Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Watch - November 17, 2013 - Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 28) - Text: Luke 21:5-28 (29-36)
Today is the second last Sunday in our present church year. You may have noticed and you will notice again next week, our lessons focus our attention on the last days of this world and the fact that this world is a temporary place. As I have said before and as you will hear me say again and again, our lives on this earth are short, especially compared to eternity which is forever. At the moment of conception we are destined to die a physical death. We will meet our Lord, either at our passing or at His return, which ever comes first and believe me when I tell you, that day will be sooner than you know and sooner than you might imagine. So, as Jesus says in our text, so I too exhort you, “Stay awake at all times.” Quit focusing so much of your time and attention to this world and the temporary business of this world and focus you attention on making sure you are ready and those of your loved ones are ready for that final day, because after that day, it will be too late.
Getting to our text for today, we make note that Jesus is hanging around the temple and there are those there who are admiring the temple and especially the outward beauty of the temple. Jesus uses this event and this admiration of the temple as an opportunity to teach. To those who were admiring the physical temple and its beauty and especially to His disciples, Jesus spoke about the destruction of the temple. Now, one of our first thoughts might be that of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John, but unlike in John’s gospel, Jesus is not speaking of the destruction of the temple compared to destroying His body, that is He is not pointing to His death at this time, He is simply describing the destruction of the physical temple in Jerusalem as a sign of the coming of the end of the world.
Jesus explains some of the signs of the end of the world. Please understand that we recognize that Jesus’ birth ushered in the end times. Indeed, we are living in the end times. What are the signs of the end times? “8And [Jesus] said, ‘See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am he!” and, “The time is at hand!” Do not go after them. 9And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.’ 10Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven’” (v. 8-11).
Just look at the world in which we live today. Of course, throughout history there have been similar signs of the end times and as has been said, each generation believes the world they live in is worse than the time before them, thus each generation believes they are living in the end times and even so today. Today we constantly hear of wars and rumors of war. We hear of terrorist attacks and bloodshed. We hear of uprisings and violence around the world and even in our own country and neighborhoods.
But there is even more, as we look at our world we are constantly being bombarded with news of man made global warming, as if we human beings really had enough control and power over God’s creation. We hear of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons. We hear of flooding and drought. We hear of famine and plague. We hear of one “natural” disaster after another as if there is no end to what sounds like bad news and even more bad news.
As we look at our world we can see that it is running down. It is getting worse. Of course as Christians this running down should not surprise us. Ever since the fall into sin, ever since Adam and Eve’s sin the world has been cursed and so the world will continue to run its cursed course until the last day. The whole world is groaning in eager expectation of the last day Paul tells us.
As Christians, how do we approach the events of the last days? We approach the events of the last days by being about the Lord’s business, by making regular and diligent use of the means of grace, those means the Lord has given and through which He comes to give us all the good gifts and blessings He has to give and through which He gets us ready and keeps us ready. We approach the events of the last days by being mindful of God’s plans and purpose in our lives.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded that the events which we are experiencing are a direct result of the fall into sin and God’s curse in the Garden of Eden. At the same time we are reminded of God’s promise to Adam and Eve to send a Savior for all people, of all places, of all times, in other words God’s promise to send a Savior was not simply a promise to a certain group or ethnicity of people, but God’s promise was made before there were any people culture groups as we have in our world today. God’s promise was to all people, and especially to you and to me.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded that God’s promise to send a Savior was reiterated throughout history and that when God called Abraham to be the one through whom He would fulfill His promise to send a Savior, His promise continued to be a promise of a Savior for all people, not just the children of Abraham. As a matter of fact, as we get into the New Testament, as the physical children of Abraham, indeed the children of Israel rejected Jesus as God’s promised Messiah, so Jesus reminds us that by faith in Him we who believe are now the true children of Abraham, children of the promise.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded that Jesus is true God born in human flesh. Jesus entered into human history for a purpose, to reconcile and make right our relationship with Himself because we cannot. And Jesus’ birth ushered in the end of the world, so that we are now living in the end times.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded that Jesus lived perfectly for all people. Jesus was born as a human, one with us, one like us, except without sin, in order to live for us, that is to perfectly obey God’s command to be perfect. Jesus lived perfectly for us, in our place because we cannot. The fullness of the Gospel is not simply that Jesus died for us, but the fact that Jesus lived for us.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded that after living perfectly and after obeying all of God’s laws perfectly, after fulfilling all God’s promises and all the ceremonial laws that pointed to Himself, perfectly, Jesus took all our sins as well as all the sins of all people on Himself. The price for sin was set in Eden, death, physical death and apart from faith in Jesus, eternal spiritual death. Jesus died a physical death, but even more, He died the eternal spiritual death which would have and should have been ours.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded that Jesus did not stay dead, but He rose from the dead. As we were reminded last week as Jesus confronted the Sadducees, His was not only a spiritual resurrection, but also a bodily resurrection. He rose in the body and showed Himself alive in His own body many times. Death and the grave had no hold over Him. He defeated sin, death and the devil.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded that through Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, He earned forgiveness of sins for us. And the forgiveness He earned is distributed to us through the means of grace, through our Baptism and our remembering our Baptism, through our confession and our hearing the words of absolution, “your sins are forgiven,” through our reading and hearing God’s Word, and through our partaking of His true body and blood in His Holy Supper. Again, Jesus lived for us, took our sins and died for us paying the price for our sins for us, and rose for us giving us His victory so that now we have forgiveness of sins and death and the grave have no power over us.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded to point to Jesus. We are reminded that faith is not something we get on our own, not something we can claim, not something we dedicate ourselves to, rather faith is a gift from God. God gives faith by the power of the Holy Spirit working through His means of grace when and where He pleases. Indeed God gives faith, forgiveness and eternal life and we are passively being given to.
We approach the events of the last day by being reminded that Jesus makes us ready for His return. How does Jesus make us ready? How does He get us ready? And how do we live readied lives? Again, Jesus explains in our text, “12But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your lives” (v. 12-19).
God does not and never has promised us an easy life. As a matter of fact, as Christians we should expect to be treated as our Savior was treated and in many instance in this world Christians are treated with such disrespect. Christians are tormented, tortured and martyred around the world and somewhat even here in our own country. I believe a day will come in the not so distant future when we Christians here in America will be thrown in jail because we cannot abide by certain laws of this land. When we speak against the sins of this world we will be imprisoned and punished for our faith. Jesus’ words encourage us to rejoice in such times of conflict because those will be times when we will have an opportunity to give an answer for our faith and hope. And He tells us that we are not to be concerned about our witness and answer because He will give us the words to speak, words which will give Him glory.
And finally we have Jesus’ own words of encouragement and exhortation, “36But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (v. 36). We are living in the end times. I say that not to be an alarmist, but to remind you that the most important thing in this life is not to be about the business of this world, but to be about the Lord’s business, that is to make every effort and take every opportunity to be in Divine Service and Bible Class, to have personal reading of God’s Word as well as personal and family devotions, to remember your baptism, to come to confession and hear His words of absolution, to partake of our Lord’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.
Today is the second last Sunday in our present church year. Next week is our last Sunday in this present church year and again we will be reminded of the temporariness of this world. But even more we will be continually reminded of God’s love for us, His looking out for us, His reconciling us with Himself, His giving us and pouring out on us all the gifts and blessings He has to give, faith, forgiveness, life and salvation. What a great God we have. What a loving God we have. What a gift giving God we have. And He also shows His greatness in stirring in us to say, to Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.