Jesus Comes to Save Us / Mark 11:1–10 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday December 3rd 2023 / Advent / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday Dec 3rd 2023: Season of Advent / Mark 11:1–10 "Jesus Comes to Save Us"
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 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 they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 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!”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. There is what you want and there is what you are given. We all experience this is our lives. Sometimes it is the mercy of God that we receive not what we want but what He has planned for us, the thing that we truly need. We might want what we think is the easy thing where He instead has in store for us the harder thing that produces more fruit.
The hunk of metal doesn’t forge itself into a sword, a weapon of war; the clay doesn’t form itself into a cup or jug, a vessel to carry wine or water; the fruit tree doesn’t prune its own branches in order to bring forth abundance. The fire of the forge, the rough hands of the potter, the sharp sheer and hook of the vinedresser burn and press and cut and in the end what is brought forth is more grand and wonderful than what could ever be expected if the iron was left in the ground, if the clay was never put on the potter wheel, if the fruit tree was left to grow wild. And so it is with each of us. But unlike a hunk of metal, or a lump of clay or the wood and leaves of a tree we have our thoughts and our freewill so we then have an opinion about what would be best, what we want and what we do not want. As Christians, in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray to our heavenly Father that it would not be my will, but “Thy will [that would] be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And we confess it to be true that “The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer ... [and that God’s will] may be done among us also,” that, “God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; [the Lord’s will is done] when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.” And so we see that God gives to us what He wills as a gift and that we may not always want it the way He provides it, we may not actually even want what He gives at all when our will is not aligned with His will for us.
In our Old Testament reading from Isaiah we hear the plea of the people that the Lord would “rend the heavens and come down,” “that the mountains might quake at [His] presence,” that the Lord would “make [His] name known to [His] adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at [His] presence.” With their back up against the wall this was their desire, yet in the ultimate fulfilment of the Lord coming to His people what was wanted—what was desired—and what happened are two different things. What you just heard again from Isaiah doesn’t sound much like a “humble” man riding into Jerusalem on the back of “a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” Even still Jesus’ name certainly was being made know to His adversaries when He made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and what’s more those who cheered His arrival and those who feared it certainly heard who this Jesus was. He was, in fact, the very one promised to come in the name of the Lord, the Herald of the coming kingdom of their father David. David, the famous Old Testament king was the one who’d received the promise, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever. I will be to Him a father, and He shall be to Me a son.” The people that day were seeing that promised fulfilled before their very eyes.
Now of course before Jesus can sit on “a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden,” and ride into Jerusalem to the loud sounds of “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!,” before many faithful folks can spread their cloaks on the road before Him, before others can spread leafy branches that they’d cut from the fields for the hooves of the donkey to trod upon this Jesus must be born and grow up, He must be heralded and proclaimed. The promise of His coming must be fulfilled. So with this reading today we start nearer the end of things than the beginning. In the weeks to come we head backwards bit by bit until the entirety of what God was giving, in the gift of His Son, becomes clear. But that day as Jesus road into Jerusalem He was not the Saviour that everyone wanted. While some shouted “Hossana!” “Save us Now!,” thinking only of the oppression of the Romans, the foreign power that brutally held them under their thumb and taxed them without mercy, they didn’t perceive that Jesus had come to save them from sin, death, the devil and world, to save them even from themselves. In Jesus there is what they wanted and there is what they were being given.
In Isaiah we hear these words of truth, “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for Him.” When Jesus rides into Jerusalem on that Sunday the first day of what we now call Holy Week, He doesn’t come to them burning like a pillar of fire by night as happened at the Red Sea or in their wanderings in the wilderness. He is not coming as a theophany, a pre-incarnate visible manifestation of God to mankind, like the Children of Israel witnessed on Mount Sinai when Moses received the 10 Commandments, “when on the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.” No, Jesus here comes humble and mounted on a donkey and yet the eyes of all who looked upon Jesus on that day looked upon God, for as Saint Paul would later write, this Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” Now this wasn’t just about seeing God in the flesh. When they heard Jesus’ voice they, in like manner, also heard the voice of God. Jesus speaking to the people was not like it was in the Exodus “when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, [and] the people were afraid and trembled, [when] they stood far off [saying] to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” [When Moses] said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin.” [Jesus’ coming to Jerusalem was not like those days when] the people [then] stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” With Jesus it was not like that, even if some in their great distress living under the Romans thought they would want God to act in that way again in their day, that they would like Him to come with smoke and thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet. Which isn’t to say that Jesus’ words were not like fire, that they had no authority or power, they most certainly did; in the last weeks we have witnessed this as we looked at Jesus teaching in the days that followed His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week. Basically while God was coming to save them while their Saviour, their Messiah, was indeed coming to them there were those like most of the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the Scribes and Herodians and Elders of the people who wanted such a rescue to come in a different way, to be accomplished by someone (anyone) who was not this Jesus. Even though they looked upon Jesus’ face, they did so as ones who had a veil over their hearts obscuring Jesus’ true face, they lived their lives like the ones spoken of in our reading from Isaiah today who melt in the hand of their iniquities; yes they were captive to their sinful hearts and not to God. Saint Luke tells us how on that day some of the Pharisees in the crowd even said to [Jesus], “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” As you’ve heard over the last weeks the Lord would continue to be merciful even to these ones, over and over again giving them ample opportunity through His Son to repent and return to the Lord.
Some people today what Jesus to speak directly to them; they don’t prize the gift God has given them in His Word. The fire of God’s word which issued forth from the lips of Jesus now pour forth from the pages of the Bible and hit your ears from the mouths of those sent to publicly read them to you. For proof of Jesus’ authenticity others want to lay hold of Jesus and touch Him as His disciples did during their time with Him leading up to His crucifixion and in the time after His resurrection from the dead before His ascension to the right hand of the Father. They want to touch Jesus; they want to lay hold of Him. Such people are not satisfied that the very Jesus who was nailed dead to the cross of Good Friday in His crucifixion, that the Jesus who walked out of the Tomb alive on that first Easter Morning now comes to us in with and under the bread and the wine of Holy Communion. As the one who has overcome the World, that Jesus now comes humbly to you mounted on the pages of Scripture, in the bread and the wine of His Supper, making His Triumphal Entry into your heart to cast out your sin, to protect you from the evil one, to protect you from yourself, to make of you what you would not make of yourself if you had what you desired most, what you wanted most. This is the Jesus, who comes not as we always want Him to come but as the Father gives Him, is the one who we prepare to celebrate again this coming Christmas, and it is He with the Father and with the Holy Spirit work to do these things for you. With this in mind, what does Isaiah says of God the Father?
But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all Your people.”
Dear ones do not pretend to be the master and commander of your life, as Isaiah warns such people, “Woe to him who strives with his Maker! ... Shall the clay say to Him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall [the] handiwork [of the LORD] say, ‘[God] has no hands’?” Do you know the beginning from the end? The donkey that morning did not wake up knowing that it would be carrying God into Jerusalem that day; the donkey’s owner didn’t know that the Lord would have need of their donkey that day; neither do you know how the Lord will use you today, or tomorrow, or this week, or through the course of your life. It may not be in ways you want but as King David’s son King Solomon writes in Proverbs 19 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand,” it is the LORD's purpose that prevails, His will. So I leave you with what we heard in our Epistle today, “because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus ... you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, [which will come on the Last Day, and now the Lord] will sustain you to The End, guiltless in The Day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Dear ones Saint Paul teaches us that while we are not faultless in our faith,] “God is faithful, [and He has called you] into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Therefore today and tomorrow, yes even on The Last Day however you see your Lord Jesus come to you, whether that’s from the pages of Holy Scripture, in the Waters of Baptism, in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, or upon His return with angels and Arch Angels and all the company of heaven to judge the living and the dead, you can call out with the crowd from our Gospel Reading today “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!” Have as your constant prayer, “Lord have mercy, save me now!,” remembering always: You have been saved, you are saved, and you will be saved. Your salvation is Christ Jesus the Lord; it is not in you or in your wants or desires. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen."
 Isaiah 64:8
 Isaiah 64:1–9
 Isaiah 64:1-2
 Matthew 21:5
 2 Samuel 7:12–14a
 Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-25
 Exodus 19:16
 Colossians 1:15a
 Exodus 20:18–21
 2 Corinthians 3:12–16
 Isaiah 64:7
 Luke 19:39–40
 John 16:33
 Isaiah 45:9
 Proverbs 19:21
 1 Corinthians 1:4, 7–9
Photo Credits: Main photo, detail of Jesus Christ riding into Jerusalem on donkey to both fear and adoration from rawpixel; detail of potter with clay on wheel from pexels; detail of fire in the darkness from pexels; detail of donkey with colt from pixabay; detail of the humble Lord Jesus crucified from pexels; photo of pastor reading Scripture and photo of pastor preparing Holy Communion from schultzphoto.