Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Third Sunday after Pentecost


Third Sunday after Pentecost (A – Proper 9)

July 3, 2011
Text: Zech. 9:9-12; Matt. 11:25-30

The Prophet Zechariah, preaching some 500 years before the birth of Christ, preaches to you today that your King, Jesus, the Savior, comes to you. And this is reason for great rejoicing! The Prophet preaches to the daughter of Zion, the daughter of Jerusalem, the holy Christian Church, you, beloved. Your King comes to you. He comes as a righteous King, just in His decrees, and full of justice for His people. Yet He does not come to condemn you in His righteousness, which of course, He could rightly do on account of your sin and rebelliousness. But this King comes having salvation. He comes to save you from your sins, from death, from hell, and from the power of the devil. He comes to suffer and to die in your place, and by His death He makes full atonement for your sins and reconciles you to the Father. He comes in humility, as one of us, God in the flesh, born in a stable, the Son of the Virgin Mary. Everything He does, He does not for Himself, but for you. Everything He speaks, He speaks not for Himself, but for you. He fulfills His ministry in a state of humiliation, only rarely using His divine powers as the Son of God, so that He can suffer unjustly at the hands of sinners, for the sake of sinners, for you. So He comes to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey, the Passover Lamb led to the slaughter, for you. Behold, your King.

He does not claim His Kingdom by violence or force. He claims His Kingdom by suffering a violent death. His Kingdom, His precious blood-bought Church, receives the violence of the world, but she does not respond in kind. This King has brought an end to the chariot and the warhorse and the battle bow for His people. The only weapon of this King and this Church is the Word of the Lord, the Word of peace. This King speaks peace to the nations. This King speaks peace to you. He rules in peace over the whole earth, over the whole creation, for you, from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. He rules over all things for the sake of His people. And He comes to bring freedom by the blood of His covenant. In shedding His blood on the cross, the Lord Jesus frees you from the waterless pit of hell. Jesus Himself is your stronghold, your tower, your mighty fortress. Return to Him in repentance over your sins, trusting in Him for help and salvation, with great rejoicing. For He will restore to you double.

Yes, your King declares in our text that He will restore to you double. What does that mean? Remember that in the prophetic preaching the original context is the Assyrian exile of the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom, and the later Babylonian exile of the Southern Kingdom, Judah. In the immediate context Zechariah is proclaiming the joyful return of the exiles to the Promised Land. And He speaks of the coming Messiah who will restore Israel as the chosen people of God. This is a direct prophecy of Christ. When Christ comes, everything that has been taken away from you in exile, and more importantly, everything that has been taken away from you by your fall into sin: your relationship to God, your righteousness, your salvation, your life itself, will be restored to you double. In Christ, God gives you so much more than you’ve lost. He restores to you double. Not only are you restored as God’s people, you are called children of God. Not only are your sins forgiven, you are given the perfect righteousness of Christ. Not only are you restored to the Promised Land, you are given heaven and the sure and certain hope of bodily resurrection from the dead on the Last Day. Not only has death as the wages of sin been defeated, you are given eternal life with God, restored to His image. Not only does Israel come back from exile to inhabit Palestine once again. Messiah comes, the Christ, the Lord Jesus, as the true King of Israel, to lead His people to the true Promised Land of the Father’s Kingdom, and to expand the Israel of God, the chosen nation, the holy Christian Church, to include also the Gentiles, multitudes from every nation, tribe, people, and language, to include you, beloved.

The Lord Jesus fulfills this prophecy as He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of “Hosanna in the Highest! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord” (cf. Matt. 21 and John 12), and as He sheds the blood of the covenant, the blood to which all the sacrifices of bulls and goats pointed, the blood that cleanses us of all sin. Jesus rides into Jerusalem to die! He sheds His blood and dies for Israel and for all people. He is risen, and lives and reigns to all eternity as the King of Israel, which is not only the physical descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but all who are sons of Abraham by faith, all Christians, all who believe in Jesus Christ. He leads you out of your Babylonian exile in this fallen world and in the kingdom of the devil. He frees you from the waterless pit of hell by His own blood shed on the cross. By Baptism, He makes you, who were not His people, who are Gentiles by birth, who are sinners by the nature of your corrupt flesh, to be His own people, His own possession. It is all by grace. It is all His undeserved mercy and kindness. That your King Jesus comes to you is reason for great rejoicing, indeed.

He came then in the flesh, to do His saving work. But how does He come to you now? He comes to you by revealing Himself to you in His Word. There is no other way to access Him. He does not come in such a way that human wisdom and understanding can comprehend Him. He comes as to little children who believe His Word, precisely because it is His Word. He comes to you in His Word preached and inscripturated. He comes in Absolution spoken in His stead and by His command by His called and ordained servants. He comes in water combined with God’s Word, and in bread and wine that by virtue of His Word are His true body and blood, the very same body and blood of the Word made flesh that was nailed to the cross for your salvation. That is how He comes to you. And He is received by faith. Faith is simply trust in Jesus, trust in His salvation, trust that what He says is true. Faith believes the Word by which your King comes to you. He still comes in humility, though He is now eternally in His state of exaltation, always and fully using His divine powers for you. Still, He comes in humility in this sense: He condescends to you in your weakness and limitation. He comes to you in a way in which you can grasp Him, by words and water and bread and wine. Through these means He comes to you right in the midst of your exile, right in the midst of your weariness and burden bearing, right in the midst of your weakness and the sins of your flesh, your idolatry, your lust, your covetousness. He comes to give you rest, the rest of sins forgiven, the rest of eternal life, the rest of joy in the Lord Jesus.

Notice He still comes in your midst to the shouts of “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” He comes right to this very altar with His true body and blood to give you His rest. All of this to sustain you in the midst of your exile here in this fallen world of sin and death, to sustain you under the burden of the old sinful nature. For your exile is coming to an end. Christ will come again visibly. And that, also, will be a Day of great rejoicing. Because there is no fear of judgment for you. You are already judged righteous in Christ. That Day is a Day of deliverance for you, a Day when, with great rejoicing, you enter for all eternity the Promised Land of a new heaven a new earth. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (Zech. 9:9; ESV). Rejoice and sing, dear Church of Christ, purchased by His blood! Your King comes to you now. And He is coming soon visibly. He gives you His righteousness. He gives you His salvation. It is His free gift. He is your stronghold, O prisoners of hope! He restores to you double. Behold, your King! In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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