Redeemer Lutheran Church Blog

Advent II, December 10. 2017 - St. Luke 21:25-36

Back to blog

Posted: Friday, December 22nd, 2017 by Pastor Westgate

Leaves have fallen off the trees. Warm weather has turned cold. The grass is still green, but at some point will be covered in snow. There’s so little sunlight now compared to a few months ago. This may make us feel down or under the weather, and it won’t be too long until “cabin fever” hits. 2017 is winding down to its end.

All things come to an end. Good things come to an end, but so do bad things. The end of the year reminds us this world must end. It will end. It won’t continue forever. It may seem like it will, but it won’t. Some people fear the earth will die because it’s overpopulated or the sun will burn out. That won’t happen. God will keep everything going until He decides it’s time. At that moment He will appear.

Advent is about our Lord’s comings. It’s not just about His Nativity. It’s about His coming in power and glory on the last day. He is coming not as a poor, little baby in a manger, but as the great King over all the world, for He is the one through Whom all worlds were made. He is coming to raise the dead. He is coming to judge all flesh.

How does that make us feel? We often wish God would come back. Often it’s so we’d escape some trial or trouble. Perhaps it’s because the country’s in bad shape or work isn’t fun or family is having problems. We want God to come put an end to it all. But His time is not yet, and His time is better than our time.

He is coming. Advent is not just a time for rejoicing. It’s a time for contemplation, for repentance, for sorrow over sin. We don’t prepare for the Church’s feasts by celebrating. We prepare for them by repenting. Repentance leads us to celebrate the feasts with renewed vigor and understanding of what the feasts are about. So we fast from the Gloria to sing it new on Christmas with greater joy; we focus on confessing our sins so we will better appreciate what our Lord did for us when He took on our flesh.

So think about our Lord’s coming. Think about what it means that God is Judge. Think about what He would judge you for. What would He judge you for? What would He see on your bank account of sins? What charges would He find on it? What would He need you to pay for? He mentions drunkenness. Would He say you’ve eaten too much of anything, drunk too much of anything, overdone anything or misused any of His good gifts to us? Since St. Paul mentions patience in the Epistle, would He say we’ve been impatient, impatient with our family, our coworkers, our friends? Would He say we haven’t been patient enough with Him as we waited for our prayers to be answered or as we wait for the last day?

As we contemplate our lives during this season, we must confess there is much the Judge should punish us for. His punishments are not a fine, community service, a permanent record, points on a license, or jail time. His punishment on the last day is eternal death in hell, a place completely without His gracious presence, an existence more miserable than you can think of, far worse than any horror movie or what you think was the worst time ever in your life.

Is there any refuge? Can you escape? How can you escape the wrath of the Judge? How can you find rescue from your sins, deliverance from hell, life after death? You can find it because that Judge is the Son of Man Who says to you, the people of Zion, “Look up and lift up your heads. Watch and pray.”

This Judge is not coming to judge you. He is coming to redeem you. He is The Son of Man Who took on flesh in The Virgin’s womb. He did not do this to give you new laws to keep or to devise a new way to control you. He can do that very effectively from heaven if He wants to without ever becoming fully human. For us men and for our salvation He was made man because He wanted to redeem us.

What does this mean, He wants to redeem us? We use that word, redeem, with coupons, and I’m not sure why, since that meaning of the word is quite different from what we mean when we say Jesus has redeemed us. We don’t purchase coupons. We just use them to pay less for something at the store. But Jesus has purchased us, and we weren’t on sale or even for sale. He’s purchased us, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious Blood and His innocent suffering and death. He’s purchased us back from Satan who stole us, from sin which enslaves us, and death which seeks to devour us.

He has purchased us. This means sin’s credit card bill is wiped out, blotted clean with blood-red ink. The sins you should have on it are nowhere to be seen. They’ve been doubly replaced by all Jesus did in His life and with His Death. He cannot see them on your account. He sees solely what He has done for you. The account shows not you and your sins, but the crucifix and empty tomb. Therefore when He comes again He must welcome you into the joys of our Lord, the home of our heavenly Father.

That’s why you can lift up your heads. You see this world falling apart, but that’s no reason for sorrow. It’s a reason for joy, because you know this means He is coming. Yes the world is falling apart, yes it is full of open rebellion against Him, but that’s because it desperately wants to defeat Him. It wants to destroy His reign. It wants to overpower Him, just like it hoped to do when it killed Him. But the world cannot be victorious. The Risen God cannot be defeated. He cannot lose. He is coming.

He is coming to gather His saints together to Him, those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice. How have you done this? He has joined you to Him, to His covenant, His testament. He has joined you to His Sacrifice. Holy Baptism has united you to His Death and Resurrection. It has nailed your sins to His Cross and buried them in His Tomb. You belong to Him. On the last day He will come so that not just your soul will live forever with Him, but your body. This very body you now have will dwell with Him forever.

So watch and pray. Do this so you will not fall into temptation. Do this so devil, world, or flesh won’t draw you back down into its lair and keep you from lifting up your head. They don’t want you to lift up your head from the grave in joy when He comes. They want you to care only about your sinful desires and to forget about Christ. Do not listen. Pray Him to stir up your heart so you will be able to serve Him with a pure mind. For if you decide to serve those wicked masters instead, you will not lift up your head out of the grave on the last day in joy, but only in sorrow.

We are waiting. Don’t be impatient for Him to come, but don’t forget His coming. Watch for it. Pray for His grace. You watch for it by confessing your sins. You watch for it by receiving His Sacrament. You watch for it by hearing His word. You watch for it by forgiving those who sin against you. You watch for it by doing what is good. You watch for it by saying “no” to temptation. “Daughter of Zion, behold, your salvation is coming. The Lord shall cause His glorious voice to be heard, and your hearts shall be glad.”

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

Add a comment

Back to top