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

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Now, when these things start to happen, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your Redemption is near.

᛭ INI ᛭

((5. Oops!: Our heads aren’t up but down.))

Jesus tells us to do something that we don’t do. In fact, we do the opposite. Jesus tells us to straighten up, to lift up our heads, but the truth is we don’t. We might be able to put on a good show, but if our posture match our attitude, we’d be slouching, shoulders drooping, head down.

Jesus isn’t commenting on our posture, but rather our attitudes toward what we see going on in the world. Jesus sounds positive in the face of scary stuff. “Don’t cower. Don’t sigh. Stand tall. Look up. Rejoice! Your Redemption’s getting near.” Jesus sound optimistic, but it’s met with our inherent pessimism.

No news is good news, that is, there’s no news that’s good news. The news cycle goes from bad to worse. All we’re confronted with is all the bad, evil, worrisome, sad, and scary things that are going on in the world. If someone says, “Did you hear?” We really don’t want to ask. More let down. More weight.

Our Bible readings seem to fit into this expectation, except maybe a little worse. It’s hard enough when our news program or news feeds are filled with bad news. That’s all past, or maybe on going. The news we’re told about in our readings today seems like future bad news. We’re told about bad news that’s coming! (Do we really need anymore?)

“For behold, 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 there will be 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.”

((4. Ugh!: Our hearts do get weighed down, too.))

When Jesus says these things, or when He uses Malachi to say them, the reality is that it’s going to happen. So, it’s a bit worse than news that talks about what might happen in the future. The news from Jesus will happen. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will never pass away.”

Our hearts do get weighed down. Not only because this stuff will happen, but because it does and has happened. Jesus warns us because He knows that our hearts do get weighed down: “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and cares of this life.” Now, “dissipation” is self-indulgence. “Drunkenness” and “cares of this life” sort of speak for themselves.

Now, Jesus warns about self-indulgence and drunkenness weighing down our hearts because those are the ways we use to cope with the cares of this life weighing our hearts down! It’s a spiritual problem. When our hearts turn away from the Lord in unbelief, we turn to all sorts of other things to fill the gap. Instead of prayer to our Heavenly Father, we lash out at the people in our lives. Instead of being filled with the Spirit through our Lord’s promises, His Word, His Sacraments, we buy stuff, over eat, drink, whatever it is. But all those ways are just the dead horse we sinners keep whipping, expecting that horse to carry us through this life.

((3. Aha!: The Bible’s news is meant to give us hope.))

I’ve got to say again that all the stuff Malachi mentions will happen. Same with Jesus. But everything that’s recorded for us in the Bible is written not to make us fearful. It’s not the ancient equivalent of clickbait or our 24-hours news cycle.

It’s all written down so that we can know it’s coming. Jesus doesn’t want us to be caught like in a trap. That’s what he’s hinting at in Luke 21:34, but it’s also what He says in John 13 and John 14, “I’ve told you these things ahead of time, so that you may believe.”

But we’re not just told the bad things that will happen. We’re told what we’re told so that we would have hope. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

We have hope, not only that the end times are coming, but that Jesus is coming. Jesus isn’t just telling us bad stuff to scare us, He’s telling us that when we start to see those bad things that then we know the best thing ever is coming. He is!

Now, when these things start to happen, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your Redemption is near.

The good news, the hope that we have is that JESUS, YOUR REDEMPTION, IS NEAR. That’s the good news Jesus is reporting to you today. He’s coming. He’s near. He’s close.

JESUS, YOUR REDEMPTION, IS NEAR.

((2. Whee!: JESUS, YOUR REDEMPTION, IS NEAR.))

Jesus is your redemption, your salvation. The Bible says this in many ways. “Redemption is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3) “The LORD is My light and My salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Ps 27) He has raised up for us “the horn of salvation.” (Lk 1; Benedictus) “O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” (Ps 130) “And because of [the Father] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor 1)

Even Malachi tells us this good news: JESUS, YOUR REDEMPTION, IS NEAR. Malachi says, “But for you who fear My Name the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing in His wings.” He’s not just talking about Jesus coming on Christmas, even though Malachi 4 is used in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” He’s talking about the Last Day!

Jesus is the one with healing, with redemption, with forgiveness in His wings. Crucified and raised, and He gives you that healing, that redemption, that forgiveness to you. No matter when He comes, that’s the healing, the redemption, the forgiveness He gives. Calvary-redemption—He gives. Empty-tomb-healing—He gives. Blood-shed forgiveness—He gives.

Jesus says, “My Word shall never pass away,” and so His Words about His healing never pass away. They are eternal words, eternal healing, eternal redemption. “I baptize you.” Baptism makes you “heirs, having the hope of eternal life.” “I forgive you.” Absolution delivers “forgiveness before God in heaven.” “This is My body; this is My blood.” “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life.”

And so we hope in Him. “Redemption in Christ” is “received through faith.” (Rom 3) We don’t put our hope in anything else. He makes good on His promises. Cross and empty tomb prove that. He’s true to all His promises! “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

And He’s near! JESUS, YOUR REDEMPTION, IS NEAR. “Salvation is closer now than when we first believed,” like we heard last week. “Behold, I am coming soon,” Jesus promises. Now, when these things start to happen, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your Redemption is near…Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will never pass away.

((1. Yeah!: Jesus, your Redemption, will draw you near.))

JESUS, YOUR REDEMPTION, IS NEAR, and He will also draw you near to Himself. He will carry you through to the end. “Pray that you may have strength.” He gives that strength. He gives “endurance.” God is the “God of endurance,” who delivers it through the “encouragement of the Scriptures.” In His Gifts, too.

The endurance that He gives will carry us through, unlike all the other things we keep on trying. We hope in Him, in Jesus. He is the hope sent from His Father. “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.” (Rom 15) “The God of peace make you completely holy, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful. He will surely do it.” (1 Thess 5)

And that’s what you have to really look forward to: not the dark days, but the eternal, never-ending day in Jesus’ presence. “You will go out like calves leaping from the stall.” (Mal 4) You’ll jump out of your graves, live forever, and “there will no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things will have all passed away.” (Rev 7)

᛭ INI ᛭

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