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Posts Tagged ‘Ascension’

Lessons:

Acts 1: 1-11

Ephesians 1: 15-23

St. Luke 24: 44-53

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
    He was manifested in the flesh,
   vindicated by the Spirit,
       seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
       taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3: 16

This year’s calendar has a juxtaposition of two holy days:  The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven and Yom HaShoah, the Day of Holocaust and the Remembrance of the Six Million Jews.  I think they have a commonality between the two of them: remembrance.

 Our Jewish neighbors urge us to never forget the concentration camps set up in the middle of Christian Europe, in other words:  remember.  The verb “remember” is a key one in St. Luke’s Gospel and in all the Bible.  Peter remembered what Jesus said about Peter’s denial when he heard the cock crow three times and he wept bitterly.  Peter knew his sin.  He was reminded and remembered (cf.Luke 22:61).  When the repentant thief on the cross confesses his just sentence of judgment and his confession of Christ, the thief prayed: “And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)  The angels at the tomb tell the women, 

St. Luke 24: “And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words…(emphasis my own)”

And every week the Lord commands us in His Supper of His true Body and Blood:

“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

The Church calendar is for remembrance, as we remember our Lord’s Ascension to the Father to be with His Church in ways He could not in Galilee.  Maybe the Church is last community of memory left in our anti-cultural nation and world, yet many congregations just want to focus on the here and now of one’s spiritual jollies.  The remembrance is of sin, as in Yom HaShoah, or Ash Wednesday and of forgiveness, Good Friday and of hope, the Resurrection and the Ascension.  And Sundays are a reminder of all the above. The Church Year is like post-it notes of remembrance for our souls.  

We are living in a time of forgetfulness of the great deeds of the Lord… and of our nation.  So many times the prophets, the poets and patriarchs remembered or encouraged Israel to remember.  Not remembering is the doom of repeating the horrors of our sin. 

You tell a friend about your mother that she is sick.  Please pray for her, you ask your friend.   A week your friend asks you, How’s your Mom?  In your heart, you rejoice because your friend remembered.  You know your friend prayed for your Mom.  You doubly rejoice.  “Thanks for remembering”. You remembered!  What a sad response:  I forgot. “And (the women) remembered (Christ’s) words.” 

Christ is risen!  Remembering is thanksgiving.  Our lives are one of remembrance in Christ.  The devil’s strategy is for us to forget.  We are baptized to remember His Word as it points out where we have gone astray and ever points us to the living Way Who is Christ, the crucified and risen Lord. We must remember all the deeds of the Lord. 

Remembering is learning.  Tests in school, and trials in life, are to see if we do remember.  Tests and trials also are for us to remember our lessons and our Lord.  The purpose of school is not for us to feel good about the subject matter, but to learn it.  Jesus risen was taught by the angels and the women.  When we forget, we die.  Remember what He told you.  We must learn.  We are learning in Christ to love as He first loved us.  He had said three times, the Son of Man MUST suffer, be killed and rise again.  The women remembered because the angels reminded them, as do angels in our lives. Remember the Holocaust. Remember His Ascension.  A divine MUST all the way around is His death and resurrection and so acquiring and learning by faith His resurrected life for us and for our salvation. 

“O Holy Trinity, You Self-sufficient Love, ignite also in our hearts this fire of Your Love.”

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Gospel Reading:  St. John 17:11b–19

You may remember some of the spy movies during the Cold War, when some American crosses over into the Soviet Union and a brusque guard commands, Let me see your papers.  Having actually experienced that back then in a Lutheran college trip to Russia and Eastern Europe in the ‘70s, I can verify that is no fiction. We saw Soviet soldiers in the middle of the night on the train into Russia literally rifling through our train seats looking for contraband, such as Bibles and Fascist literature.  For all my laissez-faire progressivism, I began to realize that we had crossed the border from freedom into slavery.  Jesus sends out His Apostles fully aware that He is sending them into slave lands.  The entirety of John 17 is the Lord’s Prayer to the Father in the Holy Spirit for His apostles.  He prays, 

 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” 

Jesus prays they be kept from the evil one, because the world is God’s good creation but  without faith, hope and love,it became the “world” and has as it’s ruler  the devil.  Jesus sends them into a world that has hated them.  Too long too many churches have wanted to be loved by world, accepted by the world, adopting their morals, life styles of the rich and famous…it is the stuff of the news and the world pats those churches on the back and says that’s nice, go sit over there.  Too long have churches wanted to hate the world and worldly people.  Jesus did not send the Apostles into the world to hate the people in it, but even to love your enemies and pray for those who persecuted you.  Jesus died for His enemies, us.  “When the devil is mocked, he sheds the blood of the mockers. When God was mocked, He shed His blood on the mockers.” (Pr. Hans Fiene).  

All of John chapter 17 is literally the Lord’s Prayer.  He prayed this in the night in which He was betrayed.  The prayer we call the Lord’s Prayer is actually the disciples’ prayer, the Church’s prayer to her ascended Lord, the head of the Church, as He taught us.  Jesus knew He was sending His apostles into the world and He knew exactly the kind of world He was sending them. He knew the stratagems of the evil one, from along time ago in a garden to a desert fasting to a garden called Gethsemane. Here in John 17, He prayed they be kept from the evil one. He taught us to pray, Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one. 

The evil one desires to blur the border between the Church and the world with our complicity.  He first did so at the border around a tree, of the knowledge of good and evil, as if the knowledge of the Lord were not enough.  He blurred it by asking, Did God say?  Eve and Adam were complicit and said, Yes to the devil’s lie as he misrepresent the truth of God’s Word. The line was blurred and sin entered the world and made the world worldly. 

Jesus sent the apostles into this dark world for the life of the world, with the light of His Word of His death and resurrection, if you forgive the sins of any they are forgive, if you retain the sins of any they are retain.  He sent them out with message of repentance and forgiveness, of washing in Holy Baptism in the Name of the Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all He has commanded and Lo, He says, I am with you always even unto the end of the age. And the devil like those Russian soldiers will rifle through your heart, telling you do not believe enough, have not done enough, and as Luther, say, I know that devil but I have a mighty Lord who died and rose and ascended for me and He is with me, even to the end. 

When a church begins to look, act and feel like the age we live in, like the world, then it is lost all over again.  When a church walks the counsel of  the wicked from the counsel of so many TV shows, blogs and magazines, such as, “follow your heart”, “you are your own best friend”, “look out for number 1”, “be all that you can be”, then its bound to fall.  When a church stands in the way of the sinners, then its way is the dead end of hell. When a church seats in the seat of the scornful denying Scriptural truth with worldly theologians then it will become fat and indolent in its conceits. When a church walks the wide and easy path, it will lead to destruction. Walking, sitting and standing then that church is on a road to nowhere.  Our delight is in His Law, in His Word, every Word of the Bible. When crossing the threshold of a church building, however religious it may look, into a building where the Word is not preached in all it’s saving purity and soundness, that church will only extend worldly darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great the darkness will be, warned our Lord. And you have beheld the light of His Word, clearly Law and Promise and the light of  the knowledge of God shining in the face of Christ.

The Lord clearly sends out the apostles with the understanding that you are going into the world, the cosmos, which is against God, in the world, but not of the world, into slave lands.    No one will say explicitly, Let me see your papers, but the world will do so implicitly:  “Are you trying to impose your morality?”  “Who do you think you are?  God almighty?!”  “Hey, I do good!”  No, we are not angels but neither are we beasts (Fr. Richard John Neuhaus), as we are the Lord’s own in Baptism. 

We have no papers to show, no certificate from Synodical headquarters that we have attained a certain level of holiness, and we are reluctant to show our good works because they are not even our own…we can only show the Cross, Jesus. Christ is our freedom to be His servants. Thomas More was King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor.  More did not go along with his King’s lust for a divorce.  As More said,  we are “the king’s good servants, but God’s first.” And we are the king’s better servants because we are God’s first (Fr. Neuhaus). 

Jesus says, “And you will be my witnesses.”  Paul wrote of the apostles that we are Christ’s ambassadors.  Yet, ambassadors of a disputed sovereignity. Jesus sent out the Apostles to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the end of the earth, across so many borders, languages, cultures.  All three of today’s lessons are about witness and testimony. Jesus told the Apostles: You are my witnesses into the world. The Church and her people follows His outstretched arm. Ours is not to master the public but to make public the Master. Someone may be dying to hear a good word this week, tell of Christ, give your witness when asked for a defense of the hope that is in you, but do with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

The odds are stacked against the church maybe in order to show from whom comes the power of Pentecost. As a 2nd century Christian wrote a Roman official about the Christians: 

 “They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land.” 

All three lessons refer to prayer.  The apostles, and Mary and Jesus’ brothers between Ascension and Pentecost, next Sunday, were 9 days in prayer, praying the Psalms.  John wrote His congregation and encouraged them to pray that they will be heard. Thy Kingdom Come has  been answered when the Lord takes hold of your heart through His Word of His forgiveness crossing the border with His mercy.  But it has not been answered fully, but it will be.  Then the Gospel:  the Lord’s prayer.  But the Lord did not just pray once for the Church.  In the 1,933 year of His sitting at the right hand of the Father, If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. It is not our prayers alone but in union with the Lord’s Prayer, “interceding for us”, the ascended Lord, at the right hand of the Father which is every  where His Word and people are.   “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

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From The Book of Concord:  The Lutheran Confessions, The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, Article VII, 27-30:

“… since He has ascended, not merely as any other saint, to heaven, but, as the apostle testifies [ Eph. 4:10 ], above all heavens, and also truly fills all things, and being everywhere present, not only as God, but also as man [has dominion and] rules from sea to sea and to the ends of the earth; as the prophets predict, Ps. 8:1,693:1f ; Zech. 9:10, and the apostles testify, Mark 16:20, that He everywhere wrought with them and confirmed their word with signs following. 28] Yet this occurred not in an earthly way, but, as Dr. Luther explains, according to the manner of the right hand of God, which is no fixed place in heaven, as the Sacramentarians assert without any ground in the Holy Scriptures, but nothing else than the almighty power of God, which fills heaven and earth, in [possession of] which Christ is installed according to His humanity… that is, in deed and truth, sine confusione et exaequatione naturarum, that is, without confusion and equalizing of the two natures in their essence and essential properties; 29] by this communicated [divine] power, according to the words of His testament, He can be and truly is present with His body and blood in the Holy Supper, to which He has directed us by His Word; this is possible to no other man, because no man is in such a way united with the divine nature, and installed in such divine almighty majesty and power through and in the personal union of the two natures in Christ, as Jesus, the Son of Mary. 30] For in Him the divine and the human nature are personally united with one another, so that in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, Col. 2:9, and in this personal union have such a sublime, intimate, ineffable communion that even the angels are astonished at it, and, as St. Peter testifies, have their delight and joy in looking into it [ 1 Pet. 1:12 ]”

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Lessons:

Acts 1: 1-11

Ephesians 1: 15-23

St. Luke 24: 44-53

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
    He was manifested in the flesh,
   vindicated by the Spirit,
       seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
       taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3: 16

 

Ephesians 3:   14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 The Lord’s Church, His Body  of whom He is our head, is multi-dimensional: “…the breadth and length and height and depth”.  The Lord’s Ascension is the fulfillment of the Church in Him that is not merely 3 dimensional, but 4 dimensional, that is, in space and  time.  The Ascension of our Lord is about:

looking back

looking up

looking out

and

looking forward.

  •  Looking back to the entire record of the Bible and the Lords’ saving acts in Israel and now in Jesus Christ for Israel and the entire world, so we are strengthened in our souls through faith by His grace revealed in history.  The Bible is God’s own Word inspired by the Lord and  recorded by men that we may know the Way.
  •  Looking up in faith in prayer to the Lord as He ascended, so we may know where He is leading us.  The Church, and the world, does not live in the time after Christ,  but in the time under Christ. Christ Jesus is Prophet, Priest and King and from His three fold office we receive grace upon grace.  Prophet:  His preaches His Word to all creation.  Priest:  Our Great High Priest officiates at His Table His Body and Blood.  King:  He rules His Church and creation by His Word as we awaiting for the coming of the Kingdom in all its fullness.
  •  Looking out for each other is the service that fellow pilgrims and companions offer to one another.  “Watch out” is caution.  The Lord’s looks out for us in His Law, in which the Lord direly warns: “Watch out”.  Looking out for one another is to encourage each other as we see the Day approaching.
  •  Looking forward for the Kingdom coming, begun in Jesus Christ is our God-given hope and faith. As it is written in 1 Corinthians 11, as oft as we eat of this Bread and drink of this Cup (Holy Communion) we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.  The vain world thinks this is it, that is, this world and this life as it thinks it has life in itself. It does not.  Christ is crucified, Christ is risen, Christ is ascended, Christ will come again. We look to the “pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 11) to the Day. 

“Sursum Corda”, literally, Hearts Lifted, as in Lift up your hearts, we lift them up to the Lord.  He has done the heavy lifting.  He intercedes for His Body on earth so our minds are set in hope on things above. His love is for us all in all space and time, in all dimensions.

On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build
By: Josua Wegelin

On Christ’s ascension I now build
The hope of my ascension;
This hope alone has always stilled
All doubt and apprehension;
For where the head is, there as well
I know his members are to dwell
When Christ will come and call them.

Since Christ returned to claim his throne,
Great gifts for me obtaining,
My heart will rest in him alone,
No other rest remaining;
For where my treasure went before,
There all my thoughts will ever soar
To still their deepest yearning.

Oh, grant, dear Lord, this grace to me,
Recalling your ascension,
That I may serve you faithfully,
Adorning your redemption;
And then, when all my days will cease,
Let me depart in joy and peace
In answer to my pleading.

Hymn # 150 from Lutheran Worship
Author: Etlich Christlich lider
Tune: Nun Freut Euch
1st Published in: 1524

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  • Jesus was born of the house and lineage of David,  descended, according to the flesh, from King David.
  • His Mother was a devout Jew.  His step-Father also a faithful son of Israel. They observed all the required sacrifices in the Temple.
  • His Body, our Temple became the ultimate sacrifice.
  • Jesus was born in the city of David, Bethlehem.
  • On His 8th day of life, according to the Covenant the LORD God established with Abraham and his descendants, Jesus was circumcised.
  • Jesus taught in the synagogue of Nazareth.
  • Jesus observed the great Festivals of Israel, in particular, The Pesach, the Passover. His last meal was Passover.
  • Jesus kept the Sabbath and rested in death on the Sabbath, routing hell.
  • By His Word through His touch He healed the sick, the blind, the deaf, the mute, the dead.
  • By His Word He multiplied wine and bread.
  • His hands blessed and broke the bread.
  • His hands were bound as a common criminal.
  • His head was crowned with thorns shedding His blood.
  • He was a carpenter and bore the work of another carpenter:  the cross.
  • He walked the length and breadth of the Land of Promise.
  • His  feet were nailed to the cross.
  • His side was pierced by a Roman spear and blood and water flowed out.
  • He said the Son of Man has no where to lay His Head.
  • He was laid in a tomb.
  • And as He said, on the third day He rose again.
  • For for 40 days,  in His resurrected body He ate and drank and showed many His hands and His side.
  • On the 40th Day, He ascended into heaven: with the scars of the cross, the mark of the circumcision, the hands that healed and broke the bread blessed His apostles one last time…a true man, a Jewish man, was taken up into heaven and sits upon the right hand of God the Father.  Jesus is true God before all worlds were created.
  • He came down from heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary.  He left so we are born from above in Him in Holy Baptism. 
  • Only He who descended from David, could ascend, true God and true man. He left to come again and we will discover the true nature of His promise:  “I am with you always even unto the end of the age”.  He will come again as He never left. He’s always been with us.

His ascension is man’s exaltation.  As much as we exalt ourselves, at the expense of others, we do so to distance ourselves from others. He is exalted to be close to us all.  His exaltation is His humiliation and in that humiliation His love and mercy for Israel and the whole human race is poured out through His life and crucifixion and resurrection.  He humiliated Himself to bring us close to His bosom and He ascended and is exalted to be close to us all.

For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
   but the haughty he knows from afar.

How high is heaven?  Very far away for the proud and self-exalted. But near for the lowly, for those who pray by looking up to Him Who came down for all.

 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
   and your right hand delivers me. (Psalm 138)

His right hand has delivered us:  Thanks be to Jesus Christ!

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Lessons:

Acts 1: 1-11

Ephesians 1: 15-23

St. Luke 24: 44-53

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
    He was manifested in the flesh,
   vindicated by the Spirit,
       seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
       taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3: 16

  • Jesus was born of the house and lineage of David,  descended, according to the flesh, from King David.
  • His Mother was a devout Jew.  His step-Father also a faithful son of Israel. They observed all the required sacrifices in the Temple.
  • Jesus was born in the city of David, Bethlehem.
  • On His 8th day of life, according to the Covenant the LORD God established with Abraham and his descendants, Jesus was circumcised.
  • Jesus taught in the synagogue of Nazareth.
  • Jesus observed the great Festivals of Israel, in particular, The Pesach, the Passover.His last meal was Passover.
  • Jesus kept the Sabbath.
  • By His Word through His touch He healed the sick, the blind, the deaf, the mute, the dead.
  • By His Word He multiplied wine and bread.
  • His hands blessed and broke the bread.
  • His hands were bound as a common criminal.
  • His head was crowned with thorns shedding His blood.
  • He was a carpenter and bore the work of another carpenter:  the cross.
  • His hands and feet were nailed to the cross.
  • His side was pierced by a Roman spear and blood and water flowed out.
  • He was laid in a tomb.
  • And as He said, on the third day He rose again.
  • For for 40 days,  in His resurrected body He ate and drank and showed many His hands and His side.
  • On the 40th Day, He ascended into heaven: with the scars of the cross, the mark of the circumcision, the hands that healed and broke the bread blessed His apostles one last time…a true man, a Jewish man, was taken up into heaven and sits upon the right hand of God the Father.  Jesus is true God before all worlds were created.

His ascension is man’s exaltation.  As much as we exalt ourselves, at the expense of others, we do so to distance ourselves from others. He is exalted to be close to us all to lift us up by His Word and Sacraments. He is exalted to be near to us, Emmanuel, God with us, “This is My Body”  “This is My Blood”, His Word in our ears then our hearts.   His exaltation is His humiliation and in that humiliation His love and mercy for Israel and the whole human race is poured out through His life and crucifixion and resurrection.  He humiliated Himself to bring us close to His bosom and He ascended and is exalted to be close to us all.

For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
   but the haughty he knows from afar.

How high is heaven?  Very far away for the proud and self-exalted. But near for the lowly, for those who pray by looking up to Him Who came down for all.

 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
   and your right hand delivers me. (Psalm 138)

Seated on the right hand of the Father, and the Father’s right hand Man, true Lord,  is everywhere. How did the risen Jesus bodily come into locked rooms?  He was already there.  Where He is, there is His people.  His right hand has delivered us:  Thanks be to Jesus Christ!

THE ASCENSION by Kathryn Ann Hill, Rich in Grace:  The Bible of the Poor for 21st Century Christians

With such faith God blessed old Enoch that they walked in one accord

Till the day he was not found, for he was taken by the Lord.

Taken also was Elijah when his faithful work was done:

In a chariot of fire he ascended near God’s throne.

As he left he dropped his mantle to Elisha, God’s elect,

That the preaching of God’s word might carry on to good effect.

 

From eleven true apostles Christ our Lord was taken up

After He had fed their faith with words of hope and bread and. cup,

After He instructed them to wait for power from on high

To enable them to witness to the kingdom drawing nigh.

They would follow in His footsteps, both to preach and suffer loss,

That all nations might receive forgiveness through the holy cross.

 

We who have received forgiveness through the preaching of the word

Ought to offer gifts of thanks for faithful servants of the Lord,

Those who taught us Christ has taken up with us by His great love And ascended to prepare a home for us with Him above.

Where Christ goes we too shall follow; as He promised it will be:

Nail-pierced feet have blazed a trail for tenderfoots like you and me.

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These two photos are of one wooden statue depicting our Lord riding the donkey…complete with wheels! It is on display at The Cloisters in Manhattan which is a museum of nothing but Christian Medieval Art. This particular statue was used in churches on Palm Sunday.

Psalmody:  Psalm 118:19-25

Additional Psalm:  Psalm 9

Old Testament Reading: Numbers16:23-40

New Testament Reading: Luke 19:29-48

In the daily Lectionary, today’s New Testament reading is the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and the meditation below reflects this Gospel.  The meditation below is by Pr. Scott Murray in his excellent devotional A Year with the Church Fathers:  Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year. The emphasis is my own for a post-script reflection.

Meditation:  When John Goodman’s character in the movie King Ralph is suddenly catapulted from utter obscurity to become the King of England, he initially exults in the power it gives him. He has a bowling alley installed in Buckingham Palace. However, it isn’t long until he realizes that power’s crown weighs heavily on the brow that bears it. 

Jesus comes from Galilean obscurity to Jerusalem, receiving the accolades of majesty from the frenzied crowd. Although they did not surprise Him, the burdens His kingly crown brings with it weigh upon His sacred head, wounding it for our transgressions. His coronation day is not an elevation to office, as we humans might think, but a condescension to our need. Like the unfortunate baseball manager who inherits a last-place team, Jesus has nothing but woe ahead of Him. King Jesus is acclaimed to humiliation and ignominious death. He comes not to subjugate, master, and overpower, but to suffer and die. His throne is nothing other than the cross. The crowd thought their hosannas would acclaim His power, and they were right in that He came to save. However, He came to save not by employing His power but by hiding it. He came to save not by menacing His enemies but by forgiving them. He came not to drive His subjects, but to make them His sons. Such is the one whom we hail as King.

 “What mental suffering the Jewish rulers must have endured when they heard so great a multitude proclaiming Christ as their King (Luke19:38)! But what honor was it for the Lord to be King of Israel? What great thing was it to the King of eternity to become the King of men? For Christ’s kingship overIsraelwas not for exacting tribute, putting swords into His soldiers’ hands, or subduing His enemies by open warfare. He was King of Israel in exercising kingly authority over their inward natures, in consulting for their eternal interests, in bringing into His heavenly kingdom those whose faith, hope, and love were centered in Himself. Accordingly, for the Son of God, the Father’s equal, the Word by whom all things were made, in His good pleasure to be King of Israel, was an act of condescension and not of promotion; a token of compassion, and not any increase of power. For He who was called on earth the King of the Jews is in the heavens the Lord of angels” (Augustine, Tractates on John, 51).

Post-Script:  “His coronation day is not an elevation to office, as we humans might think, but a condescension to our need.”  This reflection works well for Ascension. Ascension is the Lord’s enthronement in heaven when He sits at the right hand of God the Father.  The versicle  and response for Ascensiontide’s daily prayer makes this explicit:

The King ascends to heaven. Alleluia!/O come, let us worship Him.

He ascends to heaven still to descend in “humble water, humble words, humble food”, for His Body, the Church, that is, in Holy Baptism, Preaching and Teaching of the Pure Word of God, Law and Promise and the Holy Communion.

And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1)

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
   and he gave gifts to men.”

 9( In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended intothe lower regions, the earth? 10He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4)

For 1,979 earth years He has been at the right hand of God the Father,  to be with us all and by  His scarred hand to preach and administer Word and Sacrament for His Church, for the life of the world through those whom He has called.

 Let us pray…

O King who comes in the name of the Lord, through Your birth and death, earth and heaven were joined together in peace. May Your coming as King into Jerusalem in humility on the donkey help us to see that You continue to come to us as our King hidden in humble water, humble words, humble food; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  (Prayer of the Day)


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