New Year’s Eve (Lk 12, 35–40)

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Blessèd are those servants, whom the Master will find staying awake when He comes. Truly I tell you that He will clothe Himself, will have them sit down at a table, and when He comes by, He will serve them.

᛭ INI ᛭

Forgiveness and mercy. That’s what we praying for tonight. Forgiveness for the past year. Mercy for the past year, too. Forgiveness and mercy—that’s really what need each year, every year. Every day, week, and month, too!

But we especially need forgiveness and mercy as we draw closer and closer, year by year, day by day, moment by moment, to the Last Day. Judgment Day is coming. The Lord Jesus will “come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead.”

We should always be ready for Jesus to return. “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning,” Jesus says. He’s “coming at an hour you don’t expect.” Not only is it unexpected, but when Jesus comes He will do the unexpected. And don’t let His apparent delay fool you. He’s coming. “He’s not slow as some count slowness, but He wants all to reach repentance.” His delay is His forgiveness and mercy at work FOR YOU and for all.

((2. Jesus is really on His way.))

Jesus will return. He will come back. It’s not far away. He’s not far away! But that’s exactly how we live. We live our daily lives as if Jesus isn’t going to come back at any moment. We live like we’ve got all the time in the world. We live like these two statements almost mean the same things: “when Jesus returns” and “when pigs fly.” Translation: it’s never going to happen.

The second or third watch isn’t that far way. In terms of time, that’s 9PM to 3AM. But in terms of longer periods of time: where’d 2021 go? Jesus’ coming isn’t impossible or unreal. It’s unexpected and unknown. Big difference. But it is soon. “Behold, I am coming soon,” Jesus says in Revelation. Or as He puts it this evening, “The Son of Man is coming at an our you don’t expect.”

But how soon? Well, we should think about it like this: “He’s on His Way.” It’s not like Jesus is inching closer and closer from heaven back to earth, or anything like that. It’s just putting it in terms of “He’s on His way” gets to the urgency and proximity of it. It’s close! He’s close! “At the gates!” Saying “Jesus is on His way,” is sort of like how faithful servants might talk about their Master who’s coming home from a wedding feast. “He’s coming back. He’s on His way right now.”

((Transition.))

Our attitude about Jesus’ coming back—THE LORD IS ON HIS WAY—our apathy about it: we need mercy and forgiveness. We also need forgiveness and mercy so we’re not afraid by the statement: THE LORD IS ON HIS WAY. But what’s he going to do when He gets here? Well, that’s a bit unexpected.

((1. He’s going to do the unexpected.))

The reality is we don’t like to think about Jesus coming back. It’s a bit unnerving, a bit frightening. THE LORD IS ON HIS WAY sounds a bit, well, ominous. It sounds a bit like religious equivalent “Wait till your father gets home.”

Now, Jesus will come back, and there will be judgment when He does. He is the Judge. But we really do expect trouble for His coming. Not just for those who don’t believe in Him, those who’ve rejected Him, His Word, His Gifts and lived for themselves instead. But there is no trouble at all for His servants when He comes.

But that’s not true at all. Jesus wants His Second Coming to be just like His First Coming. He wants it to be about saving His servants. That’s what He did at His first coming. That’s what He’ll do at His 2nd coming, too! He is “merciful and gracious,” after all, “slow to anger and about in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”

Jesus comes not to be served, but to serve. He came to give His life as a ransom for many. He ransomed His servants from their sins, from their death, and from the power of the devil. He gave His life and took it back again. He rose. He ascended. He’s going to come back, and when He does, He wants to come and serve them forever. And that’s the very unexpected thing that Jesus lays out in His parable this evening.

Blessèd are those servants, whom the Master will find staying awake when He comes. Truly I tell you that He will clothe Himself, will have them sit down at the table, and when He comes by, He will serve them.

That’s not how things work in the real world, but it is how things work in Jesus’ Kingdom. HE’S GOING TO SERVE HIS SERVANTS. What sort of Lord will do that? The sort of Lord who gives His life for them. The sort of Lord gives forgiveness and mercy over and over again to His servants. The sort of Lord who baptizes, who absolves, who writes the Bible, who preaches sermons, who gives His body and blood for the forgiveness of their sins—that’s who!

((Conclusion.))

THE LORD JESUS IS ON HIS WAY, AND HE’S GOING TO SERVE HIS SERVANTS.

That’s the sort of Lord Jesus is. He serves. When? Soon. Very soon. He’s on His way. Watch for His coming. Be ready. Be prepared.

THE LORD JESUS IS ON HIS WAY, AND HE’S GOING TO SERVE HIS SERVANTS.

He already does. Forgiveness and mercy. That’s what He gives now. Forgiveness for the past year. Mercy for the next year. The forgiveness and mercy we need each year, every year. Every day, week, and month, too! The forgiveness and mercy we need as we draw closer and closer, year by year, day by day, moment by moment, to the Last Day.

That’s how He gets us ready for His coming: forgiveness and mercy. He clothes us for action. He keeps our lamps burning. What He calls us to do, He freely gives. He is “at work within you both to will and to act according to what’s pleasing to Him.” He serves you His baptism, His absolution, His Word, His sermons, His body and blood.

See, there’s no reason to be afraid or worried or apathetic about it!

And He’s going to serve you forever. He won’t serve mercy and forgiveness then. You won’t need it. We’ll be raised “imperishable, incorruptible, immortal.” Jesus promises: “To Him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life.” (Rev 2) “He who began a good work within you will bring to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 2) That “tree of life” has “twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22)

Not only that Jesus, “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.” (Is 25)

THE LORD JESUS IS ON HIS WAY, AND HE’S GOING TO SERVE HIS SERVANTS.

What a day that will be!

Merry Christmas!

᛭ INI ᛭

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