06 December 2012
StJohn – Wannatah / LaCrosse
Grace Mercy & Peace – text from Holy Spirit – Apostle Luke 19:19-40
Well, we’ve just passed through the Thanksgiving season. Where our National focus has hypothetically been on thankfulness for what we have as Americans. Each of us focus on giving thanks for good families, wonderful friends, our great country where we enjoy many, many freedoms, and for those who make sacrifices so that our needs and safety are guaranteed. Yes, we focus on giving thanks for many things.
Yet, I dare suggest that if a survey was done on the street, during what is now the busiest shopping season of the year,… if we asked average America WHO they gave thanks TO last week and who they are focused on NOW, that it would not be the same single focus point as you and I have. I’m sure you would agree with me that for the beginning of each day, each worship service, each prayer we offer and each meal we eat our focus is on the same individual who is the center of today’s Gospel text. As a matter of fact:
AS JESUS’ FOCUS IS ON HIS DESTINATION,
OUR THANKFUL FOCUS IS ON HIS GIFT PAID THERE AS WELL AS OUR ULTIMATE DESTINATION.
II. Jesus’ focus
28 And when [Jesus] had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 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. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” 32 So those who were sent, went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road..
Here, in this text, we are mid-way through Chapter 19 of Luke. We should recall that Jesus has recently spoken of His future. In Luke 18:32 He reminds the twelve that:
“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”
Jesus KNOWS where He is bound for and He tells the twelve both the geographic location AND the ultimate sacrifice which He is to pay. Thus, they keep on walking to where Jesus has attempted to put their attention. Then, on His way to Jerusalem…the location of His focused destination, they passed through Jericho where He told them:
“Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
[PAUSE]“…to save the lost.” Jesus gives this explanation upon calling a notoriously wealthy tax collector, Zacchaeus, to faith and repentance. Immediately afterward, Luke tells us that Jesus continues to teach in parable of His necessary departure and return (in Luke 18:11)
“…because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately”
He returns to the Abrahamic promise in attempts to keep the twelve focused on the prophecies. Remember the prophecies? God promised Abraham that his children would be as the number of stars in the heavens. Isaiah wrote of God’s promise that
“the ransomed of the Lord shall return…” and sing with “…everlasting joy…and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 36:10)
Yes,…everlasting joy for the Lord’s lost. BUT first remember, the OTHER prophecies as Jesus had attempted to during recent weeks, to focus the disciples’ attention,
“…he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Why, Jesus attempts continued in today’s text… with the intentional fulfilling of Zechariah’s [9:9] prophecy
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Yes, Jesus had His focus…on His destination. And He made every attempt to cause His disciples to focus there as well. What of our focus? Today… [Date of Delivery] are we focused on Jerusalem?
III. Our focus
Today is the first Sunday in the church season of Advent. Advent means…. “coming” But for us… what or what is coming? Are we looking forward to four short weeks when Santa will come? Is our focus on the coming of all those relatives (yet again) for another big celebration? Are we focused on the coming of all those packages for our enjoyment? [PAUSE]
The World tells us that we should focus on huge extravagant meals for friends & family. The World tells us that we should focus on our anticipation of what our friends and family will GIVE to US by piling it under the Tree. The World wants us to think that we can sin now, yet ask for forgiveness later. That we can wait for the SECOND advent of our Lord to throw ourselves on His mercy…That we only need to change our focus to our Lord when He returns, descending in the clouds. And then we will receive forgiveness of our sins.
Are we focusing on the things the World wants us to focus on? OR are we focused on the things our Lord wants us to be focused on? Are we watching for what can’t be predicted? Our unknown Worldly presents? OR is our focus on the one who had the focus of those in Jerusalem that day when a single rider road in on a donkey?
IV. Important Focus
37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—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, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
The crowd was focused on Jesus…their Messiah. They were quoting Scripture and proclaiming Him to be their king. The crowd even paraphrased our Lord’s first arrival…in Bethlehem. Here, it is the multitude of disciples saying…“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” In Chapter Two, Luke records the multitude of angels saying…“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…”
Although there is a confusion amongst the people. Their focus is on the Christ…it is on Jesus! This is where our focus should be… on Jesus! NOT on gifts… NOT on family gatherings… NOT on debt…but on RICHNESS. The richness that we all share in BECAUSE of our Lord’s Focus on His mission. In our text, we are told that Christ was focused on His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. His Triumph was only a few short days or weeks ahead. His Triumph when He would pay that ultimate sacrifice for your sins and mine…for the sins of the entire world… for ALL TIME!
Here, in our text, we witness our Lord’s Advent into Jerusalem. He is focused on you and me during that Advent! AND He is still focused on us,,, this Advent…today…NOW!
As this year’s Advent season progresses let us not get lost. Let us not have our focus changed by the world around us. Today, we celebrate the beginning of Advent. We celebrate the Advent of our Lord. Let us not go into a frenzy and lose the Christ child among those other things that are coming as well. Let us not focus on Worldly things, but let us focus on Heavenly gifts. Let us have our focus be on our Lord’s first Advent – on Christ-mass. When He came, born of a Virgin on that first Christ-mass, our Lord’s focus from then on was His ultimate coming into Jerusalem, where He would greatly suffer and die, He was focused on the giving of His very Body and Blood on the cross. Such that your sins and mine would be forgiven! So that when His second advent occurs, when He returns to call all mankind before the throne of God, you and I will again receive His focus as you and I are invited into the New Creation. To spend all eternity with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit…to live in never ending light, joy and peace.
Unlike the gifts which will await you under the tree in four weeks, this most precious gift is already yours. The gift was given to you, not under the tree, but UPON THE TREE of Calvary. Christ set His Divinity aside on that day, He spread His arms in Submission to His Father’s will, and DIED for you and for me on that Cross. He gave up His very body and blood so that you and I could come before God and continue to receive the blessings of His most precious gift.
So as we our Lord’s first Advent…today, let us also look towards His second coming as well.
+ in nomine jesu +
May the peace with passes all understanding keep your focus on Jesus Christ. Amen.