Advent 1 – "He Comes To Judge The Living And The Dead" – Romans 13:11-14 – 12/1/13

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I. Solomon Prefigures Jesus
In the first chapter of 1st Kings, we read that Solomon, the son of David, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey where he was anointed King of Israel. “And all the people said, ‘Long live king Solomon!” And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.” (1 Kings 38-40) Solomon’s name comes from the familiar Hebrew word for “peace,” “shalom.” It means, ‘man of peace.’

Centuries later, Jesus Christ, the son of David, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The prophet Zechariah had called this day over 500 years before it happened. “Behold, your King is coming to you…” “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 for the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

The parallel account of the coming of these two kings into their kingdoms veer apart from each other after this.
 Solomon wastes his wisdom in selfishness.
 Jesus demonstrates His wisdom in selflessness.

 Solomon rules over an earthly kingdom that, due to his mismanagement is divided by revolution after his death.
 Jesus rules over a heavenly kingdom that, due to his suffering and death, unites what has been broken and establishes real and lasting peace.
Jesus Christ is the greater than Solomon.

It may have seed a bit strange that the gospel for the 1st Sunday is Advent is the Palm Sunday gospel. Palm Sunday leads us to the real BLACK FRIDAY, which has nothing to do with Christmas shopping, although it may have a lot to do with ‘SPECTACULAR SAVINGS.’

But both Palm Sunday and the season of Advent are about the entrance of the King of Kings to His Kingdom, where He is seated on His throne for judgment. But there is an essential difference between the two.

II. His 1st Coming Is To Be Judged
On Palm Sunday, Jesus comes to Jerusalem, lowly, “humble and mounted on a donkey.” The warm reception that He receives on Palm Sunday will turn to a cold rejection by Friday. On Good Friday, Jesus is crowned and seated on His throne, the cross. And a sign was posted over his head that read, “this is Jesus, King of the Jews.”

King Jesus is seated on His throne for judgment. Not TO JUDGE, but TO BE JUDGED. Hadn’t He announced, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (John 12:47). And that is what He does. The guilt of the entire human race from the first man to the last man is pinned onto Him. The INNOCENT ONE gets the death penalty that we all deserve.

In what must be the most tragic case of irony ever, it is guilty mankind who pronounces the judgment on its Creator and King. When it comes to pronouncing His approval for His Son, the Father is quick to open the heavens and declare it. “This is My Son, whom I love, with Whom I am well please.” But when it comes to pronouncing the divine curse upon His Son, the Father has us do all the pronouncing, in order to increase the measure of our guilt. “Crucify Him, crucify Him. We have no king but Caesar.”

And we dare not get all high and mighty and judge the Jews for judging God. We do the same thing all time. In a famous essay entitled, “God In The Dock,” C.S. Lewis exposes us for who we are. In our approach to God, we take the role of judge and jury and we put God on trial. ‘Why do you let this happen? Why don’t you fix that problem? Why don’t you do what we expect a God to do?’ Lewis says, we may be nice about it, and if God has a good explanation for why He permits war and poverty and disease and disasters, the trial may end in acquittal. “But the important thing for us to realize here is that man is the judge and God is on trial.”

“Your King comes to you” to be judged. And if you can believe it, THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world.” (John 3:17).

No, He sent His Son into the world to be CONDEMNED FOR THE WORLD.
 In priceless and perfect love for His people, the King takes our guilt upon Himself and receives the just punishment that we deserve.
 Jesus is innocent but we are guilty.
 But the innocent One is convicted and we are declared RIGHTEOUS.
 On Palm Sunday, Jesus does not sit in judgment OF YOU,
 He sits judgment FOR YOU.

This is what the first Advent is all about. And His resurrection from the dead ought to convince us that this was indeed the will of God. So, even if those pilgrims from long ago couldn’t appreciate what they were saying, we certainly should. ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!’
II. His 2nd Coming Is To Judge
But there is yet a second advent that is yet to come and the one that the season of Advent is to remind us of.

Whereas in His first advent, King Jesus came “humble and mounted on a donkey,” at His 2nd advent, He will come, “in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from the goats.” (Mat.25:31-33).

This is the Advent that we confess every Sunday when we say, “And He will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead.”

When Peter is called to the house of Cornelius the Centurion in Caesarea, he is the watchman who says to those present, “Jesus commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42).

So, at the first Advent, Jesus comes to His Kingdom TO BE JUDGED. But at the second Advent, He comes TO JUDGE the living and the dead.

Now the question is this, what will be the basis of this judgment? How will He judge? The wrong answer is the one which we think is the right answer. We instinctively think that He will judge on the basis of our ‘sin’ or ‘lack of sin.’

I know that this because when we speak about a loved one or friend who has died, we express our confidence that they will be among the ‘living’ because “he was a good person,” because “he lived a good life,” because “she did the best she could.”

But that makes no sense in light of the His 1st Advent. The sins of the whole world have already been judged in Christ and Him crucified.
 It wasn’t a PARTIAL JUDGMENT, but a FULL AND COMPLETE judgment.
 It wasn’t a ‘conditional’ judgment; as in, ‘insofar as you do your part and clean up your sinful life.’
 No, it was an ‘unconditional’ judgment; as in, “for the death He died, He died to sin, once, FOR ALL.” (Rom. 6:10).

When the King comes again, His judgment will be based on our faith. In His own words, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

When God judged the world in the days of NOAH, Noah alone was found to be righteous, not because he was without sin and perfect, but because he believed and trusted in the promises of God and lived his life by faith.

When the verdict in the case of God verses ABRAHAM was announced, Abraham was declared innocent and righteous before God, not because he “lived a good life” and “did his best.” But “Abraham BELIEVED THE LORD and IT was credited to him as righteousness.”

How will you do in the judgment when Jesus comes again? Do not depend on your goodness, and do not despair because of your sinfulness! Your goodness is Jesus… and your sinfulness is Jesus. Just “put on the Lord Jesus Christ…”

He comes to judge the living and the dead. We should therefore, strive to have a LIVING FAITH and not a DEAD FAITH.

A DEAD FAITH says all the right words and goes through all the right motions, but trusts none of it. It either strives to live a good and pious life SO THAT he will be saved. Or it doesn’t strive at all, because if God has forgiven all of our sins in Christ, then we are free to sin all the more that grace may abound.

But a LIVING FAITH strives to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light,” NOT SO THAT we may be saved, but because we HAVE BEEN saved by Christ’s precious blood shed and this is our response of gratitude.

So, “Let us cast off the works of darkness,” which we do by CONFESSING them. And not ‘in general,’ but by naming them specifically by name. St. Paul directs the Christians in his day to “cast off”, “orgies and drunkenness, sexual immorality and sensuality, quarreling and jealousy.”

Each one of us need to DAILY examine our own lives and CAST OFF our sins by NAMING THEM, AND CONFESSING THEM. To CONFESS them is to HAND THEM OVER. You HAND OVER your works of darkness to Jesus who canceled them on His cross. And He sets us free from them.

And then, as often as we CONFESS our WORKS OF DARKNESS, we REPENT. We vow to change our behavior. CONFESSION and the FORGIVENESS we receive apart from REPENTENCE is CHEAP GRACE, DEAD FAITH.

Paul says, “Put on the armor of light.” And just what is this ‘armor of light’ that we are to PUT ON? Paul explains himself just two verses later. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

There is no other armor that we may put on by which we may RESIST AND PUT OFF our “works of darkness” than Jesus Christ Himself. To PUT ON ‘self-confidence’, or ‘positive thinking,’ or ‘pious behavior’ is no armor at all. The devil can pierce through all of that like it was tissue paper.

There is only one armor that the devil cannot pierce and that can truly protect you allow us to live with freedom and without fear, even while surrounded by “works of darkness,” and that is “the Lord, Jesus Christ.”

In fact, you have already “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” in your baptism. To us, it is an invisible armor. Making the sign of the cross can be a helpful way to remind us of the armor we put in our baptism. But to the devil and all the powers of darkness, it is very visible and they cannot stand against it.

We put on the “armor of light” every time we take His body and blood into our body in the Lord’s Supper. Here, at His table, the King executes His final judgment on us, one at a time. To those who do not recognize His body and blood, judgment. To those who receive Him in true faith, forgiveness for all of our ‘works of darkness’ and the strengthening of our faith, so that we may ‘make no provisions for the flesh, to gratify its desires.’

St. Paul couches all of this in a real sense of urgency. He knows how prone to procrastination we are. “You know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone, the day is at hand.”

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