INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: The end times will be perilous.))
The end times are going to be bad. Things will get much worse. It won’t matter whose in charge, it won’t matter what nations are around. Nothing will change the fact that things are going to get bad. Sin and evil will increase. False prophets will abound. False teachings will be wanted and prized more highly than Jesus-focused Bible teaching. Persecution of Christians will increase. Listen to what Jesus says, “Look, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore.” Those without children will feel better because of the great trouble and evil that will be on the earth in those days. It’s gonna be bad. That’s what Jesus says, “If they do these things when the wood is green, what will it be like when it’s dry?” Jesus’ time was the “green time”, but as time progresses things get drier and drier. Think about what Jesus says. When the wood was green, they killed God! How can you get worse than that? Well, Jesus says it will.
((4. Ugh!: We can’t escape the end times.))
The problem is we can’t escape. There’s no bypass. There’s no alternate route, no back entrance to avoid it. No get out of jail free card. We must pass through the perilous times. Weeping’s in order. Jesus says so. “Then they will start to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Hide us!’” Judgment comes. “The other responded, rebuking him, ‘Don’t you fear God, since you’re under the same judgment? And we rightly so, for we are receiving things worthy of what we’ve done.’” Judgement for unbelievers, and even Jesus is under judgment, judgment for sin—your sin, my sin, everyone’s sin! So also we must pass through the perilous times. There will be no blissful resurgence of the Church, in fact, it’ll be like Jesus says elsewhere, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” Or even elsewhere, “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
((3. Aha!: The Last Day will be like Good Friday))
What hope do we have as the Last Day gets closer and closer? What consolation do we have as the times get more and more perilous? What comfort in the face of evil? What peace in the midst of turmoil?
Well, take heart, dear Christians. Look to Jesus on the cross. There see Him in His Kingdom. He will not be a different Jesus when He comes again. He will always and forever be the crucified one. He will always be the Lamb that was slain. As the angels said to the women after His resurrection, “You seek Jesus who was crucified.” That’s the Jesus who’s returning. In fact, His Kingdom already came at His crucifixion. How do you know? Well, look at the conversation between the wicked man and Jesus. “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” Jesus answers, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Jesus answers as if He’s already in His kingdom. It’s not an, “Ok, I will.” It’s a done deal. Jesus is in His Kingdom, His dying-for-the-sins-of-the-world Kingdom, His saving-you Kingdom. That was Calvary.
Not only that, but Calvary already looked like the Last Day, or maybe the Last Day will look like Calvary. If we read one more verse in the Gospel, we’d hear, “And there was also darkness already at about the sixth hour upon the whole land until the ninth hour.” What will happen on the Last Day? The sun will be darkened. What else happened on Good Friday? Well, there was an earthquake. Graves were opened and saints were raised. This too will be on the Last Day.
((2. Whee!: ETERNAL PARADISE WITH JESUS AWAITS ALL WHO TRUST HIM.))
Our hope and consolation in the face of the Last Day, is that, in some sense, the Last Day has already happened. It all started on Good Friday, and Jesus will bring about what was already finished on that day—your eternal life and salvation. It’s even more than just making it to the Last Day. Jesus is all about what’s after that: Eternal resurrected life with Him in the New Creation. What’s another word for that? Paradise. Yes,
ETERNAL PARADISE WITH JESUS AWAITS ALL WHO TRUST HIM.
You see, Jesus really does save! They mocked Him saying that He couldn’t, but, in that exact moment, He was doing the most important saving of all. Saving you and me from sin and death. He bore sin. He took on and endured death. It was His coronation. Now you have access to the new Eden, eternal Paradise.
In eternal Paradise, you will have access to the river of the water of life that flows out of God’s eternal temple. In fact, you’ve already had access to it! For Jesus, the true temple, was pierced and out came water. You were cleansed with that water of life in Baptism. As you sang last week, we’ve eaten from the new tree of Life, the cross, when we eat and drink of that tree’s fruit: the body and blood of Jesus. In Paradise, you’ll have face-to-face access to Jesus.
Because of all this, we trust Jesus. He’s died and risen, after all. He’s given us the fruits of paradise now: His Baptism, His Supper. Now, ETERNAL PARADISE WITH JESUS AWAITS ALL WHO TRUST HIM. Paradise awaits you.
((1. Yeah!: This is Jesus’ everlasting promise.))
This is Jesus’ everlasting promise. No matter what. There were no “ifs, ands, or buts” in what Jesus said to the wicked, sinful, and evil man being crucified next to Him. There was no, “Well, maybe if you just…” No, none of that. It’s just an irrevocable, unalterable, final, and permanent promise of Paradise with Him! For that man, and for you too.
How can it not be? That’s how Jesus rolls. “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Free forgiveness for sinners, even those crucifying Him, mocking Him, killing Him. Free forgiveness for all. Free paradise for all. These words of Jesus go together. The Word of forgiveness and the Word of Paradise. You receive them together in His body and blood for there you receive forgiveness, and we know that “where there is the forgiveness of sins there is also [new] life and [eternal] salvation.” Just as Jesus says.
And that’s why we trust Jesus! He’s true to His Word. If He says you’re forgiven, you’re forgiven. If He says you’ll be in Paradise with Him, then that’s where you’ll be! That’s how Jesus Works. He is “Trustworthy and True,” and so is His Word. It doesn’t matter that we must endure the final days, that those days are perilous. We have Jesus’ Word and Promise, spoken from the cross, delivered at the Font and at the Altar. Water and body and blood from the crucified and risen Jesus. Now, ETERNAL PARADISE WITH JESUS AWAITS ALL WHO TRUST HIM. Paradise with Him awaits you.
INI + AMEN.