Matthew 21:1-9: Your King Comes, Righteous and Having Salvation

“Behold, your king is coming to you, righteous and having salvation.”  Are you ready for your King?  Are you ready for His visit?  Are you prepared for His grand and glorious advent?

For that’s what it is: It’s Advent.  It’s not the “holiday season.”   It’s not Black Friday morphing into the pre-Christmas shopping season.  It’s Advent, from the Latin adventus, which means coming, arrival, or appearance.

Your King is coming to you, righteous and having salvation.  He’s coming to give you His perfection and holiness, to sentence you innocent in His innocence.  He’s coming to save you.  He’s coming to rescue you from sin, death, and the devil.  Are you ready?

Have you stopped to consider what all that means?  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?  Yes, your King is coming.  King Jesus is on His way; He’s coming to you, full of righteousness and bringing salvation.  Now that’s an advent to look forward to with hope, expectation, longing, and even urgency.

Jesus’ first advent was in humility.  He came hiding His divinity deep within His humble humanity.  He had to do that for us to receive Him without dying.  So, He came to us through a young Virgin by the Holy Spirit’s power.  He also came as the Son of David.  For He was King David’s descendant and heir to the throne, riding into Jerusalem on top of a borrowed donkey.

The crowds were ready.  They took off their coats and laid them on the ground.  They cut branches from the trees and made a royal highway for Him.  They welcomed Him with shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  They chanted, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  It was 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!

Oh, they had enormous expectations of Jesus!  But did they know why He was coming?  Obviously not, for their expectations were the wrong ones.  For the crowds, He was the king coming 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 in all its explosive power, demolishing all vestiges of Roman rule.  That was what they had hoped for, longed for, and expected.

Then that Messiah-King went off and got crucified.  That’s wasn’t the king they expected.  So many thought: “I’ll go and look for another.  This king doesn’t meet my wants, what I am seeking.”

Many still respond to Jesus in the same way.  Even in Christ’s Church, some want to give Jesus a makeover, all to make Him more appealing.  They want to remake in Him, in their own image, instead of having Him be who He is.  Yet, Jesus still comes to us, riding on a borrowed donkey!  He’s a real king with a crown of thorns, whose throne is a cross.  Such is the King of kings and Lord of lords who comes in a beggar’s garb.

Yet, it is in such humility that Jesus comes, bringing you righteousness and salvation.  He humbled Himself under His own Law.  He kept it flawlessly for you.  He died under its curse for you, obedient even to death on a cross.

From His Virgin mother and humble birth in Bethlehem, He went to Nazareth, to Jerusalem, and to Golgotha, the place of death.  Jesus walked the road of humility, all the while bearing your sin and death for your salvation.

You were a born a sinner, damned to die forever under a Law you could not keep.  You were born a child of Adam, spiritually stillborn because of his rebellion, a result of the Fall into Sin.

But still, your King comes to you with His crucified victory over sin, death, devil, and the Law.  By His death, He has trampled down death, becoming the firstborn of the dead.  He has delivered you from the depths of hell and has granted to you His full mercy.  By His death, He has trampled Death; and to those in the tombs, He has granted life.

King Jesus’ humility gives way to His exaltation.  He descends into hell.  He appears before His creation.  He then ascends into the clouds to sit at the right hand of Majesty, enthroned forever as King of kings and Lord of lords.

But thanks be to God that’s not the end of the story.  O dearest believer, your King still comes to you.  Oh, you cannot see Him, but still He comes, righteous and having salvation.  He comes in the hidden power of His Word and Spirit, hidden under the ordinary and the earthly: water and word, bread and wine.  This is Jesus’ continuing advent among us and for us, His coming to us in Word and Sacrament.

This continuing presence of Christ among us is also one of humility.  He comes to us in ways in which we can still receive Him.  Even the tiniest baby can receive His baptism, His washing of regeneration, with its forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Jesus comes in the humble Word: The preached Word.  It’s human language going from mouth to ear.  Like in His first advent, God commandeers the most-common means of communication to bring you Jesus.  Yet this Word is–like the Son of God Himself–a divine-human Word, delivering all that Jesus would give to you.  Yes, your King still comes to you, through the mouth into the ear, righteous and having salvation.

Jesus also comes in the mystery of hiding Himself in His Supper.  It’s bread and wine masking the sacrificial gift of His own Body and Blood.  It’s His holy, precious Blood, His innocent suffering and death, given here as your food, your end-times nourishment from heaven.  Yes, your King still comes to you, hidden in bread and wine, righteous and having salvation.

Jesus’ coming to us here and now reminds us that salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  Every day that passes brings you closer to the Last Day.  The night will soon be ending; the dawn cannot be far.

What does this mean?  It means that we are to cast off the old and put on the new.  Cast off the works of darkness: drunkenness, immorality, sensuality, quarreling, and jealousy.  Those are the works of our old, sinful flesh.  They are the works of death and darkness.  Send them away.  They don’t belong to the day.  Their sinful ugliness is all-too hideous in the light.

For the day is about to dawn.  After all, your King, who is the Light, is coming.  So, put on His armor of light.  Dress in your daytime clothing, the robe of righteousness that Jesus gives you.  Wear your baptism like a wedding garment.  After all, the King gave it to you.  He wants you well-dressed at His eternal wedding feast.  So, don’t be caught dead on the Last Day without it!

Isaiah also saw Christ’s coming, but not only His first advent.  He saw His coming way off in the distance.  He saw His Savior’s arrival as a mountain of the Lord, higher than any mountain on this earth, a house unlike any house on this earth.  It was a place where the nations could come.  It was where people could hear the Word and walk in the Lord’s paths of righteousness.  It was a sanctuary of peace.  There, swords become plows; spears are turned into pruning hooks, and the art of war is transformed into the way of peace.

That is Jesus’ second advent.  It’s His coming in glory on the Last Day, at a day and hour that no one knows or needs to know.  It is enough for us to know that He is coming soon.  It’s enough that He is righteous and has salvation–even for us on the Last Day.  For that’s where we will receive our salvation in all its fullness.  That’s when our body and soul will be reunited, and we will reign with God in eternity (Revelation 22:5).

Yes, it’s Advent.  Your King is coming to you.  So, come; let us walk in the Lord and the beauty of His Light.  Amen.