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Untying The Colt

December 1, 2018

Verse: Luke 19:28–19:40

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
December 2, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Advent 1
Untying The Colt

When [Jesus] had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of his disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’”

So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their cloaks on it, and set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.

As he was drawing near – already on the way down Olive Mountain – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:28-40)

Today the church gathers to continue in the train of sacred history. To do what the saints of God were doing 2,000 years ago! Welcoming Jesus into their midst.

But there is a difference between then and now in that Jesus does not come to us riding on the back of a young donkey. But be sure that our encounter is just as factual and real today as was the coming we hear of in today’s gospel.

No, there is no donkey here today, nor cloaks strewn on the aisles of the church, but there is the church’s modern day version of them. You see them every Sunday but don’t make the connection. It is the paraments on the altar. These are not simply pretty decorations but a continuation of the celebration that marks Christ’s coming into the world to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15). They are the liturgical cloaks, and swaddling clothes that we use today to welcome Jesus, the self same King.

No donkey is needed because he doesn’t come in human form, but it is the exalted Christ that we receive here each Sunday. It is his voice we hear in the Scriptures and his Body and Blood that we “taste and see” “in with and under” the Bread and the Wine.

Sunday is often called the Lord’s Day, but do we know what that means? It’s called the Lord’s Day, and not “God’s Day” because it refers to Jesus who is Lord. To Jesus who on this day inserts himself into the affairs of men! And Oh what a needed insertion it is!!

It is the glorious Day in which he comes to commune with his people. To speak the Words of Eternal Life into the ears of his Holy Bride the church, and to untie her from her burdens, and unite her to himself in a Communion as inexplicable and mysterious as it is holy. A Communion like no other. But even it is only a “foretaste of the feast to come!” Because “eye has not seen, nor ear heard the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

But you are here today! Your access is your faith. Your entrance is your baptism. But what gives these their inestimable value is the blood of Jesus shed on the cross that “purifies us from every sin!” (1 John 1:9)

That was the point, after all, of his entrance into the world on Christmas and his entrance into Jerusalem as we hear in today’s gospel. He was born to die; destined to die; but not an ordinary death; but a sacrificial one instead. A bloody death that was the fulfillment of every Old Testament sacrifice ever offered, of which many millions performed.

But the blood of goats and bulls, however copious, can never forgive sins. But those sacrifices looked forward to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which your uncountable trespasses are atoned for.

But not just the common ones, but the dark ones; the destructive ones that have ruined lives and set the world aflame; the repetitive ones that seem to hold you captive as with iron chains, and fill your heart with trembling. Those are gone! Those are washed away in the blood of the Lamb! And so repent and believe this Good News and you will be free!

Yes, they all yield to the blood of the Lamb which is more powerful than they – a cleansing agent like no other, any time, any place, any how.

And this is why we have assembled today, to remember and to receive the benefits of the cross in the Word and Sacrament.

Note the mysterious way in which Jesus obtains the colt to carry him to our judgment! How did that happen? Was it just a parlor game, or a pre-arranged meeting not recorded in Scripture?

None of the above, Beloved. But it was done by the power of God whose will is “done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

This donkey was the means by which Jesus was to be delivered in humility to his Royal Throne which is the cross – which we keep not only in our hearts, but before our eyes by the crucifix which is the church’s chief icon.

As every aspect of our Redemption was prepared and accomplished by the power of God right down to the mysterious securing of the donkey – even so the Eucharist we partake of this day! It comes to us courtesy of the power of Jesus’ Institution: Take eat this is my body, take drink this cup is the New Testament in my blood shed for you. Take those words literally for it is no charade or symbol you take into yourself today – but the living flesh and blood of the exalted Christ that imparts life and salvation to you.

Yes, it is the same Jesus who we receive today. He who “was made man” at the incarnation, and who will come again in great power and glory to shepherd his church into unending splendor. You are that church, and so let us untie our tongues, and unloose our lives from dissipation, and do exactly what our Gradual exhorts!

Let us shout aloud! in liturgy today because if we do not the very stones of the ground will come alive and become sentient! They will grow hearts and minds and ears and tongues to shout out “the praises of him who called us out darkness, into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Amen.