Advent 1b, (November 30, 2014)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
TITLE: “Two Parades Into Jerusalem”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Mark chapter eleven.
Two parades took place that week, the beginning of what we call Holy Week. The first was a parade from the west, where the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, entered into Jerusalem, the conquered city. He came from Caesarea, the center of the Roman government. He had to be present in Jerusalem for this Jewish feast that everyone was talking about. Passover, it was called. Well, he wasn’t there to worship. As the governor, he was also in charge of crowd control. The Jewish people of his day had a tendency to get testy at Roman rule, and they were known to riot if just the right, or wrong circumstances happened. Now Pilate was a soldier, and so he entered into God’s city with all the pomp and bravado that the military could muster. Rows of infantry and cavalry, and Pilate himself on a large stallion, as befit his rank. But there was no cheering to this crowd. Only silence. Pilate was the representative of Caesar, the one known as the “lord of all” and “savior of the world”, and even “a son of the gods”. He was power and control. Pilate was everything about how to world really worked in his day, and in ours.
Now contrast that with another procession, coming in from the east. A preacher and miracle worker was entering into this thronging city. But his entrance could not be more ironic. One rides a stallion, the other an untamed colt of a donkey. One has soldiers and protectors who will guard him with their lives. The other has a group of disciples who half the time don’t seem to get what he’s doing, and when they do actually get it, they try to stop him from doing it! One has the backing of the greatest power on earth, the might of Rome. The other has the backing of the creator of the universe, but that “backing”, so-called, is hard to see at times. The people hate Pilate and seem to love Jesus. But in a few short days, the crowd of worshippers will turn into a riot and call for Jesus’ crucifixion. It seems that hatred run pretty deep in some places.
So where do you fit in this topsy-turvy world? Do you fit with Pilate, with power and authority? Are you ready to riot when things are unfair or unjust? Or are you ready to sit in judgment of those people, safe behind closed doors and gated communities, glad that you don’t have to associate with such people. The fact is that whether we are silent watching Pilate, or releasing our “hosannas” and “save me now” cries to the preacher/miracle worker, in either case, we sons and daughters of Adam and Eve are fickle. We want to have our own way. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do. Not the government. Not any preacher. And least of all God. We want what we want when we want it, and we will not be denied. While there are riots in St. Louis and around the country of one sort, we also saw the riots of Black Friday as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s justice, or stuff, or my team to win, we are more like lost sheep or stubborn mules than we are anyone else. Repent.
What our Lord does in our text today is invite you to another way. The way that He goes is not the way of the world, it is not the way of Pilate. Remember again the words from our Old Testament reading this morning:
“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.” (Isaiah 64:1–3 ESV)
When God comes down, it is not what the world expects. God enters into our world, which is really His world all along. He enters into this world that is so far gone, and His entry is violent. But it is not violent because He is violent. No, it is violent because the enemies of Christ know that their time is short. Christ our Lord has come down to lead us home to be with Him, and the devil, the world, and our own sinful hearts, well they want nothing to do with a king of peace.
And yet He comes. Remember again those words from the hymn:
“Sin’s dreadful doom upon us lies; Grim death looms fierce before our eyes. O come, lead us with mighty hand From exile to our promised land. (LSB 355:6)
And yet He comes. He in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, as a child small and helpless. He comes as a lowly carpenter-turned-preacher. He comes into His city as the king of irony, the Word of God incarnate, riding atop an untamed colt. He comes to die for you and for me. He comes to life again, for you and for me. He comes through simple water, and calls Gabriel (Mitchell) to be His own. He comes to you now, hidden under bread and wine which is His body and blood. And He will come again in glory, to lead us with a mighty hand to our home with Him, a new heavens and a new earth.
And today He calls you by the Gospel. He calls you out of darkness into His light. He calls you to turn away from the love of self, from the false gods of this world. He calls you to live as a child of God, and heir of the kingdom of heaven. He calls you to live as free men and women, free to love your neighbor as yourself, free to sacrifice because He has made the greatest sacrifice. He calls you to all this and more, and it is a great and mighty calling.
Trust in your King to save you, for He will. Follow Him, for He will lead you through death to everlasting life in Him.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.