Ad Te Levavi – First Sunday in Advent
“We Are Not Put to Shame”
Seminarian Kyle Mullins
St. Matthew 21.1-9; Romans 13.8-14; Jeremiah 23.5-8 (Psalm 25)
01 December 2019
+ In the Name of Jesus +
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
You have probably already heard some breaking news about Chick Fil-A. Recently, the company has faced ever increasing protests by the LGBT community and its supporters for donations to “anti-homosexual” charities. Its first store in Europe was driven out. Walk-outs were conducted at schools and events which served Chick Fil-A’s food. So, finally, just a couple weeks ago, Chick Fil-A announced it would no longer be donating to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes; the two big charities which were the apparent reasons for these protests. They finally gave in to the pressure of the modern culture. And, unfortunately, Chick Fil-A is not alone in this. Several companies in recent history have fallen victim to this increasingly anti-Christian culture.
Enemies of the Christian Church, those who not only deny the Word of God, but despise it and want to destroy it, are becoming louder and louder, and appear to be gaining more and more success. Many companies in recent history have either been sued out of business or forced into acceptance and religious silence. We see this in several instances where bakers have been put out of business for simply refusing to make a cake for a homosexual wedding. Even many Churches are falling prey to this culture. They are sued for not allowing a homosexual marriage in their sanctuary. Denominations and Congregations throughout the Christian landscape are torn apart by people without and within trying to introduce things like women’s ordination and acceptance of homosexuality and even acceptance of abortion. Unfortunately, some churches not only have started to accept these things, but go so far as to openly embrace and glorify this anti-Christian culture. The darkness of sin in this world is growing larger and larger, attempting to snuff out Christianity wherever it stands. With all of this, it appears the Christian Church is fighting a losing battle.
And Satan makes sure that we see this apparent losing battle in ourselves too. Whenever we decide to put something else over the Word of God, whether it be some extra sleep, or a soccer game, or a family event. Whenever we toil over our own wellbeing and peace of mind to the point of hording every last cent for ourselves instead of helping those in need. Whenever we give in to the pressure of those outside the Church, remaining quite when they attack the Church, or perhaps even saying that we agree with them in order to not be declared a “hater” or “intolerant”. In all of these instances, Satan is there to show us just how much sin affects our lives, to show us how badly the Church is losing, how badly we ourselves are losing, in the fight against the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. And so, it can become incredibly easy to despair, to believe that God has failed us, that we will lose the battle with Satan and be overrun by our enemies.
But this is far from the truth. While Satan would have us believe that God has failed, that our faith has been put to shame, we are told something different. In our introit today, we heard psalm 25, in which David declared that those who trust in the Lord and wait on Him shall not be put to shame or be overwhelmed by their enemies.
Now, this is all well in good, we may think. It’s a nice thought David expresses. We would like to believe that our faith is not put to shame, that our struggles against the ever-growing anti-Christian movement are actually worth the fight and that God will come to our aid in this pressing time. We would like to believe this, but do these words by David really provide any comfort? After all, we see time and time again how our enemies overrun us and silence us and how we even act as enemies of God ourselves. But what is David really talking about here? Is he talking about a comfort we have in this world, victory over the enemies of God in this life? No. He is talking about the hope he has in God’s ultimate victory over death.
This victory is also prophesied by Jeremiah, in which a branch from David’s tree, a son of David, who is the Lord of Righteousness, will save all His people. It was faith in this Son of David which was the comfort and assurance of the believers in the Old Testament. They keep looking forward, knowing that their salvation, their Lord of Righteousness, is coming.
And now, as we begin the Church year today, we see the Lord of Righteousness, Christ himself, looking towards this victory too. While it may seem kind of odd to read a Palm Sunday text for the first Advent reading, this is really what the coming of our Lord was all about. He did not come just to be made man. And He did not come merely to preach repentance and forgiveness. He came, from the very moment of His conception, looking towards the cross. While it was important that He take on our own human flesh, and while His Word of forgiveness shouldn’t be downplayed, all of this would have been for nothing if it were not for Christ’s death and resurrection. It was this death and resurrection where He won the ultimate victory over sin, death, and the devil.
And this is why the believers at Palm Sunday had such joyous shouts when they said:
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
They are overjoyed because they know who Jesus is and they know why He has come. He is the one who is the Lord of righteousness, the Son of David, who has come to save His people from their sin. Even though they see the effects of sin, death, and the power of the devil in this world, they know that these things will be defeated by Christ. And Christ did win the victory over these things on the cross, where He died for the sins of the world. He laid down his life as a sacrifice, taking on the full wrath of God over our sins in our place. And then he rose again on the third day, overcoming death once and for all.
And this is why the words of David in psalm 25 are so comforting. We know that God does not put our faith to shame, because He sent His only begotten son into the world to became man and die on the cross for our sin and for the sin of the world. We know that our enemies do not triumph over us because Christ has already triumphed over our enemies when He was raised from the dead, conquering death once and for all.
Furthermore, in your baptism, you are buried into Christ’s own death, where the sinful man in you, the one who Satan consistently points towards to try and convince you that your faith has been put to shame, is put to death with Christ on the cross. And you are raised to new life with Christ’s own resurrection. In this new life, in contrast to the darkness of the old sinful flesh, Christ’s light shines in glory. In this new life you are no longer slaves to Satan and the sinful flesh, but alive in Christ.
So, even though it may appear that Christians are being overwhelmed by the enemies of the Church, that the darkness of sin and death are growing and snuffing out Christianity wherever it is found, rest assured that your faith has not put you to shame. We are not losing the fight against the enemies of God, because Christ Jesus himself has already won that fight when He came down and was made man and died on the cross and was raised the third day. When the anti-Christian mob begins appears to overwhelm us, we point back to this Crucified and risen Christ and to our own Baptism which makes us part of this victory. Not a victory over this present world, but an eternal victory which rests in the Lord of Righteousness, Jesus Christ.