Last Sunday in the Church Year
Last Sunday in the Church Year
22 November 2009
St. Mark 13:24-37
"2012." Have you seen it? That’s the new end of the world movie starring John Cusack. If only the governments of the world would have heeded the ancient Mayan calendar. In this end-of-the-world tale the Mayans warned that December 21 would be the end. Cataclysmic calamities leashed upon the world beyond imagination. Volcanoes. Earthquakes. Tidal waves. But the character played by John Cusack must survive. He must save his family and the world. Escape. Survival. It’s all up to him. Typical Hollywood end of the world movie – there’s a savior (small “s”). It’s man himself. He has to look deep inside himself. Find the resources within himself. Man saves himself. No need for the crucified and risen Jesus when mankind is able to save himself.
Well, there will be a Last Day. A Judgment Day. Jesus says so. His words “will never pass away.” He says: “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”
“At that time.” When will it happen? What’s the time? Can we get out our calendars and mark down a date? Better listen to Jesus. He says: “No one knows about that day or hour. All the angels in heaven don’t even know. I don’t even know,” Jesus says. “But the Father does. He knows the day and hour. That’s in His hands. We’ll leave it up to Him. But know this. When I am revealed on the Last Day all people will see Me coming in the clouds. And you’ll see Me for who I am: God’s Son who died as the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.”
Jesus tells you ahead of time. He gives you ample warning. And when He comes on that Last Day to judge the living and the dead, no one will escape it. You won’t be able to run away and hide.
But you won’t want to. Because on that day Jesus will “send his angels and gather his elect from all over the world.” To gather his elect into heaven. Into His kingdom that will never end.
The elect. That’s you. You for whom He died. God chose you in Christ before the creation of the world. God predestined you to be adopted as His sons through Jesus. You are redeemed by His blood. Your sins are forgiven. You are blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. You are His elect. His chosen. His died for people.
So now what? What are you, the elect, supposed to be doing in the meantime? Better listen to Jesus again. He says: “Be on guard! Be alert! Watch!”
After all, He’s coming in glory some day. When? We don’t know. He could come at midnight. He could come at dawn. He could come in the middle of the afternoon.
Not knowing the day or the hour is good for you. Really, it is! Think about it. If you know the day or hour, what will you do? You’ll blow off what Jesus says! “Be on guard? Alert? Watch?” We’d do just the opposite. Turn a deaf ear. Look the other way.
“No one knows about that day or hour. Don’t ask Me,” Jesus says. “Don’t ask the angels either. They’re ignorant about the timing of that day too. I just got done telling you: only the Father knows. But He’s not saying when. Only that it will happen.”
That’s good for you and me. It allows us to exercise our faith in Jesus who died for us. Jude put it this way: “build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” All that takes place when the Lord gathers you to hear His Word and eat at His Table in His holy house, the church.
You are to trust that when Jesus comes in glory on the Last Day He will treat you just as He does today. The absolution that you heard today was the judgment of the Last Day in miniature. And in that absolution Jesus spoke to you. He rendered a judgment. What was it? That you are acquitted. Set free. Forgiven. Because He is the one who died for you!
And more! The bounty overflows! More from Judge Jesus who bears the scars of Good Friday. He gives you His Good Friday — all atoning — sin forgiving Body and Blood to eat and drink. And He gives you a promise that will last until the end of time: “I forgive you. You are my elect ones!” That’s His judgment right now in the presence of the Father as well as all the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven.
There will be a day when you will “see the Son of Man coming in clouds with power and great glory.” And when that day comes (only the Father knows) there is no need to fear. Even on that day Son of Man Jesus remains the Savior who died for you His elect. And whether you’re alive or buried the angels will gather you wherever you are for the resurrection of the body and eternal life with the Holy Trinity and all the communion of saints in heaven.
What great joy! After all, the salvation that Jesus bestows “lasts forever. [His] righteousness never fails.”
In the Name of Jesus.