INI + AMEN.
The season of Advent is all about JESUS coming. Advent means “He comes”—not just as a baby in Bethlehem, but with all His almighty, endless power on the Last Day. That day will burn like an oven and furnace as He promises through Malachi. But even before you get to the Last Day when JESUS returns, there’s the End Times. The times of struggle, persecution, and unbelief that come before JESUS returns.
These three things go together (the End Times, the Last Day, and JESUS), and, today, we’ll look at them together. So, ready or not: here we go.
((A. We’re afraid of the End Times—they’re scary!))
When we start thinking about the End Times, we get nervous. They’re not going to be good times. Well, not if you trust JESUS. Sin will increase, unbelief will be the norm, many, if not most, Christians will fall away, will turn away from JESUS’ Word, not want it, study it, read it, but would rather listen to things that sound nice, give good feelings, and even fit in with what they already think to be true. Paul and JESUS say these sorts of things in many places.
Let’s be honest: we’re afraid of the End Times. They sound scary. Especially the persecution part—like Christians being put in jail, even put to death.
Then there’s the “signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” That sounds scary. Sun and moon being darkened. Stars being put out. Asteroids falling on the earth. The universe flying apart. Violent sea storms. Tsunamis. It all sounds…terrify, and so we’re afraid.
((B. We’re afraid of the Last Day—are we ready!?))
But we’re not just afraid of the End Times. We’re afraid of when they end, too. The Last Day sounds scary. Doesn’t it? It’s not just called the Last Day. It’s also called Judgment Day. Judgment. Judging. Before the Throne.
Are you ready? That’s your fear, right? That you’re not ready. Are you ready for the Last and Final Day, the day when JESUS will return? Maybe a question that’s closer to home are you ready for your Last Day? You don’t know when that will be. So, are you ready?
Sure, we’ve done our best. We’ve tried. We make up for our failings where we can, but is it enough? What will God say about what we’ve done? Will the good out weigh the bad? Such a nerve-wracking question, right? We all know how we don’t measure up, where we fall short. When the Lord settles accounts, what will the balance be? Especially when the only thing that pasts muster is perfection. Anything less than perfection ends with judgment, eternal judgment.
((C. We’re afraid of JESUS—what will He do!?))
This is why we’re also afraid of JESUS, too. When you meet Him face to face, then what? When you stand before Him on His throne, what will He say? When we see Him “coming in a cloud with power and great glory,” what will He do then? Or, when your heart beats its last, and you close your eyes in this life only to open them in the life to come, what will you see? A smiling face? The cold, stern look of an all powerful judge?
Whenever we start thinking about these things (the End Times, the Last Day, and JESUS on the Last Day), we’re afraid. We’d rather hide, and not go through any of it. We’d rather not think about it, as if it won’t happen, then.
But let me tell you something, dear Christian, when it comes to any of these things, you don’t need to need be afraid. Your heart doesn’t need to skip a beat every time you think about yours beating for the last time. In all these things, it’s not a matter of “ready or not, here it comes.” I’ve got good news for you:
YOU’RE ALREADY READY ALREADY FOR JESUS TO COME.
Let me say that again:
YOU’RE ALREADY READY ALREADY FOR JESUS TO COME.
((C’. JESUS makes you ready—that’s what He does now.))
You don’t need to be afraid of JESUS coming. You don’t need to be afraid of JESUS either! The fear’s misplaced. You’re ready to see Him face to face. You’re ready to see Him as He is—almighty. You can even look forward to that day. Look up “because your redemption is drawing near.”
JESUS is your redemption. He’s your payment for sin, all your sins. It’s not what you do at all. It’s all what Jesus does, and you don’t need to worry about what JESUS will do. You don’t need to worry because of what He’s already done. He’s your redemption. He saved you. He died for you. He rose for you. He suffered judgment for you so that you won’t endure it.
JESUS is your redemption. You don’t need to worry about future JESUS because of what He’s doing now. He’s redeeming you now. Delivering redemption. That’s what JESUS does for you now. He redeems at the Font, He redeems in the Absolution, He redeems at the Altar. All of His gifts tied to His redemptive cross. Water from His side washes you. His “It is finished”-“Father forgive them”-“with Me in Paradise” Word is delivered into your ears with the Absolution. The means of redemption, His body and blood, are given you to eat and drink at His Supper.
((B’. The Last Day is salvation’s day—JESUS made you ready.))
Since you don’t need to fear JESUS, you don’t need to fear the Last Day either. JESUS has made you ready for it. YOU’RE READY ALREADY! On the Last Day, when heaven and earth will pass away, you will endure. Why? Because Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” His words and promises are sure and certain. They’re as sure and certain as His empty tomb. His words endure because He was dead, then He was alive again, and now He will never die again.
You know the words and promises that don’t pass away. Where you can get them. It’s where Jesus makes you ready, where His redemption is delivered to you. It’s here, and only here, where He gathers you and delivers Himself through His Gifts. Your account has been settled. Jesus settled it, and He delivers that in His Word and Gifts.
((A’. You can endure the End Times—JESUS sustains you.))
You don’t just have to wait for the Last Day to be ready! YOU’RE READY even to endure the End Times. Jesus says, “pray you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” You can and will survive the End Times. JESUS is by your side. The Kingdom’s been won and delivered. Redemption, too. JESUS’ redemption is the only thing that gives us the strength to make it through the End Times with faith intact. His Redemption keeps us that we may stand before Him, our Redeemer.
These three things go together: the End Times, the Last Day, and JESUS. The a good news is that YOU’RE ALREADY READY ALREADY FOR JESUS TO COME. He’s made sure of that. He’s redeemed you, delivered His redemption to you. He won’t let us down. The Last Day will come. The End Times will come. Jesus will come. He will come FOR YOU, to redeem you. He’s already done that. There’s nothing to fear.
INI + AMEN.