Scripture alone, Faith alone, Grace alone.

First Sunday Advent

Advent 1.17 “The Advent of our King” Mark 11:1-10

OK, I admit, I never get tired of this one, even though it comes up a lot. You’re maybe wondering, “Wait, why do we have the Palm Sunday Gospel for today? It’s not Palm Sunday is it?” Well, no; but it is the Gospel that tells the Advent of our King into His royal city, how it happens, once and again, because today is the real 1st Sunday in Advent (it wasn’t last week as some of our daughter churches seem to imagine). And how can you ever tire of seeing Jesus ride into the City as King, or weary of learning anew that the Jedi mind trick is apparently a real thing that George Lucas ripped off from the Scriptures!

Yes! This is wonderful to me. Jesus is entering Jerusalem to take His crown (by way of the cross) and reign. A crowd has gathered (John tells us in his Gospel that, actually, many of them had gathered because they’d heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead just the week before and were hoping to see more stuff like that—in other words, they were just there for the Bud Light—dilly, dilly!). And Jesus needs something to ride, something suitable for the King, great David’s Greater Son. But He doesn’t own any transportation of His own. He walks everywhere or uses public, or in this case, borrowed transport. I reference this frequently when my daughter complains that she doesn’t have a car like her friends. She does not seem to delight in this opportunity to emulate our Lord quite as much as I do…

Anyway, Jesus sends two disciples into town and tells them they will see a colt (the foal of a donkey as Matthew elaborates) tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it, and bring it, the Lord commands, and if anyone goes, “Hey, hey! Whoa! That’s my colt! What are you doing with it!?” Just go (with a two-finger wave) “The Lord has need of it.” And right away, they will calm down and let you take it. “These are not the droids you’re looking for. You can let these pass…” Jedi mind trick. Beautiful, right?

Oh, I know some people say “Well, Jesus wouldn’t steal like that! It’s not right! Probably He arranged this in advance with friends.” Well, for one thing, it doesn’t say anything about that in the Scriptures. And for another, if He’d arranged it in advance why would they go, “Hey, hey! Whoa, what are you doing, taking the colt?” Right? Right. It seems apparent that the right to use the Jedi mind trick to borrow transportation is restricted to Jesus’ specific instructions to do so. But it makes me very happy, just knowing that the servants of Christ have this right, in certain circumstances, just like I like knowing they can also call down fire from heaven under certain circumstance, and sic bears on miscreant children (even though the Apostles never get to do this, much to their chagrin). The day may come…

I don’t always sense that you love this as much as I love it, but that’s OK. I think it may grow on you. In heaven, we’ll have a better sense of humor and even more Jedi tricks! You know I love it because Jesus appears to be stealing. But that’s where you’re wrong, if you think that (also imagine how much Jesus riding the donkey increased its resale value on eBay!) Our idea of property rights is not the correct one. We think things belong to people because they have a title for the donkey, and have its state inspection up to date, and pay their property taxes on it. No…

Everything in this world belongs to God, because He made everything. Even our own bodies are really His, not ours. We have them on loan at His gracious ordaining. The colt and its mother were Jesus’ property, really, along with the city and the houses and everything because He is the King, the Divine King who made all things. Wonderful, true story, as an aside: Lancelot Andrewes, one of the lead translators of the King James Bible (also noted for general brilliance and sarcastic wit) was dining with King James himself and another bishop (who was just a toady, currying favor). King James asked what the two of them thought about the divine right of kings? Was this a biblical thing? Did King James have the right to take his subject’s property at his whim? The other bishop went: “Oh, yes, King! All that we have belongs to you and you may take it as you please!” The King turned to Andrewes (who was smirking) and said “Andrewes? What is your opinion?’ Andrewes said “I do not know, your majesty, whether you have a right to all your subjects’ property. But I do think that you can take his, because he offers it to you.”

Jesus does not make much use of this right of His as Divine King. He prefers the Jedi Mind Trick to get assent of an amusing sort (I think He did the same thing with the house where He ate the Last Supper, but that’s Gospel for another day). But that’s your first takeaway today: everything belongs to Jesus, even if He hardly ever makes use of this right, but uses it slyly, Jedi-like even; and then lets us go along thinking “we built that”, or “we own this”, etc. Don’t be fooled! All you have is Christ’s alone, on loan, “a trust, O Lord, from thee”.

Second takeaway: why the donkey’s colt anyway? Well, this is what King David and his sons rode around Jerusalem. The Bible never says why this was King David and Sons’ preferred transport, but it strongly hints that it was reverse snobbery. Just like David eschewed armor and the conventional weapons of warfare in killing Goliath, but just went out as a shepherd kid with a slingshot, so he seems to have carried this low-key, slacker, surfer-dude ethic into his monarchy. Instead of riding elephants, war horses, or armored limos, he rides a donkey or a mule, like hanging onto that decades old Subaru, just like the surfer-dudes do. It says “I don’t need the usual status symbols. My power and might come from a completely different source.”

And the crowd gets it. Riding the lowly donkey not only sends a message of peace, but also the message that the same hidden power of David belongs to Jesus. And that power is the power of the cross, because ultimately that’s where this ride is taking Jesus—to the cross, to die. And only after 3 days dead, in the grave, will He rise victorious for His disciples to see…

And here is the third and final takeaway: Jesus always comes to us like thisHumble, lowly, incognito, with power hidden from all eyes (save those of faith, born of Gospel Word and Sacrament!). Jesus does not come with mighty, persuasive proofs that apologists can argue us into with debaters’ tricks and reason and logic and facts and figures. No. He does not write a message in the stars that forces us to believe in Him. No. He does not come into our hearts with profound emotion, deep feeling that cannot be resisted. No. He comes always like this: humble, lowly, riding on a donkey’s colt. He comes not to coerce or cajole, but woos and wins by sharing His cross, that hidden power of His, with us.

As the King, so the Kingdom. Jesus is rarely glimpsed in the mega churches, the mainline piles, the imperial cathedrals, where the beautiful people flock. No, no. More usually, He’s found underground, by rebels, the Resistance. The Crucified King leaves us a pirate’s map of buried treasure… If you can’t see it, just close your eyes, listen: the Word of the Cross reveals a glory hidden from this world’s sight; and Peace, surpassing understanding, guards our hearts and minds in Christ our King. Amen.

Services

Advent Vespers –

Wednesday, 15 December 7:00 p.m.

17  December 2017

3rd Sunday Advent

8:30 Matins

11:00 Divine Service with Communion

9:45 – Sunday School and Adult Bible class

Classes for ages 3 and up

Advent Vespers – Wednesdays – 7:00 p.m.

December 6, 13, 20

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – DS w/Comm

7:00 p.m  24 December 2017

Christmas Day Service – DS w/Communion

11:00 a.m.  25 Christmas 2017

Location

Our Savior Lutheran Church is a confessional Lutheran church in Raleigh, North Carolina, belonging to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

We are located at: 1500 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27608.

For directions, use 742 Nash Street, Raleigh.