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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz


Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!

The sermon text for our meditation today is the Gospel Lesson for this First Sunday in Advent, Luke 19:28-40. There we read these words:

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 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. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’" So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of it." And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 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, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out."

We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN

In this Gospel lesson, we read that Jesus sent two disciples to find Him a colt to ride. Jesus also gave these two disciples a sermon to preach along the way: "If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.'"

Dear Christian friends. This Gospel Lesson is a good Gospel for Advent, even though it sounds like it should be read on Palm Sunday or during Holy Week. Advent means "arrival" or "coming." Today’s Gospel depicts the sort of Christ who has come and who interacts with people on a daily basis.

These Words, "The Lord has need of it," show a picture of the God who has come into your midst, in order to save you from your sins (Matthew 1:21) and to be with you forever. The Words, "The Lord has need of it," depict your God’s favorite way of dealing with each of you personally—you and me and all the baptized children of Christ.

In the book of Job we read these words, "Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine" (Job 41:11). Yet this very same God—the penniless God in today’s Gospel—now needs to borrow a donkey. God thunders from the book of Psalms, "If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are Mine" (Psalm 50:12).

God has no needs! Yet the God-Who-Has-No-Needs now tells people to say in today’s Gospel, "The Lord has need of it." This poverty of Jesus is the mark of an extraordinarily loving and exceedingly merciful God! NOTHING was so important to your God that He wasn’t willing to give it up for you.

Stained Glass Baptism Window

Thus it is written concerning Jesus: "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:5-7).

These Words mean that God the Son did not cling to anything for Himself. He fully opened His fingers and dropped everything that He once had, so that He may gain and grasp and take possession of you.

St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:9, "[This is] the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thought He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich". In other words, the Lord and Creator of the Universe so abandoned everything that, in today’s Gospel, He needs to bum a ride to His own cross and death.

"The Lord has need of it." These Words do more than describe your Lord’s poverty for your sake. "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head," says the Lord (Luke 9:58).

Even so, the Lord has need of that donkey in today’s Gospel more for you than for Himself! The Lord has need of that donkey in very much the same way that He likewise has need of water for His gift of Baptism, or bread and wine for His gift of Holy Communion.

The Lord has need of these things, not for Himself, but for you and for your salvation; for your assurance and certainty; for your consolation and your comfort.

Simply stated, "The Lord has need of it" because GOD WORKS THROUGH STUFF. Today’s Gospel gives you a good picture of how and why God sees fit to work through stuff—through donkeys, through water, through bread and wine. Think about the situation in today’s Gospel: Yes, Jesus is as poor as a church mouse. Nevertheless, Jesus is still God!

By a command from this man’s mouth, bodies get healed and dead people get raised. Despite His poverty, do not forget that Jesus is still the man who effortlessly walked on the water (Mark 6:48-49). This is the man who strolled through the angry lynch mob at Nazareth (Luke 4:29-30). In the book of Acts, Jesus made His servant Philip disappear from one place and then suddenly reappear in another place, ten or twenty miles away (Acts 8:39-40).

Now in today’s Gospel, Jesus needs a ride? Yes, Jesus needs a ride. "The Lord has need of it," not for Himself, and not merely because He has no money for the bus. Jesus needs a ride for your sake—for your certainty and for your salvation.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus wants you to know beyond all doubt that He is the fulfillment of God’s ancient promise, "Behold, your King is coming to you, righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt the foal of a beast of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9).

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

Jesus has need of a donkey because He knows you need to see the donkey! Jesus is your God. That means Jesus personally does not need the water of Baptism any more than He needs some smelly donkey.

Yet Jesus knows how much you need the water. By riding a donkey in today’s Gospel, Jesus gave those crowds of people an historical record. He gave them a specific act for their salvation. In this Gospel, Jesus gave His dear people something to which they could cling; something to which they could return; something they could cherish for the rest of their lives:

And as He rode along [on that flea-bitten donkey], they spread their cloaks on the road. … 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, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

A historical record, a specific act they could see and understand, something to cherish for the rest of their lives—all accomplished by Jesus borrowing a donkey.

Has not your God likewise accomplished the same thing for you in your Baptism? Jesus is God. He does not need any water. He could save you by the mere blink of an eye—and yet He calls for water, just as He called for donkey in today’s Gospel. The Lord has need of the water of Baptism in the same way that He has need of a donkey:

He needs Baptismal water for you and for your salvation. Jesus needs to come to you through water for your certainty and assurance. Jesus needs the water of Baptism so that you have something to hold; something to remember; something that will cause you also to rejoice and say, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Nothing less should be said of Holy Communion, either! Jesus rode to His suffering and death by means of a donkey. Now Jesus rides away from His cross—victorious over sin and death—and He arrives here among you riding bread and wine.

"The Lord has need of it." These Words describe the very essence of God’s tender mercy toward you.

"The Lord has need of it." Victorious over everything that would destroy you, God in Christ still loves to ride stuff around. He does it for you, that you may never doubt His on-going Advent among you.

Christ is Risen.

Luther Rose


Christ Is Risen
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