“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” A new church year arises from the end of an old church year. But nothing has changed. The Lord Jesus Christ remains Lord of His Church. His gifts are given again, just like last week and previous weeks. Yet there is something exhilarating about a new church year.
Perhaps it is because we get to hear the greatest story ever told all over again. My children love to hear the same stories all over again. They beg Becky and me to read them the same library books. We get them different ones every two weeks, yet a couple of months later and those same books reappear in the library bag. We have some of them memorized. We might even be tired of hearing them.
We say the same thing about how we are saved from death and given life and forgiveness of sins in Christ. We get bored with it. After all, I heard it in Sunday School. I heard it from my parents or my grandparent or another family member. I heard it last year. Now I hear it again this year. Why not another story? Aren’t there any other good stories that need to be told? Let’s hear something fresh; something I’ve not heard before.
There are great stories that haven’t been told. This story, your story in Jesus Christ, is the story’s story. It will find a way to be told whether or not you want to hear it. The Gospel finds its own way to speak, especially when you try to silence it. The thing about the Gospel, though, is that, like Jesus, it doesn’t demand to be heard. It doesn’t come banging on your door in the middle of the night expecting you to pay attention. The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands nothing. It offers. The Gospel offers something you can’t get anywhere else.
What is more, the Gospel, like Jesus, comes to you. You don’t get to come to it on your own accord. The Gospel finds you. When the Gospel finds you, it comes to you in a humble way, just like Jesus enters Jerusalem. The way we think, the Gospel needs a fiery chariot with brassy horns announcing its presence. People will pay attention to the Good News if you spiff it up a bit. You gotta let ’em know something special is coming. How will people know the message of Jesus Christ if you don’t show ’em just how important the message is?
The Gospel doesn’t work like that. Jesus Christ doesn’t demand fiery chariots and brassy horns. He has what He has: humility, a colt, the foal of a beast of burden. Jesus comes into Jerusalem in a humble way, a way that doesn’t befit a king. Yet that’s the way Jesus enters Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise from the dead.
You have to admit it’s not the strongest of plots from a human standpoint. We might write the story in a different way. Jesus sends ten thousand legions of angels to wipe out the plot against His life. His disciples prepare a throne for Him in the temple. Even the Pharisees and Sadducees finally repent and join everyone else in honoring the King of Kings as He takes His rightful throne in Jerusalem, the center of the everlasting theocracy.
But what about the atonement for sin? What about Isaiah’s Suffering Servant? What about the promise in the Garden to the serpent? What about the ram caught in a thicket as a substitute for Isaac? If we wrote the story, then let these all be gone. We have our King! But we don’t really have our King. We have a king, but not the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Jesus enters Jerusalem to begin, as the chief hymn says, “His heroic course”. The first entrance of His heroic course is that night in Bethlehem when a star announced Christ’s birth to shepherds abiding with their flocks. Even wise men from afar ascertained something special was happening and rode to Jerusalem to see this King promised by prophets.
His heroic course turns to Calvary and the shedding of blood that covers your sin. There will be no fancy throne and no grand theocracy for Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God reigns on a throne made of two pieces of wood crossed to form a torture device. Jesus reigns on the cross to give you forgiveness at the cost of your sin. Jesus is placed in a tomb where He rises victorious over our greatest enemy: death. As He rises, so you, too, shall rise with Him on Judgment Day.
His heroic course continues among us today where His gifts of forgiveness and life are given. He comes among us in the Word, in water, and in bread and wine. Here is where sins are taken away. Here is where life is given. Here is where you hear Christ will come again to raise the dead and usher in the new and everlasting creation.
Jesus’ heroic course begins again today from the end of another round of hearing the old, old story of Jesus and His love for you. His story is one no one minds hearing again. The deeper you study it, the better acquainted you become with it, the more you marvel at God’s love for sinners in His only-begotten Son. The more you may have questions, too. The more you hear, the more you seek for answers. Those answers may not ever come, for some questions have no answers this side of Paradise. Yet in seeking you find your heart’s desire: a clear conscience, a hope for life amid death, and freedom to be who you are given to be and to do what is given you to do in Christ.
Yesterday’s old news is today’s new news, for Jesus comes to you again to save you.