is not some general way to regard an office like that of chancellor, president, or prime minister.  There is only one man who will ever hold this office and it is His for all eternity.

When the people shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” they were giving tribute to the Christ of God.  “Hosanna” means “save us now”!  They knew that the Messiah who was coming was promised by God to save us.  Some said this ignorant to what that saving would mean.  Five days after this episode it would mean death for King Jesus and life for them.

When you call the Lord “Jesus Christ” then you are confessing that you believe that He is God’s anointed one, the promised Son of David.  You are saying that Jesus is the one promised by the prophets who will have the government placed upon his shoulders and whose kingdom will be established and upheld “with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”[7]  A veritable theological smorgasbord is packed into that single word Christ.  It confesses in short the promises of the Old Testament, their fulfillment in the New Testament, and the hope of the life of the world to come.

That being the case people should be careful how they use this title.  Agnostics and atheists should not in good conscience call Jesus the Christ.  For they reject the very idea of prophecy and the existence of God’s Anointed One.  Yet, they and many others likely have not given it any thought.  The title “Christ” is thrown around like a four-letter word among people who have no regard for what it truly confesses.  The comforting and nourishing feast of all that this name means is lost and wasted on them.

But, we should be even more concerned about how it is used among us.  This is among the titles and names of God revealed to us in the Scriptures.  The title Christ is to be hallowed, kept holy, as we confess in the Catechism.  “God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as children of God, also lead holy lives according to it.  Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven!  But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us.  Protect us from this, heavenly Father!”

This name is profaned not just when it’s used flippantly or neglected by ignorant people.  This name is profaned among us by false teaching, false belief, and sinful living.  Indeed, there is a grave warning here for preachers and teachers of the Word.  They profane the Christ when they teach contrary to the Word, but also you must be careful.  What teaching do you imbibe?  What books do you read?  What ideas do you allow to take root in your mind as you absorb them from the big and small screens?  Nothing is indifferent.  Everything teaches; even commercials.  Don’t conclude everything is purely benign entertainment.  Don’t excuse the false preachers to be simply good motivational speakers when they claim to speak for God.  Their doctrine profanes the name of Christ among us.

St. Paul reminds us we are called to “walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies, and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”[8]  We profane God’s name when we make provision for the flesh and gratify its desires.[9]  If you made an honest confession this morning you ought to have fleshed these things out a little further during the moment of silent reflection during Confession.  We are so good at thinking of how other’s profane God’s name, but what about me?  How have I sinned in thought, word and deed?  Lord, have mercy on us.

Yet, just here is where we also find comfort.  We confess our sins because we know that our King is coming.  He comes and we greet Him with our hosannas, asking Him to save us.  Indeed, the Christ came to forgive and save.  We know this, so we confess.

When Jesus was alone with His disciples He once asked them, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter made his bold confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[10]  Jesus went on to describe what it meant to be the Christ.  St. Matthew records, “From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples the He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”[11]  You might remember that Peter was incensed at this possibility, but he could not dissuade Jesus from His purpose.

This day Jesus asks you again, “Who do you say that I am?”  His entrance into the world is the decisive point of history.  It demands that everyone answer the question.  People can try to evade it, but it will catch up to them.  How about you?  Who do you say Jesus is?  Indeed, you’ve come to answer that He is the Christ of God.  The King who came to save you!

All kings are given to save and defend their people, but rarely do they die doing so.  Not a single one of our presidents has gone out to the battlefield while in office.  They have other men fight for them.  The Christ is a different king.  Jesus was born of royal blood not to sit safely on the throne or live in the palace in Jerusalem being served by many.  Instead He was cast out and hung on a tree to drip royal blood to ransom you from sin, death, and hell.  Enthroned on the cross a sign overhung Him, “King of the Jews.  One last profanation of God’s holy name that unwittingly proclaimed the truth, “Behold, your King comes to you!”  Your King has come and you are forgiven.  He comes to you now.  Christ comes under the bread and wine now body and blood even as we sing together, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is He, blessed is He, blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord.”[12]  In the name of Christ Jesus, amen!

[1] Zech. 9:9

[2] Rom. 13:11

[3] “Crib and cross are of the same wood.” was originally penned by Helmut Thielicke in his book.

[4] Matt. 28:20

[5] Phi. 2:10-11

[6] Matt. 21:5

[7] Isa. 9 & 11

[8] Rom. 13:11

[9] Rom. 13:12

[10] Mat. 16:15

[11] Mat. 16:21

[12] Lutheran Service Book, pg. 195, Sanctus, Divine Service Setting III

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