The First Sunday In Advent (Ad Te Levavi) 28-November-21
Sermon Text: Jeremiah 23:5-8
Sermon Theme: “Behold The Branch!” by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert
I.N.R.I. Acts 17:6 “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” The murderous mob raged against Paul’s missionary work in Thessalonika in Acts 17. As we begin a new church year – it is time to “turn the world upside down”! We beg the King Christ Jesus today, “Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come,” The world enslaved by Satan, the Lie, sin, and fear of death lives an upside down life. King Jesus advents – He comes to restore life “right side up.” Our sinful world complains that Christianity is upsets its mob rule of power, sin, and fear. We cry out to King Jesus, Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”
The Advent season calls us to turn from our sin. It is a season of repentance. The color of repentance and royal mourning is violet and it marks this season. The world seeks deliverance from the growing darkness by decorating with lights, buying, selling, seeking the “spirit of the season” apart from King Jesus. They chase the wind. Never satisfied. Never coming to the knowledge of the truth. Advent – Come, Lord Jesus! The truth is that King Jesus has come. He has fulfilled the promise spoken to our fallen father Adam and our fallen mother Eve – He is the Male Seed born of a virgin alone – He has crushed Satan’s head by His suffering and death upon the cross – He has undone sin, death, and hell by His physical resurrection. He ascended on high and rules now over the history of the universe. Advent – Come, Lord Jesus! The Truth is King Jesus still comes among His flock. He is the Good Shepherd – His sheep and lambs hear His voice – in baptism, forgiveness spoken, Scripture read and preached, His prayer echoing in our ears, and at His table filling us with forgiveness, life, and salvation through His living Flesh and Blood fed us. Advent – Come, Lord Jesus! The Truth is King Jesus is coming again soon in all power and glory. The dead will be raised. Every eye will see Him, the books will be opened, judgment will be proclaimed. Hell for all who rejected King Jesus’ gracious gift of righteousness. Life eternal for all who by the Holy Spirit’s gospel calling clung to His nail scarred wounds for salvation.
We now wait. Like the church of the Old Testament who waiting for the day of salvation to dawn – we wait for Jesus’ second Advent. While we wait we learn from the Old Testament. It testifies about King Jesus. God the Holy Spirit teaches us through St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” This church year we will see King Jesus revealed in the Old Testament. Today the prophet Jeremiah calls us to: “Behold The Branch!”
Jeremiah the “weeping prophet.” Born around 650B.C.. Called the by Word of the Lord to be His prophet at 23years of age in 627BC.. He was the last prophet of God preaching in Jerusalem until it was conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586BC. Jeremiah was forced by rebellious Jews to go with them to Egypt. Since he wouldn’t stop preaching Christ’s Word and calling them to repent – they stone him to death in 570BC.. Jeremiah weeps because although he preaches the Lord’s saving Word – no one will listen. If he tried to keep quiet the Word of God caused distress within him, when he preached he was hated.
False prophets, false shepherds, told the people what they wanted to hear. Instead of calling them to repent – they promised them, “peace, peace” where there was no peace. Jeremiah preached the truth – the Lord God would raise up the Babylonians and let them destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. The people of Judah would be exiled to Babylon, modern Iraq/Iran for seventy years – and then a remnant would return – that the Lord’s promise of the Christ would be fulfilled.
Listen! (Vs.5). Salvation wouldn’t be found in their military alliances with Egypt, Assyria, or any other nation. Look away from yourself! Behold! Our God actively works in history. Advent happens – the days come! The Lord – Yahweh – the God of the Promise – speaks His Word. His Word cannot be broken. He promised David that He would raise up one of his descendants to be King forever and His Kingdom would never end.
How could this happen? Jeremiah literally saw the tree of David’s line chopped down to the very trunk. The last king of David’s line king Zedekiah had been caught by King Nebechadnezzar fleeing Jerusalem. The last thing Zedekiah saw were all his sons executed, then his eyes were put out and he was chained and led captive to Babylon. It seemed that the line of David died out. After the 70 years of exile, David’s descendants don’t rule over Judah. It seemed that the root of Jesse, David’s tree had dried up and died at the root.
Behold! This is not man’s doing – it is God’s gift. King Jesus testifies, “Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
From the dead our God calls forth life. His Word creates life in the Virgin’s womb – she is a descendant of David. He is the Root and Offspring of David. He is David’s Son, yet David’s Lord. God become one of us – to rescue us from threatening perils of our sins. He comes to save us by His mighty deliverance.
Today’s Gospel lesson trumpets forth King Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week. He humbly comes to rescue us. His crown will be thorns. His throne the cross. His robe will be all our sin, death, shame, and hell as He hangs naked upon the tree. This is His reign – upside down to the world – salvation for sinners.
He prospers – when you offer His sacrifice for your sins by trusting in Him alone. King Jesus executes judgment by taking the just sentence you deserved into His own innocent flesh. He suffers your hell. He is forsaken for you by God, though even in the darkness He cries out to Him. He does this all, even laying Himself down into death – that by His resurrection He might proclaim to you now His God is our God, His Father is our Father – we are brought near by His blood. He makes His righteousness your own – clothing it upon you in baptism – speaking it to you in absolution – placing it upon your lips in bread and wine.
Come, Lord Jesus! (Vs.6) The Lord has saved His rebellious children. No longer is the Kingdom divided between Judah in to south and Israel to the north. They are made one again. Israel had been slaughtered – still the Lord gathers the new Israel – Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, male and female are all made one in Christ Jesus. Now Christ’s Church – the True Israel dwells safely under the care of King Jesus the Good Shepherd.
Learn well to confess King Jesus’ Name – “The Lord Our Righteousness”. He isn’t the Lord who teaches us to be righteous. He is the Lord who robes us with His own royal robes of righteousness. With another COVID variant discovered in South Africa the world seeks to find salvation in more rules, laws, and mandates. A virus has exposed the weakness and reality that our world is dying. We run to enact more laws to save us. That is the nature of fallen Adam – we are law creatures and think more rules will save us and turn things right side up again. It is a lie whispered by Satan in Eden – you can make a paradise on earth by making up your own rules – be your own gods – save yourselves. Truth is that all our plans only lead to death – no matter how right they seem to our logic.
King Jesus comes not with a new set of commandments. God gave His law through Moses. King Jesus comes to bringing grace and truth. He gifts us His perfect righteousness – all who trust in Him have passed from death to life – no virus can rob them of His life.
Behold the Branch! (Vs. 7-8). King Jesus promised Abraham that He would lead his descendants to the promised land. After 430 years of slavery He led them by Moses out of Egypt. Rejecting His Word and promise that first generation of exiles chose to die in the wilderness. The Lord’s Word is good. He brought them into the land of promise. He gave them His law – and promised to keep them there if they trusted His Word and promise.
Study the history of Israel. They break faith again and again with King Jesus. He doesn’t abandon them, instead He rises up early and stays up late sending them prophet after prophet calling them to turn away from their rebellion. Trust His promise to save them – they rejected Him and their nations are destroyed. Jeremiah weeps – he laments for they rejected their salvation.
Come, Lord Jesus! King Jesus’ promise cannot be broken. He comes as the Good Shepherd to gather His sheep. He doesn’t abandoned them Satan the wolf. Instead He lays down His life for their sake, and then takes it up again. That He might gather His sheep and lambs from all nations into His fold. There is one flock, under David’s Branch – King Jesus – Shepherd Jesus. He calls His little lambs by name, “I baptize you!” ‘My righteousness is yours!” “You are forgiven, restored, redeemed!”
Our world is upside down and backwards deceived by Satan and the Lie. King Jesus has gathered you by His grace today to hear His Word and by His Spirit to trust alone in His righteousness. He has gathered you here into His everlasting Kingdom of grace. Here He joins heaven and earth again as one. Kneeling your rejoice to lift up your voices with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven. He leads us onward through this dark shadowy death filled valley of this dying world towards our true Homeland – the Land of the Living! “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed!” Behold the Branch! Look only to Jesus! “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Come, Lord Jesus – turn our lives right side up by Your Righteousness. Amen.