Devotion for December 5-7, 2017

And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.  And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.  And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”  –Mark 11:7-10

Advent is the beginning of a new church year and a preparatory time for Christmas. The traditional Gospel reading for the first Sunday in Advent is the account of Jesus coming into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This is not exactly the reading we’d expect to prepare us for Jesus’ birth.

And yet, Jesus doesn’t often do what we expect him to do.

As he enters into Jerusalem, just days before his crucifixion, Jesus doesn’t enter as a condemned criminal. Even though Jesus is about to rise from the grave and conquer death for us, Jesus doesn’t come as a military hero. Instead, Jesus comes as a servant riding upon a donkey.

Jesus also came into the world with great humility. The author of all creation doesn’t come into his creation with all the eyes of the world watching. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords isn’t born in a golden palace. Jesus is attended by angels in heaven, but his earthly attendants are a young virgin and her husband, shepherds, and barnyard animals. He is born anonymously without anyone watching or even caring.

Today, Jesus continues to come in humility. He doesn’t come to you on a donkey nor does he come to you wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Instead Jesus comes to you in Words—the Gospel (read in the Scriptures, sung in the hymns, preached in the sermon). Jesus comes to you in the waters of Baptism. Jesus comes to you in bread and wine, which is his body and blood. And the reason he comes to you is always the same—to forgive your sins, strengthen your faith, and fill you with his resurrection victory.

A day is coming when Jesus will return and he will not come in humility. The sky will roll up like a scroll, trumpets will blast and archangels will shout. All eyes will see Jesus returning, descending from the clouds. The dead will be raised and all people will be judged. For the wicked, this is a day of great terror; but for you who have faith this is a day of great joy. Your salvation has come to fruition. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Prayer: Stir up your power, O Lord, and come, that by your protection we may be rescued form the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.