Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent 1 2013 Midweek Homily

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor” (Lk. 4:4)

The season of advent is not a time to sugarcoat things.  We live in a fallen world.  All is not well.  And I’m not just talking about shoveling out our cars and the trouble of salting our walkways.  Many of us are suffering.  Some of us are suffering from extraordinary loss.  Our health is failing.  Perhaps most of us are suffering from some sort of chronic pain.  Not just physical pain but also emotional.  And no amount of medication can really truly fix what ails us all.  There are real assaults of satan that seek to destroy our faith and the faith of those we love.  We are tempted, troubled, and tainted by sin.     

Advent is really a time to take inventory over our lives and recognize the reality that not all is well.  Some of our children have renounced their baptisms and are no longer present in Christ’s church.  And we pray for them.  But we also pray ourselves.  Our lives are not hallmark specials.          

This past Sunday we heard the cries of the crowds of Jerusalem.  They watched their Savior ride into Jerusalem on a donkey – a beast of burden.  They cried out Hosanna…Hosanna…Hosanna in the highest.  Hosanna simply means save us now.  Come quickly and save us.       

Advent – the coming of Christ is not for those who love their lives.  The Gospel and the Christian religion is not for those who are confident, self-assured, and happy with themselves.  Jesus himself said whoever loves his life will lose it and whoever hates his life for my sake will find it.  The Gospel is for those who know they are in darkness.  Christ is for those who know they are lost and damned.  He is for those who desperately desire to be saved – and know they are helpless.    

Tonight Jesus opens up the holy scrolls of the book of Isaiah and reads a prophecy about himself.  I have come to preach good news to the poor.  I have come to heal the broken-hearted.  I am here to proclaim liberty to the captives – those who feel trapped and burdened by their sins.  I have come to give sight to the blind and give liberty for all those who are oppressed – oppressed by demons, depression, and despair.  Jesus reads Isaiah to show that he is the one to whom all the Scriptures point.

The promised Son of God, is now here.  The seed of the woman promised to Adam and Eve.  The sacrifice for sin that would crush the serpents head.  The Savior spoken of by Noah, Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Joseph.  The God of Moses.  The long await Savior in the flesh - born of Mary – predicted by Isaiah and all the prophets which bear witness to him.  Now he is come.  He will die for sins.  Destroy death.  Restore life.            

Jesus appeared at Nazareth in our reading to proclaim that the era of God’s salvation is breaking in with him.  But the people are evil.  They want wondrous deeds instead.  They want power.  They want to drive out the Romans.  They want results.  They prefer darkness to light.  For them, Jesus does not measure up.  He is not doing what they want him to do.           

Jesus preaches the Gospel to the religious crowds and they reject him.  People are angry.  He is not the Messiah they want.  He talks too much about sin.  He stirs the pot.  He ruffles too many feathers.  He calls the people to repentance.  And several verses later the crowds rise up and drive Jesus to the outskirts of town – to a cliff.  They try to grab him and throw his body over the cliff but somehow he is able to escape.

The beginning of Jesus public ministry shown here tonight is really a foreshadowing of what’s to come.  Angry mobs will hunt Jesus down his whole ministry and eventually they will get the best of him.  He will be handed over to be crucified.  The same child born in a wooden manger will be tied to a wooden post and beaten for your sins.  He will wear the yoke of man’s rebellion against God on his back.  His mother Mary’s heart will be pierced and her Son will bleed for sins he did not commit.  He will carry the wood of the cross to make a fiery altar that Isaac escaped from.  The ram caught in the thicket has arrived.  He is caught in a crown of thorns.  And there is no escape.       

The father offers up his Son.  And the Son, willingly goes.  Sins are paid for.  And the fiery wrath of God is poured out.  Our Jesus drinks vinegar from the cross and gives up his last breath of love.  Payment is made.  Satisfaction is complete.  Justice is done.  The Father raises the Son from the dead to give us all what we need.  Comfort for troubled consciences.  Drink for dry and tired souls. 

The Gospel is for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  This God is for the poor in spirit who long to be rich with the righteousness of Christ.  God is only for the broken.  He is only for the spiritually crippled.      

God is for those who are oppressed and afflicted.  He is for those who are deeply troubled by their sins. 

The Kingdom of God has its arrival in Jesus.  Jesus is coming.  And the first words out of his mouth are “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is here.”  The Kingdom of God comes through preaching, teaching, and baptizing.    It comes by His Word and Sacraments. 

God’s way is a donkey sort of way.  An unexpected way.  A humble way.  A preacher, a word, a pulpit and a promise.  God’s Kingdom comes among us.  A congregation of dying sinners but also a congregation of living saints.      

There is no salvation in anyone but him.  There is no darkness in your life which Jesus himself does not know.  He too knows betrayal, emotional anguish, he knows despair and sorrow.  He too knows what it’s like to be rejected by his own children.  But his love for you remains the same.  God cannot deny his love for you.  Jesus Christ remains the same, yesterday, today and forever    

Jesus enters into Jerusalem this week and tonight he tells us that he is the long awaited Messiah.  He is our Savior.  A real savior who brings health, fortune, and happiness through the forgiveness of sins and the promise of His abiding presence.  He alone is the light that disperses all the darkness that surround us.  He lifts the clouds of sadness that covers us. He is the light of the world.  And He is coming.  Therefore our prayer is.  Come Lord Jesus.  Come quickly.  In the name of Jesus.  Amen.      

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