December 9, 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Judgment comes. We prayed it in the Psalm this evening: “the LORD knows the way of the | righteous,* but the way of the wicked will | perish.” They will perish because they “are like chaff that the wind | drives away.” We hear about this judgment again in our reading from Malachi: “Behold the day comes, burning like an oven, and all the proud and all workers of wickedness will be stubble, and the coming day will burn them,” says Yahweh Sabaoth, “It will not leave them root or branch.”
Judgment will come upon those who look to themselves, who look to their own works, their own feelings, how well they’re doing in their life in order to tell how their standing is with God. If they feel good about themselves, they think they’re on the up and up with God. It’s not based on God’s Word or His Gifts of Baptism, Absolution, and His Supper, but rather on their own selves that this determination is made. There will be judgment for those whose deeds are evil. Those who hate their neighbor, who get drunk and gossip, who desire not their spouses, who secretly go about the internet for unseemly things—in short, every sinner who sins and wishes to white wash it, “who flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.” He covers it up. Hides like Adam did. Blames others. Instead of just confessing His sin and receiving Jesus’ absolution for that sin. It’s as Jesus says, “Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” This judgment comes as surely as Jesus comes. It’s advent, after all.
We know from Malachi 4 when that judgment comes, and, of course, it’s all tied to Jesus. “But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise.” For those who are outside of Christ, for those without faith in Him, He arises as a hot, burning sun, and “there is nothing hidden from its heat.” But for you, dear Christians, it’s entirely different.
JESUS IS YOUR SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
And that means something other than judgement. First, we must confess that
(I.) He truly is that Sun of Righteousness.
It also means, and it’ll sound a bit weird, but we’ll get to it in short order. It means that
(II.) He shines at different angles.
(I. He) truly is that Sun of Righteousness.
We know that from what Yahweh says later on in our text. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Elijah will come. He will unite the children and fathers in one faith and trust in Yahweh. That one is John, as Jesus Himself says, “I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist. If John is the Elijah who’s to come, and he’ll come before the Sun of Righteousness arises, we see then that that Sun is the “eternal Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” It’s Jesus.
Now, Jesus being the true “Sun of Righteousness” is for your comfort, dear Christians. As cancer is removed from the body by a skilled doctor, as a well-trained physician removes poisons from her patient’s body, so also light banishes darkness. The sun drives away all darkness at dawn. So also Christ removes your darkness. We know that He comes “with healing in his wings.” He comes and is exalted, lifted up, and the sun hides its face, and His wings, His arms are extended and nailed to the cross. The Sun of Righteousness hangs in darkness, dies in darkness, is buried in darkness, so that His light would shine in the darkness, the darkness that cannot overcome Him. In this way the Father has “delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” For the darkness couldn’t contain Him, He rose. Now we shine with the light and brightness of His resurrection, even as He lives and reigns now in eternal and glorious splendor. His light shines on us in the robe of His righteousness that He clothed us with at Baptism, and we wear this robe forever. His light glistens like dew in the heavenly Mana of His body and in the chalice of His blood. And Absolution for all sins in general and even THAT sin that bothers you in particular is like opening the blinds on a dark room: all shadows instantly disappear.
Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness whose light brings healing, and
(II.) He shines at different angles.
Now, what do I mean by that? Well, the Lord puts His coming in terms of a sunrise, and so let’s consider how it is that a sun rises throughout the year. The Sun rises in the east of course, but not at the same time every day and certainly not in the same exact spot each day. So also Christ shines and arises at different times, in different places, in different ways, casting His light to bring healing and light to those dwell in darkness and who are stuck in the shadow and region of death. His light first dawns in Bethlehem, and He was shining then, bringing healing, life, and light. Throughout His life He raised the dead, healed the sick, forgave sinners. He died and rose and then received heaven itself, sitting at the right hand of God. He still shines. He comes now. He shines in His Word and Gifts, as I talked about just a few minutes ago. “And He will come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.” Even when He comes again it’s so He can heal and save you. For He will raise your dead body to be like His glorious body by the power which enables Him to subdue all things to Himself. In His coming to die and rise, and in His coming now in water, word, body and blood, He prepares you for His coming again. He wants to cast your darkness away from you, forgive you. He’s making you into a “child of the Day.” He’s fitting you for that day when “you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves” in His kingdom forever. For then it will be the marriage feast, the wedding party of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.
The different times and seasons of Jesus’ coming to us are the reason we actually have a church year that we follow. As much as we like the sunrise on a warm summer morning and on a crisp, snow-covered morning, so also we bask in Christ’s light. We take in His “coming” light in Advent. Adventus, “He comes.” His manger light at Christmas. His transfiguration light in Epiphany. His cross and empty tomb light in Lent and Easter. His preserving-the-Church light in Pentecost. Like looking at a jewel at various angles, or enjoying sunrises in various seasons, so we rejoice in a Church year that points us to Christ and His life for us.
JESUS IS YOUR SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, dear Christian. “Live always in the light of Christ, and be ever watchful for His coming, that you may meet Him with joy and enter with Him into the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which shall have no end.” His light shines even in your darkness. He wants to make sure it shines there for you. He wants you to have His healing light. To be warmed and strengthened by it. He wants it to shine even in the darkest of rooms. He doesn’t just want to do it: He gives the means to do it. There He will do it. He has to. He’s the Sun of Righteousness, after all.
INI + AMEN.