Luke 21:25-36 (Advent Midweek 2 2016)
In the name of Jesus who is coming soon.
St. Luke 21:28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads because your redemption draws near.
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ our Lord… Your redemption is Jesus! He’s the One who went through death and hell to save you. He’s the One whose coming we are decorating and preparing our lives for to celebrate on Christmas.
We learn from Holy Scripture that the Son of Man comes in His glory, in the clouds of heaven. God Himself comes. The heavens shake, the seas foam, the nations are perplexed, the sky darkens, the heavenly bodies flicker and it looks like everything is destroyed… or is about to be.
All appears to be lost; everything seems to be coming apart; it doesn’t look like it can possibly get any worse. Everything you know and trust melts away in the wrath of God. God melts everything in His coming. And when all of that takes place, God bids you to look up – to lift up your heads – for your redemption draws near.
That, dear fellow redeemed, is the glorious, joyful, happy truth of the Advent season: God’s advent saves you. Not by you changing or fixing your life – although you should change and you do need to fix your life. Nor does God’s advent save you by you committing your life to God. That only ends in failure.
No, His coming saves by God changing from wrath to forgiveness; from anger to mercy; from destruction to love. Look up. Lift up your heads. Your redemption draws near!
His coming saves you; His coming pulls you out of your sins, out of death, out of your despair, to His buying you back. You were lost, now you’re found. You were dead, now you’re alive. You were an enemy of God, now you’re His very own child.
God Himself has taken on your sins, your iniquities, your hate, your unforgiveness, your self-centeredness, your grudges, and your pain. He’s taken it all on in His Cross and death.
It wasn’t just that your heart, like the Grinch’s, was “two sizes too small.” That wasn’t your problem. It’s that your heart was dead to God. His cross is your death to sin. His Easter is your forgiveness before God.
And in Christ’s forgiveness all that you are and all that you ever will be has been redeemed by His death. All your sins have been answered for; all your pain has been felt; all your death has been died for. The tank of the wrath of God is empty because it has all been poured out upon His Son whose death makes it joyful things to sing “God and sinners reconciled…” and not just at Christmas, but for all time.
That is eternal life for you and for those around you. That is life for your friends, and your family; and that is also eternal life for your enemies and those that let you down. You are saved by grace through God-given faith.
And this salvation doesn’t change on the Last Day, as if He cared for you because of Jesus and then suddenly on the Last Day He’s going to deal with you as you deserve. No! His Baptism saves you today. Jesus’ forgiveness saves you this minute. His supper saves you every Lord’s Day and every time you receive it. And His gifts coming to you save you on the last day too. They alone can.
Sometimes things get so dark, things get so icky, things get so full of pain that you feel alone. And you look around in the midst of pain and think, “it can’t get any worse,” and then it does. Despair sets in because you are afraid it won’t get any better and then it doesn’t appear to get any better.
And to get out of that despair and that loneliness you’ll say anything, you’ll do anything, you’ll make any deal with God that you think He’ll take.
And when He doesn’t come through for you, it’s as if things have gone from bad to worse, because now it seems that even God doesn’t care.
And on top of everything else – all the pain, all the loneliness, all the sin – is the simple fact that you suffer because it’s all your fault. You are the one that wrecked your relationships with those around you. You are the cause of your pain, you are the cause of your sins. Adam blamed Eve. You blame others. But, you know better, don’t you? You think, when the lights go out, that God’s mad at you. And you know that if He’s mad at you, it’s because of something you did.
And that is what makes the good news of this Gospel all the sweeter! When everything is lost and everything is falling down in your life, in your family, in your church; when you see even the heavens themselves shake, Jesus says, “Look up. Lift up your head, your redemption draws near.”
When all else is lost and you can’t rescue yourself from today, let alone the Last Day, at that moment in His coming, you are saved.
Repent today of your sins; repent of your despair and fatalistic negativity. Repent of blaming others for what you do. Those things won’t make the Last Day any better. They don’t even make today better.
Repent and believe this Gospel! Know that even in your failures, still you are saved, you are loved, you are forgiven. In the unfixed life you have been shown mercy by God. In your pain and suffering, there was One who went through pain and suffering and its end — death itself, for you and in your place.
Jesus is coming, and with His coming is your redemption. The same Jesus who saved you today has saved you on the Last Day, too. His present tense salvation is a present tense salvation today, and a present tense salvation on the Last Day with ongoing and eternal results.
There is an end to suffering and pain. There is an end to hurting. There is a life that is the light of the Son of God who reigns forever and ever. There is a place where no one lets anyone down, and it is joyful and happy all the time.
Christ is your redemption. He is your life. He is your salvation. You will be in the light of His life on the Last Day. You are in that light and life today by God-given faith. It is true now, and it will be true on that most glorious Day.
I have no promises for you that life will get better. Sometimes it just hurts. But dear fellow redeemed, we do have this certain hope that life is already better in Christ.
And when you find that it can’t get any worse, that it’s never going get any better and there’s no hope of any happy ending, remember His promises today: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Keep looking up. Keep your head up. Your salvation draws near. Your Jesus draws near. He is your salvation. He is your hope. He is your redemption.
In the name of Jesus, who is coming soon.