Advent 2: Populus Zion (Mal 4:1-6, Rom 15:4–13, Lk 21:25–36)

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: Jesus says, “Stay awake at all times.”))

“Stay awake at all times,” Jesus says. Tall order. Always be ready, be watchful, be vigilant. No breaks. Always expect the end of the age. Pray all the time for that. Don’t pray all the time for all the stuff you want. Well, pray for that, too. I guess, whenever you happen to even do that…

But praying for the end of the world, the last day? Who does that? Are there any of us who actually listen to Jesus here? “Be alert!” Always. Without ceasing. Otherwise that day will come upon you like a trap. Without warning, or at least it will seem that way. There are symptoms, warnings, tell-tale signs of the Last Day’s coming, beyond Jesus telling us—that should be enough. His warning should be enough to get you to stop being lazy, to get ready, to pray, to live right, to be alert, right? You’re always doing His Word? Aren’t you?

Now, don’t try to get around it. “Stay awake at all times.” Dawn till dusk. Morning till night. Insomnia would be a blessing now wouldn’t it? Then you’d have extra time. Time’s running out, after all. It’s getting short. The Kingdom of God, His final Judgment is coming. “Burning like an oven,” He says. When not just our things will be cast into fire, but all those who turn from Him, reject Him will be in the never-ending fire of hell.

((2. Ugh!: We don’t believe Jesus’ warnings.))

We don’t believe Jesus. We don’t! We live our lives as if we’re going to live forever. We live as if death is far away. We live as if the world’s going to keep going on forever. After all, there are fun things to do, and there are so many other things we’ve got to worry about. The bills are always due, after all. We’re more worried about statement due dates or bank statements or work schedules or simply just enjoying life, than we are about what Jesus says about the Last Day.

What He says, will happen. It’s not a threat. It’s a promise! Jesus’ Word is always true, after all, even when we ignore it. “The day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” And who are these evildoers, the arrogant? Those who turn from the Lord. People who ignore the Lord’s Word for other things. It’s people whose lives are filled up with “pleasure-seeking” (dissipation), with drunkenness, and with worries about this life.

Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away.” The signs are everywhere. There’s distress among the nations. Creation isn’t working the way it should. There’s fear and uncertainty about what’s happening, what’s going to happen. We’re worried about all sorts of things. We’re planning to do all sorts of things. It will all be burned up. Everything of this life. And that day “will come upon everyone who dwells on earth.”

And people can have their dissipation, their drunkenness, all their worries; they can have their pleasures and parties, their cares and concerns. The Lord will let them—you and me, too! But what will those things be in the end? Gone. Burned up. “Stubble; No root; Ashes; Dust,” as Jesus says through Malachi. The pleasures, the things, the worries, and everyone—everyone!— consumed by them. They become what they trust—dust and ashes, stubble and rubble, at that Last and Final Day.

((3. Aha!: JESUS IS YOUR REDEMPTION AT ALL TIMES.))

“Stay awake,” Jesus says, “at all times.” Tall order. “Can you watch even one hour?” So it was that Peter and the other disciples couldn’t do even that in Gethsemane. You and I don’t either. Too many other things going on. But even if you did, it wouldn’t gain you anything. Jesus’ call to stay awake isn’t so you can put in enough work so you’ll make it. Because then your eyes would be focused on you. And besides, if you could prepare your way into heaven, then He died and rose for nothing.

But He did die and rise—for you. That’s your redemption. That’s what you really need. Redemption. Forgiveness. Life. Salvation. From yourself. From your living for you first, too. From your preparing. From all your sins. This Jesus, “the Son of Righteousness, with healing in His wings,” that is, Jesus the crucified is your redemption, your Healing, your Savior. He really is those things for you. When is He those things? Not just now. Not just at the Last Day. No, JESUS IS YOUR REDEMPTION AT ALL TIMES.

((2. Whee!: Jesus is your redemption now.))

Yes, JESUS IS YOUR REDEMPTION AT ALL TIMES, and that means He’s your Redemption right now. He doesn’t leave you to your sins. He doesn’t leave you to your prepping. He doesn’t leave you to struggle, fight, endure, love, and believe all on your own. He doesn’t give us a kick in the pants, and expect us to drag ourselves over the finish line, or at least not back into sin. (He’d be waiting along time, and we’d never make it.)

Instead, JESUS IS YOUR REDEMPTION AT ALL TIMES, even now. He gives you new life. He raises you up. He gives you endurance. He gives you comfort. He gives you hope. He gives you of His own faithfulness that you would be believing. He gives life to your love. He bears the Spirit’s fruit within you. He does it all through His Word.

Through the Scriptures, His Word, your Father is the God of encouragement and hope. We have hope from His Word, as Paul says, “through the endurance and comfort of the Scriptures.” Through preaching of John the Baptist, that’s the Elijah Jesus promises in Malachi, and through all preaching, “hearts of fathers are turned to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” That is, all Christians “living harmony with one another,” loving one another.

By the power of His Spirit you will abound in hope. His Spirit will do it. You have that Spirit. Baptized into you. Your guarantee of eternal life. For also in Holy Baptism, and through the Preaching and Teaching of His Holy Word, Jesus “is with you always, even to the end of the age.”

((1. Yeah!: Jesus is your redemption at the Last Day.))

And because JESUS IS YOUR REDEMPTION AT ALL TIMES, that means He’s your Redemption on the Last Day, too. That’s His promise: “Straighten up and raise your heads, because your Redemption is drawing near.” That’s Him. He will come for you, to redeem you for ever. “Those dear tokens of His passion, still His dazzling body bears.”

He gets you ready for His coming. He prepares you for Him. He makes you ready. He’s true to His Word on that. His promises do hold true: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away.” “I baptize you.” “I forgive you.” “My body and blood for you for your forgiveness.” “Endurance and comfort through the Scriptures.”

He is the “Son of Righteousness with Healing in His wings,” Christ the crucified. And He will come again “with power and great glory” to give you His eternal healing, eternal redemption. You will rise from the dead, “leaping like calves from the stall.” Jesus will raise you.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Jesus does that. Water. Words. Body and blood. After all, JESUS IS YOUR REDEMPTION AT ALL TIMES—now and forever.

INI + AMEN.

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