Last Sunday in the Church Year Trinity Lutheran Church
22 November 2015 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
“What I say to you I say to everyone: WATCH!” Those are the Lord’s words. His exhortation. “WATCH!” For what?
Watch for the time when the Lord Jesus will reveal Himself in glory on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead. He says it will happen. It will be cataclysmic! Catastrophic. Calamitous. Not because of a supposed global warming or climate change but because Jesus will reveal Himself as the Lord for all to see. Jesus says that on that day – BECAUSE OF HIS GLORIOUS REVEALING AS THE LORD: “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heaven.”
Yes, there will be a Last Day. Judgment Day. The end of all things is coming. It will happen. You just heard Jesus promise it. Jesus says that His coming on the Last Day is “near – at the very gates [or door].” “Heaven and earth will pass away,” Jesus says, “but my words will not pass away.”
Does that surprise you? Shock you? Have you abolished Judgment Day in your thinking and living? Is it even on your radar screen? Do you just blow it off as a nothing? Snoozing. Snoring. If so, you need to wake up and start paying attention. You need to listen carefully to today’s sermon. The Lord put me here to preach and teach these words of His to you. I’m the Lord’s ambassador sent to speak His Word. So, it’s time to wake up! To be alert. Jesus says so: “What I say to you I say to all: STAY AWAKE!” Why? Because your eternal salvation or your eternal damnation depends on it! Really it does. Either heaven will be your everlasting home or hell will be.
Better listen to Jesus again. He says: “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke of the Last Day this way: “The heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail,” (Is 51:6). The apostle Peter preached it this way: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed,” (2 Peter 3:10).
Jesus, when He speaks of the Last Day, He quotes Isaiah 13: “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Revelation 1:7 (echoing the prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14) declares: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who have pierced him and all tribes of the earth.” At His ascension the angels tell the apostles: “This same Jesus … will come back in the same way you have seen go into heaven,” (Acts 1:11).
On the Last Day, Judgment Day, Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats, believers from unbelievers. Believers, the elect, the Lord’s chosen ones, are given the eternal joys of heaven. Unbelievers are given the eternal torment of hell. Again the prophecy of Daniel put it this way: “But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt,” (Dan 12:1-2). In Matthew 25 Jesus tells it like this. To the believers, His elect – the sheep He will say: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” To the unbelievers, the goats He will say: “Depart from me, you cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
So, now that we have that straight let’s get a couple of other things about the Last Day straight too.
First, you can’t predict when it will happen. You don’t know when Jesus will reveal Himself in glory on the Last Day to judge all people. That includes all the big shot, mega, eye candy preachers in America. When anyone (and I don’t care how nice they look, how often they quote the Bible and how much they say they love Jesus) – when someone predicts a date for the Last Day, you know he or she is a total fraud. An imposter. A false prophet. An instrument of the Antichrist.
It’s better to listen to Jesus. He knows what He’s talking about. Check it out. “Concerning that day or that hour, now one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Did you catch that? Only the Father knows. Jesus doesn’t. He chooses not to know. The angels don’t know. You don’t either. So, Jesus says, “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” It is as Jesus says: “You do not know when the master of the house will come. He may come in the evening. Or at midnight. Maybe at dawn when the rooster crows. Or in the morning. You don’t know. But you do know this. He will come suddenly. So watch. Stay awake so that He doesn’t find you sleeping.”
Second, when that day comes Jesus will be the one sitting in the judge’s seat! You won’t! Jesus will do the judging. You won’t. Jesus will do the talking. His words are what count salvifically. Yours don’t. Your words are never better than the Lord’s. I know. I know. You are so used to putting God on trial. Prosecuting Him 24-7-365 in your mind. Calling on God to justify Himself. Judging God! You act like you’re the judge and that your words are divine. I remind you. Jesus is Lord. You are not. He is the judge. You are not. His words are divine. Yours are not.
So, it’s time. It’s time for all of you to repent and to hear the Lord’s words and take them salvationly seriously: “What I say to you I say to all: STAY AWAKE!”
Yes. Stay awake. Watch. In order to hear Judge Jesus speak to you. To hear His judgment of you. After all, every Sunday is Judgment Day ahead of time – Judgment Day in miniature –Judgment Day dress rehearsal if you will – as Jesus – with His Good Friday wounds showing – pronounces you the guilty sinner totally forgiven in His Word and Sacrament. At the beginning of the divine service you heard the living voice of Christ in the absolution. You were judged. But the judgment was acquittal. Forgiven.
Truly, you are forgiven. Jesus died for you. He rose for you. Your sin is His. His righteousness is yours.
Stay awake brothers and sisters! Don’t fall asleep. Be vigilant. There is more. In just a few moments, Jesus, the very Jesus who will judge the living and the dead on the Last Day, has something to say to you in the presence of all the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven. Once again it’s a judgment. His words do and give what they say. My Body given for you. My Blood shed for you. Eat it. Drink it. It is for the forgiveness of your sins.
As you believe so you have. Then you’re ready for the Last Day. It won’t catch you off guard. No need to fear. You’ve rehearsed for it all your life. Every Sunday in the divine service you hear Last Day Judge Jesus. Every Sunday you hear His verdict. It is FOR YOU. YOU ARE FORGIVEN! SAVED! HIS ELECT!
In response to the Lord’s word of forgiveness faith responds like Jude in his Epistle: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen,” (Jude 25).