“Come Death...Come Life”
v. 9 “And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’”
Dear friends in Christ, Come. It’s a simple little word, isn’t it? Four letters strung together to form the meaning for the season that we are beginning this very day—Advent. And Whose coming is it that we are celebrating—that we are anxiously anticipating? None other than the Lord Jesus Christ, of course! The Lord of Life who has entered into the flesh to take our sin upon Himself and die for it upon the cross. It is His coming that we look to with anxious hearts—awaiting the time when He will come to judge both the living and the dead—the time when He will make all things new and bring us to live with Him forever in paradise by His side.
And in looking at life today—seeing the dreadful state the world is currently in—our longing for Him to come is intensified. I mean just look at the events of these past weeks and months: Flooding in BC, rogue cars at Christmas parades, pandemics, etc. that strike with no remorse—no pity--no mercy. They came—in the name of death.
Death. It so shocking. So very final. It can come suddenly and unexpectedly, as it did for those in Waukesha Wisconsin, or it can come slowly—but it always comes. It comes for us all. It can come to anyone at any time in any place—whether in far off lands—or right here at home. It doesn’t care whether you are young or old, rich or poor—it can and will come for you.
It comes to us because we are broken and sinful—for when sinful pride and arrogance took over the human heart we have all been affected. We are justly condemned for we by nature we are rebellious and sin-filled people—who long not to come to Jesus, but rather to run away from Him. And so, my dear friends in Christ—because each of us is a sinner—and death is result of sin—it will come for each of us.
Beloved in Christ, when it does finally come--when death at last catches up with someone we know and love--what can we say at a time like that? What words can we possibly speak that would bring comfort and peace to a family that has been devastated by death—who have had a loved one torn from them—who have lost someone who brought such joy to their lives? And what words can we speak to a world filled with such pain and sorrow, anger and hatred—a world where people despise one another so much that they will run down and murder complete strangers for no apparent reason? Speak a different language? Have a different shade of skin? Who worship Christ alone?
It is hard to see the blessing that we have in Christ when we suffer in this life. Especially, when we feel that dreadfully cold hand of death around our hearts or those who are near and dear to us. When we see them in pain and hurting. Where is Thy blessing, O Lord? Where is Thy merciful hand? Where is Thy power and might? Where are You when sin and death and hell seem to have their way all over the world—even among those who bear your name in Holy Baptism?
Where indeed? Our text starts us off this Advent season with Jesus nearing the end of His earthly life. In five days’ time Jesus will suffer betrayal, unjust condemnation, torture, and a humiliating and brutal death. And that, dear friends, is where our blessing comes from. What did the crowds shout as Jesus entered Jerusalem in lowly humility—riding on a foal of a donkey? “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Hosanna is a word expressing an appeal for divine help—Save us!—Help, we pray you! Which, of course, is exactly what Christ came to do. He came into this world—not in glory and power and might—but in weakness—humility—in frail human flesh—so that He might take the sin of the world upon Himself and suffer and die for it on the cross—thereby saving us from our sin. And it is in that act of salvation—that supreme act of selfless sacrifice on the cross—that we have, indeed, been truly blessed. For the blood that was shed on Calvary was shed for me and for you. It was shed for all people—that we might be redeemed from the eternally damning consequences of our sin—and that we might have peace with God.
In that one act of God dying—blessing truly has come to all who believe in His name. All who have been baptized have received the wondrous name of the Lord upon their brows. You now bear Jesus’ name—and your name has been written in His book of life. For at your baptism, dear children of God, you have been bathed in the blood of the Lamb that was slain. And this Lamb’s blood has the power to heal you of your most deadly sickness—sin. This Lamb’s blood has paid the price for your sin—His dead body lay cold in the grave for three days—so that you might have life and salvation in His name.
These are the blessings that belong to you. That have come to you, not by your works or merit—but by the grace and mercy of God alone in the person and work of His dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Come what may—you may have comfort and peace in the sure and certain fact that His death has become yours—and so has His life.
When death at last comes for you, my dear friends in Christ, you need not fear. You need not fear because when you finally meet the Lord God on High face to face—you will not be coming before Him—having to face Him—on your own merits or works—in your own name. No, indeed, you will come in the name of the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ who has washed you clean in your Baptism. The same Lord Jesus who has made you His own dear child and heir.
The Lord Jesus who has fed you throughout your earthly days of pilgrimage on this earth with His very own body and blood to forgive, strengthen, and restore you to a right relationship with Him—who has truly saved you by His own perfect life, suffering, death, and resurrection. It is in His name that you will come—and it is by His name that you have been, and will be, blessed for all eternity. For in Him you have forgiveness, life, and salvation.
In Jesus' name the throngs of heaven—the glorious angels as well as the blessed saints who have gone before you—will welcome you into the Kingdom of Heaven. For you have been led by the Spirit to trust and believe and hold fast to the promises of God in His holy and blessed Word. For He has come to you—in water and word, bread and wine—and He has saved you from your sin—and blessed you beyond all measure.
So, come. Come and receive His blessings that He Himself has prepared for you at this very altar week after week. Come, rejoice in His Kingdom of love and forgiveness that is yours now and forevermore. Come—in the name of the Lord—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and truly be blessed. Come to all you long for—come to all you need—come now and see—come receive God’s only begotten Son—prepared for you on the altar of the cross—and given freely to you in Word and Sacrament for the remission of all your sins—to grant you faith, peace, and hope—even in the midst of deepest and darkest despair—pain and sorrow--even death. For Christ is near—He is ever with you—He has come to you in His Gospel to hold and preserve you until the time when He will at last come to take you to be with Him unto life everlasting. Thanks be to God in Christ Jesus. Amen.