The Word of the Lord Comes to Jerusalem
Rev. Charles Westby, Pastor
Matthew 21:1-11, Isaiah 2:3
December 01, 2019

Today is the First Sunday in Advent. The word “advent” is from Latin and means coming or better yet “arrival.” The Gospel reading tells us about Jesus coming into Jerusalem. He has arrived at His destination in relation to His first coming.

But now let us ask this question: “Who is it that arrives at Jerusalem when Jesus rides into town on a donkey amid shouts of “Hosanna!?” Just who is this Jesus?

To begin with, we see what the crowds ascribe to Jesus with the words of Zechariah, the prophet. “Your King is coming to you.” Jesus is a king. The crowds are treating Jesus as the promised Son of King David as promised in 2 Samuel 7:1-13.

Finally, we will get the Romans off our backs, they may be thinking.

But there is more they say about Jesus. The crowds also referred to Jesus as a prophet, the prophet from Nazareth.

Son of David. Prophet. Certainly, Jesus was these things. But is there any more we can say about Him?

There is more, and it is wonderful. It is wonderful both because it is glorious in its content, and also because it drives us into deep wonder and awe. Could God really do such a thing, such a wonderful thing? Could God really come that near to us? What a blessing to be able to answer yes.

We turn here to the words from Isaiah the prophet, chapter 2. At the end of verse 3 we find an important phrase. It is “the word of the Lord.” Isaiah says that “the word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem.”

In verse 4 Isaiah goes on to say that “He shall judge between the nations.” And “He shall correct many peoples.” Who is the “he” of verse 4? The “he” of verse 4 is “the word of the Lord” in verse 3. Thus, the word of the Lord shall judge between the nations. The word of the Lord shall correct many peoples.

So here we find that the word of the Lord is doing verbs. The word of the Lord judges. The word of the Lord corrects. It sounds as if this “word of the Lord” is a person, who does things. So it is.

When we pursue this further, we find this phrase, “the word of the Lord,” in many places in the Old Testament. In many instances it has the sense of what the Lord has said through a prophet. What the Lord commands the prophet to say becomes the word of the Lord.

But many other times we also find “the word of the Lord” doing verbs in an even stronger sense than we find here in Isaiah 2. Those instances show us that the word of the Lord is a person.

Let’s briefly look at three examples. We turn first to Genesis 15. It says there that the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision and talked to Abram. And the word of the Lord said, “Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1 NKJV). The word of Lord calls Himself Abram’s shield and great reward.

Abram responded by calling the word of the Lord, Lord God (Genesis 15:2 NKJV). The word of the Lord is Abram’s Lord and God.

Then it says that the word of the Lord spoke to Abram. More specifically, they are carrying on a conversation. And the word of the Lord promised that Abram would have a son of his own who would be his heir.

Then it says that the word of the Lord took Abram outside and told Abram to look at the stars in the sky. He promised Abram that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky in number.

We see the word of the Lord doing verbs, engaging in action. He appears. He speaks. He leads Abram outside. He shows Abram the sky. He makes promises of Isaac and that Abram would be the father of a nation of millions of people like the stars in the sky.

The word of the Lord does verbs and has a personal interaction with Abram. The word of the Lord is a person and God.

We turn next to the story of God calling Samuel to be a prophet in 1 Samuel 3. There it says that the Lord cane and stood in the temple in Shiloh (where God’s temple was at that time) and called to Samuel with a voice that could be heard with the ears. We know this because Samuel thought that Eli, the high priest, was calling him. The Lord then sent Samuel and told Samuel what the Lord was about to do and what to say.

The Lord came. He stood in the temple. He called to Samuel. He gave Samuel words to say and the command to say them.

Then it says in 1 Samuel 3:21 that the Lord appeared to Samuel in Shiloh and revealed Himself to Samuel “by the word of the Lord.” It was “the word of the Lord” that revealed the Lord to Samuel.

So, it was the word of the Lord who came and stood in the temple and called to Samuel with words Samuel could hear. It was the word of the Lord who conversed with Samuel and told him what to say.

Once again, we see the word of the Lord doing verbs. He has intention and purpose. He tells Samuel what is about to happen and what to say.

Now we turn to the call of Jeremiah to be a prophet. This is in Jeremiah chapter 1. Jeremiah says there that “the word of the Lord” came to me (Jeremiah 1:4). Jeremiah carried on a conversation with the “word of the Lord,” who Jeremiah refers to as the Lord. Then in verse 8 Jeremiah tells us this: “The Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth” (Jeremiah 1:9 NKJV). He then spoke some more to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah’s interaction with the word of the Lord, whom He refers to as the Lord, shows us that the word of the Lord is a person. The Lord is revealed through this person. And the Lord interacts with the prophets of Israel through this person. And the word of the Lord speaks through the prophets. When the prophets spoke, they spoke by the word of the Lord. In fact, the Lord rules the people of Israel and speaks His word and makes His promises through the word of the Lord. The Lord and the word of the Lord are one, yet distinct persons.

Much of what the prophets spoke and what they were told to say by the word of the Lord was written down and became the written word of God. What the word of the Lord commanded to be spoken became the word of the Lord in the sense of the words that were said and written. But the Lord revealed Himself to the prophets and ruled His people Israel through the word of the Lord, the person, who is also God along with the Lord.

Now we come back to our question: who rode into Jerusalem that day on the donkey? The Apostle John makes the connection for us at the beginning of his Gospel about Jesus. John says there, “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God.” John then goes on to tell us that everything was made through this Word, which is God, and that nothing was made apart from Him.

The Word does verbs. He engages in creative action. He does the work that God sends Him to do. He is a person, and He is God.

Then John says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). John proclaims that this Word of God, this person that is God, is Jesus.

How could John ever come to such a conclusion about Jesus? He watched Him minister to people by the power He had in His own person. He spoke rebuke to the Devil and evil spirits, and they obeyed and came out of people. He spoke healing to people, and they were healed. He spoke peace to the wind and the waves, and the wind and the waves obeyed. He spoke to Lazarus, who had been dead and buried for four days: Lazarus come out from your grave. And Lazarus came out from the tomb alive once again. He spoke the truth about sin. He spoke the truth about salvation in the forgiveness of sins.

He commands nature. He commands the devil and all spirits. He has power over death. He speaks the truth from God. He speaks the good news of God’s grace and love. He showed God’s heart of compassion. He then rose from the dead Himself.

They witnessed Jesus do all these things. And who else could do them, but the word of the Lord? Thus, John realized that he and the rest were face-to-face with the word of the Lord through whom the Lord ruled His people Israel. They were face-to-face with Him when they were face-to-face with Jesus.

So, it was the word of the Lord who arrived at Jerusalem that day. He arrived, and His Name is Jesus.

In Jesus, the word of the Lord came to Jerusalem. And there He would suffer and die for the sins of the people. And there He would live again in resurrection. And then from there, from Jerusalem, He would go forth in the testimony of the apostles and in the power of His Spirit into all the nations. And He would correct many people and judge among the nations by turning many in the nations to the one and true living God in the revelation of His Gospel of peace.

And this is important for us, for we are part of the people whom the word of the Lord in Jesus has taught. In Jesus, we live in the reality that God comes to us. In Jesus, and His Gospel, and His covenant of His body and blood, we have fellowship with God through Him, in grace and peace. In Jesus, God is walking with you in living reality, doing wonderful verbs for your sake.

God’s grace and peace brought to us in Jesus, who is the word of the Lord made flesh for you, bless and strengthen you this Advent and Christmas season, and indeed throughout the year. Amen.


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