25“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And on the earth nations will be in anguish, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the surging waves, 26people fainting from fear and expectation of the things coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28But when these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”
29He told them a parable. “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30As soon as they are sprouting leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is actually near. 31So also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Amen I tell you: This generation will not pass away until all these things happen. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34“Watch yourselves or else your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the worries of this life, and that day may come on you suddenly. 35For it will come like a trap on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36Stay alert all the time, praying that you may be able to escape all these things that are going to happen and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:25-36

I was really optimistic that the Sooners would beat the Longhorns in football yesterday.  Whether it was a hope or optimism I was expecting favorable results for a future outcome. Well…. (Oklahoma / Texas) won! While hope and optimism are related terms perhaps optimism expresses a bit more confidence, but still the outcome is uncertain. I can be optimistic it will happen, but it still may not; yet it might!  In God’s Word the word “Hope” is actually stronger in its meaning because it is always connected to the promises of God. These are promises that cannot be broken. The season of Advent is all about the future!  We Christians have more than just optimism when it comes to our future—we have certain hope because our hope is rooted in the promises of God. Several of these promises of God are in the Word of God for our consideration today.  Therefore may the Holy Spirit guide our hearts and minds as we meditate on

The Lord Who Comes With Hope Gifts, c

 

The Word of God that we’ve been sharing the past few weeks has come from Tuesday of Holy Week. Remember, Jesus was in the temple area while the disciples were admiring the stones when Jesus warned that the whole thing was going to be destroyed. Jesus preparing the people for this destruction of Jerusalem was a foreshadowing of an even greater destruction

. “25“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And on the earth nations will be in anguish, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the surging waves, 26people fainting from fear and expectation of the things coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28But when these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”

I read a study that said the US has been involved in some sort of war or conflict in 93% of the years of its existence. Worldwide there has never been a year when there wasn’t some nation at war, without natural disasters.  Jesus point is that the end could come at any moment. Some of these signs from Jesus seem to be signs at the very end, when the unpinning of the forces that hold the universe together become unhinged.  Pay attention to the signs! (Tell the story of when the trailer came unattached) When this happens you’ll see the “Son of Man” who is bringing you his gifts.

So, what are people saying today to prepare for Jesus? If you want your friend and relatives to be ready for Jesus when he returns, then please don’t forward them emails like this:

‘Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house not a creature was praying, not one in the house.  Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care in hopes that Jesus would not come there.  When what to my wondering eyes should appear but angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.  I fell to my knees, but it was too late; I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.  I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight; oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

Reading emails like these makes me kind glad the malls try hard to cover up the real meaning of Christmas with so much materialism!  Why?  Because some overzealous Christians have changed the Advent message of Good News at the arrival of the Son of Man bringing gifts and welcoming all people to a message of guilt and shame.  No wonder so many people think the church has come up with a scam of judgment and doom to scare people into membership.  Who would dare use the message of Advent and Christmas as a club to beat people up with guilt and leave them lying there fearfully unforgiven? We need to point our friends to the GOSPEL = Jesus the Son of Man!  Our Brother!  Listen to what Jesus said,

“At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

They will see the Son of Man!  The one who became one of us, lived perfectly, died, and rose!  Yes, there is a joyous Advent  message in these words to our sinful nature, our rebelliousness against God, and our sinful actions that condemn us as imperfect people!  But, Jesus speaks these words to his people so they would be made aware of their sinfulness, repent, and turn to await the arrival of The Son of Man who brings them the gift of hope!   Their Savior.  Their King! Jesus makes his point by using

The Illustration of the Fig Tree

29He told them a parable. “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30As soon as they are sprouting leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is actually near. 31So also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.”

You can tell that the season of summer is coming by looking at the signs in the tree. Likewise, when we look at the world and its events, we can tell the “season” of Christ’s second coming is not too far off. At any moment, we could see the stars fall and oceans drain. But, do we live this way? If we did then why would Jesus need to warn us,

34“Watch yourselves or else your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the worries of this life,”?

Because these signs have been repeated in history! Interesting word Jesus used that we translate “carousing”—it refers to the nausea or headache one gets from over indulgence. And how people do you know who like to dampen the “worries of this life” with a shot or two? Or maybe it’s the activities of a person who believes happiness can be found in ignoring God’s law and gratifying the flesh. Either way, the end result is a heart that is “weighed down” with guilt, fear, and at least do to their natural knowledge of God—a day of reckoning.  And this will cause stress! “Stress? Who me?” We know there are all sorts of reasons why people have anxiety and stress, whether emotional, physical or social.  Most agree that a major cause of anxiety is the inability to see an eventual “out.” People begin to think that some bad thing will continue to go on without relief. But, Jesus promises that all the “bad stuff” of this world will come to an end. Just look at the fig tree!

“Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30As soon as they are sprouting leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is actually near.”

Many of you know we have a peach tree in our front yard. Two summers ago I was leaving for Teen Camp and the tree was full of fruit about to be picked.  Next day I got the phone call that it was drying. It was a sign that something was happening to our tree!  (sprayed with weed killer instead of bug killer!  Oops!)  Yes, the Lord Jesus is coming back with his gift of hope!  And that is a promise we count on

Things that Will and Won’t Pass Away

32Amen I tell you: This generation will not pass away until all these things happen. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Have you ever wondered why the end didn’t come while the people Jesus was speaking to were still alive?  When Jesus is speaking this prophesy, he is speaking to people, those who have descended from Adam and Eve from generation to generation. Jesus makes his point clear—this type of people—those who reject the Messiah will do so right up until the time when Jesus returns. Sadly, this won’t pass away—There will always be people who reject that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Savior or the world. Then, after Judgment Day, when all people are raised to life, both believers and unbelievers, to be reunited with their bodies, there will be none who reject the truth.

So, Jesus comes with his gifts of hope Gladly—that won’t Pass Away!, and verse 33 is a strong promise on which we can stand.Luke 21 33

33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

What will pass away?  Sadly- Unbelievers and this universe    But, did you hear Jesus’ promise!  I know, it sounds really amazing.  Because it is! This is your redemption Jesus won for you!   What will pass away? Gladly- Sorrow, sin, trouble  It’s God’s gift!  Take it in faith and enjoy it in confidence! Jesus has promised it!

“…but my words will never pass away.”

You know the words Jesus means: “You are forgiven. You are Saved!  Nothing can take it from you! Not even

“in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea”

or if the sun drops from the sky, mountains crash into the sea, the earth explodes, and you sin more than you’d like, or have too much acne or too few friends, or too much regret, to too little time.  Never. Never. Never will Jesus forget about you and his promises to you. Jesus had words to say about paying for that sin of ours: “It is finished!”  These words will never pass away!

It is exactly these promises of Jesus that give us hope.  But, for those without Jesus—their response on Judgment Day will be hugely different: They will faint from terror, be perplexed having no clue what to do in order to escape what is happening, and those who haven’t fainted will look for a place to hide….their terror will not pass away but last for an eternity in hell.  But, for us who have hope in Jesus—we know the kingdom of God is near! We will not faint or hide

28But when these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”

(Tell story of the excitement of the kids at the fireworks show in Japan, compared to the scared dogs!) Can I say it? We believers will be watching the fireworks without fear because we know Jesus has arrived with his gifts of hope, salvation and peace! What’s not going to pass away—terror for the unbelievers and Jesus’ sure promises for believers. That’s why we are looking forward to Jesus coming to us with his gifts of hope and

Jesus’ encouragement for His people.

34“Watch yourselves or else your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the worries of this life, and that day may come on you suddenly. 35For it will come like a trap on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36Stay alert all the time, praying that you may be able to escape all these things that are going to happen and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

We can break down these encouragements into three groups

1) “Be Careful” Be alert to where you are.  Acknowledge the temptations before you, know which one are especially hard for you, and avoid them.  We are tempted to put our trust in good luck charms, or things blessed that are supposed to protect us from danger, and even sports fans with their silly rally hats and wearing the same jerseys to win a game.  These things don’t mean a pile of beans.  What is eternally important is being mindful of the ongoing need for you to be strengthened by Word and sacrament where our Savior of hope comes to us.  Remain faithful to that which sustains your faith.

2)”Watch” Literally-“not sleeping” It has the sense of “be alert” like one would need to be when standing guard on a night watch.  Live with the expectation, “Today is the day Christ comes back.”  Do not let the passing of days wear you out or cause you to lull yourself asleep.  It could be today!

3)Always ”Pray” This is one way we can always remain alert. We talk to God through prayer and then listen to his answers through the Word. Ask God to give us all we need “to stand before the Son of Man!”

You can be optimistic about all sorts of things. Win or lose. But, let’s hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Yes, life while waiting for Jesus means a life that will have suffering—even more so for believers! Yes, dear Christian friends, endure and live with joy, peace and purpose for you have hope for the future. You have Jesus who brings us gifts of hope that are eternally rooted in the promises of God.   Amen!