Second Sunday in Advent – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Luke 21:25-36 “To Stand Before the Son of Man”
December 10, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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Cleanse our conscience, we humbly ask You, Almighty God, by the daily visitation of Your grace, that, when Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, shall come in the company of all His saints, He may find us ready for His appearing, to meet Him without spot or blemish; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, now and forever. Amen. (The Lutheran Liturgy, companion altar book for The Lutheran Hymnal, p.51)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 21st chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
[Jesus said:] “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world….“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who comes to you in Word and Sacrament, visiting you with His grace, who is your reason that you don’t have fear as you see the day approaching, dear fellow redeemed:
The lights dim low in the auditorium. The children are waiting behind the curtains anxiously. The crowd has quieted down in their seats. Parents are excited to see their children. Finally, after all the practice, the many hours of putting together the sets, the music starts playing and the curtains open. The play has begun. There are lots of memories that have come from being in the plays in my youth. Now those plays were lots of fun for everyone involved, but I do remember how hard it was to get in front of the crowd. Your flight response is itching to try and take off when the spotlight shines and the crowd is staring back at you. With practice those nerves of being in front of people float away. To stand in front of a crowd is one thing, how about to stand before the Son of Man? As we get ready to celebrate Christ’s first visitation, we are told to watch and be ready, because we will stand before the Son of Man.
There were many who were standing in front of Jesus, or should I say, Jesus was standing before them. He taught large crowds. He had His disciples and whenever the religious authorities came after Him and put Him to the test, He stood before them and put them in their place. While Jesus was teaching and preaching, it looked easy for His enemies to stand in front of Him. There were also many who would not believe anything that He had to say. As Jesus moved closer to the end of His earthly life, His enemies would grow increasingly bolder. They would do anything they could to eliminate Him. They would finally arrest Him on trumped up charges of blasphemy. They would then take Him before the secular government, and Jesus would stand before Pilate as Pilate would deliver His fate. Pilate would execute an innocent man who stood before him, on a wooden cross, the punishment for criminals. If Jesus’ enemies were worried and feared the message that He brought them, well they haven’t seen anything yet. All they saw in Jesus’ first coming was that of a humble man.
This humble man has a message about when He comes again. For those who aren’t paying attention, it will be a scary sight. “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.” When natural disasters take place, they cause many people to freak out. The disciples when they were out on the water in the storm pleaded with Jesus because they believed they would drown. Jesus’ enemies may have been able to stand before Him while He was on earth, but this will not be the case at His second coming.
This message of the things to come is needed. We can use our eyes and ears to see and hear that the world is not ready and is not watching for the end. Satan’s lies are everywhere. We are constantly moving away from the belief that there is no God at all. People then use other religions to fill in the gap. Some believe that we can make things better or as we heard before, there will be time to make some life changes before the end draws nigh. We like to be caught up in the moment. Isn’t it better to think about the here and now, to make sure I am content? Why should we put any focus or stake into the future? If we want to focus on how Jesus came into the world the first time, then we must pay attention and believe what He says about being ready for His second coming. If we do not heed these warnings, then we are throwing our eternal future away. “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
This message that Jesus is teaching does not stray from what He has been teaching since He started His ministry. It doesn’t even stray from the message of Scripture. Jesus continues to teach a message of repentance. Once the world sees that they have failed God, that they have failed in their existence, it is then that Christ is revealed as the One who can restore what is lost. He has been there since the dawn of creation as His Word created all things. He witnessed the fall in the Garden, and He uttered the first promise. Now as all things become new, as Jesus came into the world to restore mankind to his position as sons of God, this broken world must be destroyed. Jesus will come again and make all things new.
To make things new means that Jesus would have to live in this painful, broken world. He would feel all the pain that it brings. As He lived in the world, as He preached repentance, He brought forgiveness to those who repented. He brought strength and comfort. And as He was rejected, as many stood before the Son of Man as He hung on the cross, it was there on that cross where He paid for the sins of the world. So that they wouldn’t be counted against those who listened to the message of repentance. After watching the plan of salvation unfold, Jesus tells His disciples that they need to continue to be watchful. He will come again. The disciples would be prepared because they had Jesus’ Word as He says, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”
You are prepared for Jesus’ advent. He has given you His holy Word. The light in the darkness. Jesus has been ascended for almost two thousand years and today you are hearing the messages that He taught long ago. You hear His call for repentance. You hear how He came down from heaven, was born, lived, and died for your sins. This Word continues to prepare you. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:4-6). Christ and His Word is what makes you ready for the end, you are ready for His second coming.
As you continue to watch and be prepared for Jesus’ second coming, watch for those who are worried about the signs of the end of the age. They will attempt to get you to be worried as well. The devil will also attempt to fool you with his lies saying that you aren’t ready, and aren’t good enough to stand before the Son of Man. When the devil reveals his ugly head and as the sign of the end starts to cause those who don’t believe to become distressed, your hope and encouragement is found in the Son of Man. It was the Son of Man who died on the cross for your sins. He stood in your place, condemned before God so that you can stand before Him in His glory.
There will be fear for most as we already see fear because of the weather and the climate. As they try to prolong the inevitable, that the world will pass away, they realize that they will have to stand before the Son of Man when it is all over. Jesus wants the world to heed His warning. “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” No one can escape the end, but because of what Christ has done, we can be prepared as Christ is with us in His Word.
Just like preparing for a play, practicing, and practicing, it all comes full circle when the curtains rise, and the spotlight is shined down on the actors. As the opening song begins, the nerves fade because the children realize they are ready. We are ready to stand before the Son of Man. The Son of Man has prepared us for this moment. He preached repentance and He brought forgiveness. He preached a warning about the signs that will come and He brought peace to the world arriving in a manger to save it. He ascended to His throne, and He will come again because He keeps His promises. Jesus has given you His holy and blessed Word which brings you comfort and joy for all these things. “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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