Trinity 26 / 2nd Last Sunday
November 19, 2017 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Collect expects that mindfulness of the end of all things and the expectation of the day of just judgment will, or at least should, stir us up to holiness of living. When the lion is away the mice will play. The Lion of Judah is coming back in His glory. This is not time to play. Be warned.
That Lion came once in meekness. He allowed evil men to do their worst to Him. He turned the other cheek. He has always been a Lion. Yet even though the armies of angels were His to command He came as a Lamb to the slaughter. Do not mistake His meekness and His strength of purpose for weakness or indecision. The Lion of Judah is coming back in His glory.
He comes now, as He has been for the past 2000 years in the meekness of grace hidden in earthly elements and known only by those with faith. This is not weakness. It is compassion. He comes to us in a way that we might receive Him and not be destroyed. Having given up His life and taken it up again, He no longer suffers or turns the other cheek. The Sacrifice is complete. So far He has not yet flexed His glory. He comes in meekness by Word and Sacrament in gentle love. The waters of Holy Baptism are not deep enough to drown the world. The bread and wine will not choke us. His Word of Absolution is gentle and inviting. Through all this, He beckons us, woos us, to repentance and faith. He calls us to a place at His table and even into the bridal chamber. “Come, beloved of My Father,” He says, “and partake of what I have won for you. Come, and in what I have instituted and given be forgiven, healed, and restored. Come to Me, stay with Me, love Me.”
Soon, however, the day of invitation with end. He will come in glory. That glory will be terrible to behold. He will open the books. He will judge. In that judgment He will trample down His enemies, making them drunk in His wrath. He will separate amongst the peoples of the earth, people from all times and eras, according to their works. Some will be welcomed as His children, given His inheritance. His children will protest that they did nothing so good as He claims. They are not wrong.
Those invited to His right hand are saved by grace not by works. They are given an inheritance as a gift that they did not earn. That is why the protest.
You are in that group. You did not baptize yourself but you are baptized. You did not earn His love but you belong to Him and you hear His call. You love His Word and His Law. You seek to worship and praise Him and serve your neighbor. You know, however, your failings and imperfections. You dare not be judged by the purity of your heart. But when He says, “come,” you come. His Word makes all things so. You do not insist on your own way but you struggle to live by faith. You repent and believe. You confess and rejoice. Through you God is doing more good in this world than you know.
He comes in glory to judge. Not everyone will be called to His side. Many will be cast out and cursed. They will be tossed into the eternal fire prepared for Satan and his angels. They will go where no man should have ever gone, to a place not prepared for them. He said, “Come,” and they said “no.” He said “Be My beloved” and they said, “I am happy as I am.” He said, “Take and eat” and they said, “I am full” or “It is only bread” or “Maybe later.” They are proud of their works. They protest the judgment. “When were we every not good enough?” But there is no appeal. Their hearts are impure. They rejected grace so they can only be judged by the Law. The Law sends them to the place of their own ignorant or selfish or malignant choosing.
Now is not the time for mice to play. It is the time to prepare. Don’t think that this is the lesson of the ants and the grasshopper. It isn’t. Preparation for the Lord’s return isn’t in the works of men, storing up stuff or merit, working hard and being frugal or even being clever and wise. All those things are great and Christians will engage in them. We’re more ants than grasshoppers, to be sure.
But this is the lesson of the boy who cried wolf – just not the way we usually hear it. The point of the boy who cried wolf is usually taken as a warning. Don’t cry wolf falsely or prematurely because if you do then people won’t take you seriously. That is a good point. But there is another lesson here. What of the villagers? They grew complacent because of the boy’s immaturity. When the cry was real, they did not believe him and they were destroyed. We prepare for the coming of the Lord in glory. We must ignore the stupid, lying boys who falsely cry wolf and yet, at the same time, we must still know, and never forget, that there is a wolf.
We do not know when the Son of Man will come in His glory. Satan uses false predictions to lull us into complacency. We live in an age of religious rascality and secular shenanigans. We are so accustomed to be lied to or being sold something that it is hard to recognize the truth let alone believe it when we hear it. Those who claim to be the church can’t be trusted. The pope can’t be trusted. Television preachers can’t be trusted. Brothers and sisters in Christ, I cannot be trusted.
I am not the boy who cried wolf. I am in the village with you. But I am crying now. You know I’ve been full of beans more times than not, that my opinions are fickle and immature and vain. You can’t trust me. But you can trust God and His Word. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promises. He is coming back. Do not be lulled into complacency by the false cries of end time predictions or ostentatious fantasies of the rapture and dragons and sci-fi extravagances.
The Son of Man will come in His glory, like a thief in the night, when no one can work or change his course. Let mindfulness and expectation of this stir you up to holy living that when the Son of Man returns He will find you waiting for the new heavens and the new earth, like virgins recently awakened with lamps burning.
And never forget this: though He comes in glory His mercy endures forever. He comes with grace and healing. Though He is terrible to behold to the fallen eyes of men He will say to you: “Come, inherit the Kingdom that I prepared for you from the foundation of the world. This is what I baptized you for. I am not here to destroy you. I am here to get you, to pull you out, to rescue you. Leave your stuff behind along with your sins. You don’t need any of it.”
Come, Lord Jesus. Come, quickly.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.