Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sermon -- Mid-Week Advent – 2nd Wednesday (December 13, 2017)

LUKE 1:26,31-33

TO WHOM DOES JESUS COME?
With Comfort to Him Who Waits.

In the name + of Jesus.

     In Psalm 46, the Lord speaks: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  The Lord says this to his people throughout history.  The Lord makes his promises, and God's people wait.  Waiting is hard.  There is nothing we can do to change God's time table.  We simply must endure whatever it is we are going through, confident that God will be faithful to his promises, that God will grant peace, and that God will save.
     The waiting game started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  As soon as a Savior for sinners was needed because there were sinners who needed to be saved, God promised one.  Adam and Eve repeated that promise to future generations, but they were still waiting for it to be fulfilled when they died.  Noah had to wait on the ark for more than a year before he walked on dry ground again.  Abraham waited 25 years for the Lord to give him the son he had promised.  Israel waited under the bondage of slavery for 400 years until the Lord raised up Moses.  Regarding the Promised Land, it was for centuries that the Israelites had the promise but not the land.  Waiting was hard.  Many never witnessed the fulfillment of God's promises.  They could only take to heart God's assurance: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  In other words, do not despair.  God is true.  God is faithful.  He will not forget his promises.  Just wait.
     Some of God's promises appeared to dissolve into disappointing failure.  Consider the promise that the Lord had made to David when David had planned to build the temple.  “Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.  When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.  When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him....  And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.  Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:11-16)  
     The Lord's promise to David was that his throne would endure forever, and a son from his own body would reign there.  But after about 400 years, due to Israel's unfaithfulness to the Lord, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and put an end to the kings of Israel.  David's throne was reduced to ashes.  Eventually, Israelites resettled in the land, but David's line was never restored.  Israel only knew foreign kings.  By the time Jesus was born, the land was ruled by an Edomite named Herod.  It seemed that God's promises were not kept.
     So it seemed.  But God is true.  God is faithful.  God does not forget his promises.  Although there was no earthly reason to believe it could happen, there were some in Israel who believed that God would do what he said.  God would establish David's throne.  The son of David would have a kingdom that endures forever.  God would be faithful.  They needed only to wait, to be still, and to let God be God.  “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  For, God is true.  And God does remember his promises.  To whom does Jesus come?  With comfort to him who waits.
     Long after God had first promised to Adam and Eve, long after God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, long after God had promised to David, God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth to let a virgin teenager know that God had remembered his promises.  The wait would come to an end.  The Savior, at long last, would come.  The angel said to her, “Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33) 
     To whom does Jesus come?  With comfort to him who waits.  To those who live in guilt because of their sins—whether you live in the shame of your foolish, regretible moment or you live in the frustration of giving into your weakness again and again—Jesus has come with forgiveness.  To those who long to be relieved of the bitterness and miseries of this world, Jesus has come with mercy.  To those who are waiting for a better kingdom and a more enduring peace than this world can offer, Jesus has come to save.  For centuries, God's people waited, and God proved faithful and true.  God sent Jesus to save people from shame, from guilt, from frustration, and from misery.  He comes with comfort to him who waits.
     God reigns on high, and the devil can't do anything about that.  But we live here, and the devil afflicts us regularly.  We have no chance of fighting off the devil.  Therefore, God left his throne on high to enter our world and to become one of us.  He took on the nature of humanity in the womb of Mary while retaining the nature of God.  By becoming man, Jesus made himself one with our race and submitted himself to temptations of the devil, to obedience to God, and to death on the cross.  This man, unlike all other men, overcame all temptations; he did not lose his kingdom to the devil.  This man, unlike all other men, gave perfect obedience to God; he did not lose God's favor.  And this man, for the sake of all other men, died under God's curse with our sins.  This is the cost to deliver you from sin, death, and the devil.  And this is what brings you into the kingdom of God.
     To whom does Jesus come?  With comfort to him who waits.  Jesus gave his life as the ransom to deliver you from the devil.  And then Jesus rose from the dead to live and reign over a kingdom that endures forever.  The Son of David, Jesus, the man from Nazareth, lives and reigns forever.  His kingdom is a rule of grace and forgiveness and life everlasting.  Jesus has been pleased to rescue you from the devil's claim and to bring you into his joyous kingdom forevermore.  Since Jesus cannot die again, his kingdom endures forever.  And since you have been marked by Jesus' blood, you will live and reign with him.  His claim on you endures.  His forgiveness remains upon you.  This is the comfort Jesus delivers to sinners in his word and sacraments.  And this comfort cannot be destroyed by anything the devil or this world can do.
     To whom does Jesus come?  With comfort to him who waits.  And the Church still waits.  We are waiting to be delivered out of the miseries and sorrows that afflict us in this life.  We are waiting to be freed from our own regrets and weaknesses from our sins.  We are waiting for death to be destroyed and eternal peace and joy to be ours.  Each of us is waiting to be relieved of whatever is personally grieving and afflicting us.  Just as God was true and faithful in the past, so he will be with our everlasting peace and rest.  So, we wait.  We are still.  For, God remembers his promises.  And while you wait, God continues to remind you of those promises.
     The Lord Jesus lives and reigns.  His kingdom endures forever.  His mercy is yours.  Be still, and know that God will never stop being God—the true and faithful Savior, and the comfort of sinners.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.