“Behold, your king is coming to you, righteous and having salvation.” You sang it, but are you ready? Are you ready for the King’s visitation? Are you prepared for His great and glorious advent?
It is advent, you know. Not the “holiday season” or the pre-Christmas shopping season. Advent. From the Latin adventus meaning coming, arrival, appearance. Your King is coming to you, to you, righteous and having salvation. He’s coming to justify you, to sentence you innocent in His innocence. He’s coming to save you, to rescue you from sin, death, and devil. Are you ready for His advent? Have you stopped to consider it?
The color of Advent is purple, the color of royalty. Your King is coming. What would you do if you were expecting the arrival of a king at your home? Would it make any difference in your daily routine? How would you prepare? King Jesus is on His way, He’s coming to you, full of righteousness and bearing salvation. Now that’s an advent to look forward to with hope, with expectation, with longing, with urgency.
Once He came in blessing,
All our sins redressing;
Came in likeness lowly,
Son of God most holy;
Bore the cross to save us;
Hope and freedom gave us.
Jesus’ first advent was in humility, His divinity buried deeply under His humble humanity. He came by way of a Virgin girl, a manger, the man from Nazareth. He came as the Son of David, King David’s descendant and heir to throne, riding into His city on top of a borrowed donkey. The crowds were ready. They took off their coats and laid them on the ground. They cut down branches from trees and made a royal highway for Him. They welcomed Him with shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Straight out of Psalm 118, the psalm of welcome for the king. Your king is coming to you! Rush out in the streets and give him a proper royal welcome.
Did they know why He was coming? Apparently not. When reporters asked them what all the fuss was about and who this was, they said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” They had great expectations of Jesus. Here was the king come to save them from Roman rule. Here was the promised messiah who would put Israel back on the map. Here was the prophet of whom Moses spoke who would deliver the Word of God full blast. Here was everything for which they had hoped and longed and expected.
Then He went off and got crucified. Not the sort of King they expected after all. Better go and look for another, as many did. As many still do today. Any Jesus but that crucified One. What sort of King is this who rides a borrowed donkey, whose crown is made of thorns, whose throne is a cross? A humble King, a beggar King. In His humility is your righteousness and your salvation – He humbled Himself under His own Law, kept it perfectly for you, and died under its curse for you, obedient even to death on a cross.
From His Virgin mother and humble birth in Bethlehem to Nazareth to Jerusalem to Calvary, Jesus goes the whole way of humility bearing your sin and death for you. You, a sinner, damned to die forever under a Law you cannot keep. You, a child of Adam, conceived and born in Adam’s rebellion. He comes to you with His crucified victory over sin, death, devil, and the Law. His humility gives way to His exaltation, trampling Death and Hades underfoot, rising from the dead, appearing before men and then disappearing in the cloud to sit at the right hand of Majesty, enthroned forever as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now He gently leads us;
With Himself He feeds us
Precious food from heaven,
Pledge of peace here given,
Manna that will nourish
Souls that they may flourish.
Your King comes to you, baptized believer. You cannot now see Him, and you dare not try, but still He comes to you, righteous and having salvation. He comes in the hidden power of His Word and Spirit, hidden under the ordinary and the earthly means of water and word and bread and wine. This is Jesus’ second advent, His coming to us by Word and Sacrament. Like His first advent, this too is in humility as He hides Himself for our sakes and comes to us in ways we can receive Him. Even the tiniest baby can receive His Baptism, and with it forgiveness, life, and salvation.
He comes in the humble Word – the written Scriptures, the preached Word, human language going from mouth to ear, the most basic activity of our lives. Yet this Word is, like the Son of God Himself, a divine-human Word, delivering all that Jesus would give to you. Your King comes to you, through mouth and ear, righteous and having salvation.
He comes in the sublime hiddenness of the Supper – bread and wine concealing the sacrificial gift of His own Body and Blood. His holy, precious Blood, His innocent suffering and death are here given as your food, your end times manna from heaven.
His coming to us here and now remind us that salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. Each day that passes brings us closer to the last Day. The night is nearly over; the day is already dawning. For us now that means a casting off and a putting on. Cast off the works of darkness – drunkenness, immorality, sensuality, quarreling, jealousy – all the works of our old Adamic flesh, the works of death and darkness. Put them away. They don’t belong to the day. They don’t fit in the light. The day is about to dawn. Your King is coming. Put on His armor of light; dress in your daytime clothing, the robe of righteousness Jesus gives you. Wear your Baptism like a wedding suit. The King gave it you; He wants you well dressed at His wedding party. Don’t be caught dead without it. Literally.
All that fighting, bickering, shacking up, hooking up, drugs, drinking doesn’t belong to the coming King and His subjects. It belongs to the darkness and death from which we are saved. Don’t go there; you don’t belong there. There is nothing there for you but misery and death. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Wear His seamless robe of righteousness proudly in this world, even if the world laughs at you and spits at you and ridicules you and wants to crucify you. The hour has come to wake up. It may still be dark, but the day is drawing near. Your King is coming, righteous and having salvation. It’s time to get ready with Advent urgency.
Soon will come that hour
When with mighty power
Christ will come in splendor
And will judgment render,
With the faithful sharing
Joy beyond comparing.
Isaiah saw it off in the distance, a mountain of the Lord, higher than any mountain on this earth, a house unlike any house on this earth. A place where the nations can come, where people hear the Word and walk in the ways in the Lord’s paths of righteousness. A sanctuary of peace, where God Himself is judge and swords become plows and spears are turned into pruning hooks and bombs shells become wind chimes, and the art of war becomes the way of peace.
The United Nations building in New York has this passage from Isaiah engraved in its cornerstone, but that is both presumptive and premature. Human hubris. No gathering of the nations will bring peace. Our sinful, self-centered natures won’t allow it. The Prince of Peace brings that peace the world cannot give, the peace that transcends our understanding, the peace that comes with our dying and rising with Jesus. Then, and only then, at His coming in glory, will we be able to say, “I ain’t gonna study war no more.”
This is His third advent, His coming in glory on the Last Day, at a day and an hour no one knows or needs to know. It is enough to know that He is coming soon, righteous and having salvation, to raise the dead, to give life to all who confess Him.
Come, then, O Lord Jesus,
From our sins release us.
Keep our hears believing,
That we, grace receiving,
Ever may confess You
Till in heav’n we bless You.
It is Advent. Your King is coming to you. Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
In the name of Jesus,