25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:25-36

Texas is one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and that means there are lots of transplants who don’t understand what it means to live here. When someone moves to Texas, they quickly realize things like everyone says, “Y’all,” and that everyone believes they have the best BBQ. One thing that all new homeowners to Texas quickly realize is that their homes have cracks in the walls. And for many who haven’t lived in clay soil, those cracks can cause a lot of grief. They may look at the cracks as a sign their house wasn’t built right or that they need to watch the DIY network or YouTube to figure out how to patch drywall. Some may even spend thousands every few years on a professional foundation repair company. For most of us, our home is the biggest investment we make and when it shows signs of passing from standing firm to falling apart, it makes us feel anxious. No matter how well we take care of our homes though, all these things around us that make us feel at home, even the great state of Texas will pass away someday. Our gospel lesson from Luke 21 tells us that heaven and earth will pass away someday, but that we can have sure hope in Jesus’ words that will never pass away.

At first, Luke 21 seems like a strange place to begin a new church year. Today is the first Sunday in the season of Advent, meaning it’s the first Sunday of the new church year. The word, “Advent,” means coming and for the next four Sundays, we will be looking forward to the first “coming,” of Jesus at Christmas. Luke 21 seems like an odd place to begin the season that looks forward to Jesus first coming because Luke 21 is all about Jesus’ second coming. The events of Luke 21 happen during the last week of Jesus’ life between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, when he suffered and died on the cross. In this chapter, Jesus connected his first coming to his second coming. Jesus first coming was to redeem the world from sin and death through his sacrifice on the cross, while his second coming would complete the redemption of his people by taking them out of this dead world and into heaven to live forever. He told his disciples that there would be signs before the second coming, signs that would frighten the rest of the world, but signs that would keep believers ready and watching for Jesus’ return.

The signs Jesus told the disciples to look for would be seen by all people. As Jesus talked with his disciples in Jerusalem and around the temple as his earthly ministry was ending, he wanted the disciples to be ready for life without him until he returns. Toward the beginning of Luke 21, some of the disciples were talking about how beautiful the temple was, but Jesus told them it was going to be destroyed. The comment came as a surprise to the disciples. Then, Jesus went on to say that not only the temple would be destroyed, but the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed, the disciples themselves would suffer and eventually the world would be destroyed. Jesus said,

25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

The signs Jesus spoke of were on an incomprehensible scale, not only things near and dear the disciples were going to be destroyed, but the universe itself was going to be shaken. The signs Jesus told the disciples to look for would be seen by all people, but recognized by few.

Jesus said that these signs would cause great panic and fear for everyone who did not understand that they pointed to Jesus’ return. As he revealed these things to the disciples,

29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

Jesus’ point was simple; just like things happen in nature to show the changing of the seasons, things would happen in the world to show Jesus was going to return. Jesus’ point was simple, but many would never understand. It’s simple to understand that cold white powder on the ground means winter is coming and that pretty buds and flowers means spring has arrived. On the other hand, the roaring and tossing of the sea during a hurricane or tsunami doesn’t make an immediate connection in people’s heads that Jesus’ is going to return. Instead, the signs Jesus spoke of cause most people to panic that the world is ending, which is why Jesus warned the disciples saying,

34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth.

Since the world will not be able to see the connection between the signs Jesus spoke of and his second coming, many will end up searching anxiously to make the feel better while the world around them falls apart. All the while missing out on the peace that hope in Jesus gives to believers.

We cannot live as if we don’t understand the connection between the signs and Jesus’ return. The signs Jesus gave us to watch for have been happening ever since he went back into heaven. He spoke of wars, famines, natural disasters and the persecution of Christians. All of these have been happening so that we would always be ready for Jesus’ return at any time. He never wants a moment to pass by when we get caught up in the anxious worries of the world around us that war, weather or weakness might mean the end of our lives. The world around us lives in fear and searches constantly to escape and cope with the fearful signs that this world is lost in sin and coming to an end, but we no longer put all our hope in the things of this world that will pass away. Instead, we haveLuke 21 33

hope in Jesus’ words, 32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Everyone who believes Jesus’ words will stand firm when they see the signs pointing to his second coming. The fearful events taking place around us all point our eyes towards heaven, not to the earth. Jesus said,

28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Jesus’ first coming was to redeem us. He came to buy us back from death by sacrificing himself on the cross. At Jesus’ second coming, he will finish buying us back by taking us to heaven. When the time is right, Jesus said,

27 … they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

When Jesus returns, he will use his power to separate between the things that will last and those that will not last.

Since we have hope in the events of Jesus’ first coming, we have hope for his second coming. In our first lesson from Jeremiah 33, the prophet Jeremiah pointed the people of his time ahead to the first coming of the Savior. The sign he gave was that

15 In those days and at that time, I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; 16 …This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

This sign of the Savior’s first coming would have seemed as foolish for Israel at that time to believe as for people today to believe that an earthquake in Alaska points to Jesus’ second coming. Most would have thought Jeremiah foolish to say that a king was going to rise from David’s line because during Jeremiah’s lifetime, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the nation of Judah, which was all that remained of God’s people Israel, after the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed over one hundred years earlier by the Assyrians. Yet, six hundred years after Jeremiah wrote these prophetic words, Jesus was born to two descendants of David, Mary and Joseph, and earned the right to be called the Lord our Righteous Savior by saving all people through his perfect life and innocent death on the cross.

Jesus wants you to have hope in what will never pass away. Jesus gave three encouragements as

28 … these things begin to take place…because your redemption is drawing near.

You and I are only able to see the world in its helpless and hopeless state without Jesus. He was the one who helped us by taking away our sins and impending punishment by his death on the cross. He is the one who sent the Holy Spirit to give us hope in his resurrection and promise to return to bring us to live with him in heaven. He also knows that until we reach heaven, we won’t fully experience his redemption. On the one hand, we have been bought back from death, but we aren’t yet free from the sinful world.

Therefore, Jesus tells us to be

34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.

When it’s easier to cope with our sins through reading, watching, listening, drinking, eating, dating, living with something that temporarily distracts or dulls us from the anxieties of life, Jesus tells us to be careful. Instead, he calls us to lighten our burdens by reading and listening to his word, eating and drinking the Lord’s supper, remembering our baptism washing away our sins and living with fellow believers. He tells us to 36 Be always on the watch, because he could come back at any time and if we are watching for him, then we will be focused on the blessings waiting for us in his kingdom of heaven and that hope will get us through the difficult times in this world. And finally, Jesus tells us to

pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Jesus wants us to remain connected to him in prayer, asking for him to give us what we need to stand firm in him and free from the hopeless searching of the anguished and perplexed world.

Texas is one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and that means there are lots of transplants who don’t understand what it means to live here. That means many haven’t lived in clay soil where cracks in our homes are just a part of life. For native Texans though, we know that most of those cracks in our biggest investment can be taken care of by running an inexpensive drip line around our house. Then we are careful, we watch and pray that running the drip line a few times a week will keep our house standing firm. Native Texans know how to deal with cracks in their walls because they know what the signs mean. Jesus took his disciples’ simple comments about the temple and turned it into an explanation of the signs marking his second coming. The disciples didn’t know what to look for or what was coming until Jesus told them. At first the signs filled the disciples with fear, but after Jesus explained that the signs were pointing to his return to finish their redemption, the disciples had hope. The days ahead for them were still not easy, but recognizing the signs meant they could stand firm even if the world around them fell apart. Jesus gave us the same signs to look forward to and though the world around us does not recognize the signs, and frantically searches for things to keep them calm while the earth falls apart, we will stand firm with hope in Jesus’ words that will never pass away, “Our redemption is drawing hear.” Amen.