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Trinity 25/Third-Last Sunday – Matthew 24:15-28

by pastorjuhl ~ November 8th, 2008

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Human beings crave certainty. This past Tuesday some of us stayed up well past our bedtime to see who would be elected to national, state, and local offices. Going to bed without knowing who our new leaders are might make us toss and turn sleeplessly until we know for certain who they are. We don’t believe a good deal is a good deal until we see it for ourselves and compare it with other deals. Then, even reluctantly, we make the deal hoping to stave off a case of buyer’s remorse.

The spiritual realm has what seems to be a lot of uncertainty. None of us know what it’s like to go through the end of the world. Holy Scripture is clear about what will happen, but there is no clear Word when the end will come. We are told to watch and wait patiently but vigilantly. One of many certain things God’s Word tells us about the end times is that false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Satan attacks believers and unbelievers just the same. It’s a special feather in his cap if he can snag an ardent Christian into believing he or she has inside information direct from our heavenly Father Himself. When we hear that a particular Christian has a “new revelation” from God or some other juicy tidbit from heaven concerning our walk with the Master, Jesus says we should neither follow them nor listen to them.

But we can’t help it. Those churches proclaiming new prophecies and revelations seem to be successful. What about our church? How come we don’t have any “new revelations” here? Where are the signs and wonders to follow? All we have is God’s Word and the Sacraments. That’s so 16th century! Our church needs to get with the times and find a new ministry paradigm. Everybody else is doing it. And, unlike our church, they have full pews.

Jesus says, See, I have told you beforehand. If we only had ears to hear! Instead we often go searching for that inside angle some preachers and congregations claim. We see a book in a book store that features a secret code that will unlock all the mysteries of the faith your preacher and your church body doesn’t want you knowing. We hear of bold and innovative ministries that proclaim “the key to the future is through the past”. These ministries believe they have the true, authentic faith of the earliest Christians. But often it is yet another fad that preys on the certain uncertainty of our feelings and emotions. See, I have told you beforehand.

Our Lord knows we will go running for Him where He will not be found. He knows we will look for Him under every nook and cranny thinking He will appear secretly to us first before He appears to the rest of the world. Rest assured we will know along with the rest of the world when Jesus returns visibly to judge the living and the dead. That’s a certainty that should put us at ease.

Here is more certainty from Saint Paul concerning the end times: the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

That last sentence holds the key to understanding the comfort and joy of Holy Scripture’s clarity of the how of Judgment Day. We know the why too. Job says Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue. If we are so certain about the how and the why, then why does the when concern us? We are concerned because we are not in control. It is because we are not in control of the when that we should rejoice, yet remain ready at all times for the coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus does give us the tiniest of hints about the when of Judgment Day. When we see or hear those false christs and false prophets who claim to have that “new revelation” or “insider information” concerning the End Times, we should stop walking toward them and put a finger in our ears. But hasn’t this been going on for a long time? Precisely! That’s why Paul says therefore comfort one another with these words.

Though we might not think judgment is comforting, it is. Judgment is a certainty proclaimed in the Bible. We believe the Bible to be God’s error-free Word to us. No matter what anyone else says or does, we have the certainty of Holy Scripture that tells us the Truth about the faith.

Though we may not know what tomorrow holds, we know there is a bright future for those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil. God’s Word is the certain account of how our heavenly Father rescued His creation from eternal death when He sent His only-begotten Son to this world to be born a man, submit Himself under the Law, to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sin of the world. Though Jesus died for our sins, He also rose from the dead because God is life.

God our Father gives us eternal life through faith in His Son Jesus. Though we are sinners living in a sinful world, we live in the sure and certain hope of eternal life. While we live here and now, God feeds our faith through certain things. He attaches His forgiveness, life, and salvation to words, water, bread, and wine. We believe that these means certainly sustain us until Jesus comes again to take us Home.

The life in Christ through Word and Sacrament is certainty amid the mountains and valleys of uncertainty we tread every day. God’s people gather around God’s altar and pulpit to be comforted with God’s Word. His Word says Jesus will return as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west. Before you know it, the Lord is come, the dead will rise, the living will be caught up in the air with Christ, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. This is our certain hope because if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord.

That’s for certain!

Even so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

1 Response to Trinity 25/Third-Last Sunday – Matthew 24:15-28

  1. Amaya

    / Oh, yes getting into His pnsreece is worth any price! Ps 34:8 is one of my all time favorite verses. Getting past distractions takes spiritual discipline; constantly reminding yourself to set aside interrupting thoughts during time with the Lord. It reminds me of what a teacher once told me, focus, focus, focus!

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