Sermon / Pr. Lucas A. Albrecht / 1st Sunday in Advent / Sunday December 3rd 2017 - / Mark 11:1-10 / "They told them exactly what Jesus said"
Text: Mark 11.1-10 – 1st Sunday in Advent
Theme: They told them exactly what Jesus said
Intr – Here we are again entering Advent. Here we are anticipating Christmas, looking forward to celebrate the coming of our Saviour. His first coming, His incarnation, the God-man becoming flesh and dwelling among us; preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins; giving us His New Testament in His blood and body; giving Himself for us as he was hung on the cross. That’s what people say, pointing to the Christmas tree, “Tis the season”, and to the cross “Tis the Reason”.
Now, I have just conveyed in this opening several of the main teachings we uphold as Christians, which we know from Holy Scriptures and which can’t be changed. Moreover, which should be transmitted, taught, confessed, believed as they are stated.
Unfortunately, sometimes it goes like the “Broken telephone” game, or “whisper down the lane”. I’m sure you have played that one. You say something to the person in line and they have to pass it on and on, until it reaches the last person. What usually happens? The connection is broken and the original message is lost. It is very unusual for people to carry on exactly what was said in the first place.
That is not the case for the disciples, as we saw in the Gospel reading. They were told by Jesus to do something. They received a voice command, Jesus told them what to do. And He said: “If anyone says to you ‘why are you doing this?’, say: ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately’. And away the disciples went to the village in front of them with the mission Jesus gave to them; not only with the mission but with the words. St. Mark tells us” “They told them exactly what Jesus said”. Precision. Effectiveness. Looks like if they didn’t use the exact command they received things wouldn’t have worked out so well.
They bring the colt. Jesus sits upon it. He enters Jerusalem triumphantly fulfilling many prophecies of the OT – again, as precisely as foretold –being acclaimed as the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Is precision still our language today? Is precision still our goal as we confess, teach and witness God’s word in our house, in our neighbourhood, in society? We know precisely the answer. Not that we would be lying or being intentionally unfaithful. But many times we answer to the voice of “imprecision”. We fail to speak precisely.
Looking ahead the in Gospel of Mark, we see different teachings Jesus uttered after he entered the city, even before the Last Meal and his suffering and death. Some of them:
Jesus cleanses the temple
The Authority of Jesus’ Words;
Paying taxes to Cesar.
The Sadducees and the Resurrection;
The Great Commandment;
The widow’s offering;
Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple
The last days;
There is a profound content and teaching in only 3 chapters. These here may serve as a mirror to evaluate how accurately we say exactly what Jesus said. What do we think, teach, confess about:
-Forgiveness – “I forgive if they repent”, “I forgive, but I don’t forget”, “I don’t regret anything I did”;
-The Temple – What is it for? A house of business? A club to attend? A place to hang out when I have no other commitments?
-Offering –do we water down the widow’s offering to excuse our lack of generosity?
-Resurrection – Do we really believe every tomb will be open and every body will come back to life?
-Authority – are we willing to be subject in full to Christ’s authority? Or to the authorities that he constitutes over us when they do good?
-The Passover – What do we believe and teach about The Holy Supper? What happens there? What does it mean to be prepared to receive it?
-Last Things – Will there be for sure and end? Is everyone who is found not in Christ to be forever put away from God?
What do we think, teach, confess?
It all comes back to what the serpent said: “Did God actually say? Maybe what He really meant was…” Or if the serpent slithered up to you today in its common disguises and say: “Let me explain it better. Let me put in the appropriate context. After all, humans beings wrote it, and in a specific context and time. You need to update it.” In other words, you don’t need to tell exactly what Jesus said. You can use your own words – and context, and prejudices, and ideologies, and walk of life, and hatred, and lenience – to explain it to this generation. “Be flexible, you know what people need”.
The disciples though, they told exactly what Jesus told them. The triumphant entry happens. Jesus goes to the cross. Jesus does exactly what he came for. This is our good news. We don’t always cling to the Word of God, we don’t always take them exactly as they were told , we don’t always pass it along exactly as Jesus said - but He never changes. He never moves even an inch from what he said. God said:
-I will send a Saviour;
-I will rescue my people from Egypt;
-I will lead you to the promised land;
-I will bring you back to that land.;
-I will send John the Baptist;
-I am sending my son;
-He will be born from a Virgin;
-He will accomplish my plan;
-He is coming to save you;
-He will love;
-He will be with you. My Son Will.
Period. He said, and he was precise in every single letter of every single word.
Now, you may be among those who chanted to the king entering Jerusalem only to 5 days later ask for his crucifixion. You may be Jesus’ disciples that, after doing exactly what he said, abandoned Him later on when they saw danger around the corner. You and I may many times over have not told people exactly what Jesus says in His Word. You and I may have not followed his commandments as He commanded. Still, He will do exactly what he said. He will forgive us. He will restore us. He obeyed the Father. He came at Christmas to say and do exactly what the Father told Him. He was able to be 100% effective in this accomplishment. He is the baby King who came to face His Cross and to leave behind Him an empty tomb so you and I can have the opportunity to listen to God’s Word, to be fed in His Sacrament to receive eternal life.
He sends you too. He sends us to the next village, to the next neighbourhood, to the next house. Even to our own house. He sends us and gives us the words to tell them. We don’t need to water it down. We don’t need to paraphrase it when it comes to core teachings of the Bible. We don’t need to make it relevant – it is by itself. He sends us to prepare with His Word the way for Him to come to hearts that will eventually shout: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. He will come to change hearts and lives, bringing them to Him, opening ears to listen to His voice,
December the 3rd is an important date for our congregation as perhaps some of you would remember. On December 3rd, 1961, the first Divine Service was held in this Sanctuary. Also, the first Baptism. It came after a period of overwhelming growth over the first 8 years, from 100 to more than 600 members. Then, our Church saw its pews over inside our first Church building at St. John and 2nd Avenue become so full that we felt the need to go bigger. This piece of land where we are sitting at today was bought and in that early December the first liturgy was celebrated. The first sermon was preached from this pulpit. The first handshakes were held at the door, pointing to a future of an even bigger growth, reaching its peak of a 1500 membership in the ‘80s.
Now, why was this new facility erected here and why was that first of many Services held? Because Mount Olive wanted to keep telling exactly what Jesus told us. Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year after year this is what we, as imperfect sinners, strive to do: to proclaim from this pulpit, from this sanctuary, through the different means and media we have today the exact Word that Jesus said to us.
Cc - Advent is this time to celebrate the one who comes in the name of the Lord. It is time to listen to His voice. And it is time to proclaim the good news of the Gospel which are for all people. This is time to continue to tell exactly what Jesus told us to. Amen