Sermons

New Year’s Eve (Lk 12:35–40)

December 31, 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

“Unto us Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” INI + AMEN.

Another year comes to a close. We remember the blessings. We remember the hardships, the pains, the difficulties. We know where we’ve fallen short. So, we resolve to do better, be better, live better, and we will for awhile. But, for most of us, that ship will sail come March, February, if it even makes it out of January. What’s coming in the New Year? We have hopes for ourselves, our families, maybe even our country and world. But none of our hopes is guaranteed.

One thing’s for certain. Amid the shortcomings of the previous year and the hopes, dreams, and resolutions for the coming year, there’s this truth: yes, we’ve moved from one year to the next, but there’s also less time before Jesus returns. Every minute, day, month, or year that’s passed is one less minute, day, month, or year that’s between us and seeing Jesus face to face.

Jesus came once. We’re still celebrating that. Yes, it’s still Christmas for 6 more days! When He came, He promised that He would come again. Jesus doesn’t just Advent to hang out; He comes to do stuff.

JESUS CAME TO SAVE AND WILL COME TO SERVE.

((I. He came for “the wedding feast.”))

When Jesus came 2,000 years ago, He came to save, or, as He puts it in His parable, “to come home from the wedding feast.” We pray for that quite often! That we may be gathered “from the ends of the earth to celebrate with all the faithful the marriage feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom which has no end.” Now, that’s certainly talking about the future promise and blessing of eternal life. (Not get ahead of ourselves.) But, Jesus puts His work of salvation in terms of a man going off to a wedding feast.

Why wouldn’t He? The Church is the Bride, Jesus the Bridegroom. The one, true Husband saves His one, true Bride: “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” He does this, He saves Her so that “He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” And we are members, not just of Bethlehem or Immanuel, but “we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” We are members of the “one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.”Because we are members we are those for whom Christ died and rose, those whom Christ has baptized, cleansing you “with the washing of water by the Word.” In this way, Jesus has secured salvation for you.

But He doesn’t just secure eternal salvation, eternal life for you. Jesus, of course, went away. He ascended. He will return, but He did promise, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” He doesn’t just prepare a place for; He prepares you for that place! Just like the contractor can’t remodel the room without being there, so also you can’t be prepped apart from Jesus. If you’re separated from Him, He can’t work. He’s not abstract about it either. He works where He says does, and not where we think He does. “Where two or three are gathered,” He is there working in His Word, His forgiveness. He’s prepping you, to “strengthen and preserve you in body and soul unto life everlasting,” and He does that with His body and blood.

((II. He will come to serve His servants.))

Now, just as much Jesus came, He will come again. But, what will He do when He comes again? He came first to save, and when He comes again, He will serve His servants, the ones whom He’s prepared, those who are awake. That’s how Jesus puts it in His parable. It should actually surprise us. No master would do this for slaves! But Jesus says, “He will dress Himself for service and have them recline at table, and He will come and serve them.”

It’s why He came in the first place! “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” He, the Lord and Master of all, didn’t come in power and glory, but was born in a cattle stall. He is Yahweh, God of hosts, yet becomes subject to the Law, to rulers, to death itself. He came to be the suffering Servant, the Savior, the Sanctifier. He does this by being meek and lowly, Though He’s perfect God and holy.

When He comes again, He will come in joy and power and glory, but His will come as host, as servant of the eternal feast. Even as He hosts us now, with His body and blood, He will be the host forever. As Isaiah says, “the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever.”

Jesus came to save you. He came not to be served, but to serve. He gave His life for you. He’s taken it up again. He lives, and He will come again. He’ll come again to serve and dole out the eternal feast. “The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” It could be tomorrow, this year, or a hundred years or more from now. So, we make our plans for the coming year knowing that Jesus could come back at any moment. “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning.” Jesus preps you for His coming. His Word. His forgiveness, His body and blood is how He does it. It’s the only way He does it, as He says. So, our prayer and hymn is

“Lord Jesus Christ, we humbly pray;
Oh, keep us steadfast till that day
When each will be your welcomed guest
In heaven’s high and holy feast.”

“Unto us Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” INI + AMEN.

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