Sermon Text — Mark 13:23-37
November 22, 2015, Last Sunday of the Church Year
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Mark’s gospel account the 13th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Signs of the End
“Those days” in our text are the “end of days”, the “last days”, these days. For in many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these “last days” He has spoken to us by His Son. The Bible teaches us that the end of days, the last days, are marked by God’s revelation, God’s speaking through His Son. Those days began 2000 years ago. The last days are these days. And because Jesus is speaking about “these days” He is speaking about “our days”. Nothing could be more important for us to hear these days than the Word of God’s Son in our text this morning.
Our days, these last days, are ripe with fulfillment. Like figs dangling from the tree the signs are all around us. The harvest is near. The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars all give warning. The greater light, the light that governs the days, the very Word of the Living God, is dimmed in our midst by those same false teachers Jesus warned us about last week. The Moon, the lesser light, the light given to scatter the darkness in this world, Christ’s Holy Church, suffers as the agents of darkness rage against her. Blood is spilled. Heads are lopped off. The War against Christ is waged against His Christians throughout the world. And the stars – those messengers of light in Christ’s kingdom fall away. Chasing after glory promised by money, power and lust they surrender the greater light, abandon the lesser light, and plunge headlong into the abyss. The powers in the heavens are shaken as Christ and His Christians enter into combat “not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12 ESV). Many today grow weary. Many today are deceived. Many more today bury their heads in their secular neo pagan worldview refusing to acknowledge the evil before them and turning a blind eye to the signs of the times.
And we Christians who ought to know better, too often veer into the grassy knolls of this world and are overcome with fascination of things below, neglecting things above, drifting here and there like lost souls on a darkened path. We know not where to step, but we don’t care because with each step we are being entertained, amused. Yes, we’re amusing ourselves to death, dreaming our souls away, pursuing a lie.
We want to feel alive, to feel everything to the fullest, and so what we do, and what happens? We become over sensitive. Our feelings get hurt. We get offended. We get mad. We learn to hate and so have no feeling for our neighbors.
We want a full and rich life. So we become gluttons. We gorge on food and drink hoping to satisfy our hunger and thirst. We indulge in fleshly pleasures hoping to experience it all – whatever that means. And in so doing we isolate ourselves from our friends and family. We never really connect with anyone, learn to love anyone, or are able to even be loved by those around us because we’re so busy out there trying to live it up.
You see beloved, dreamy lives are really sleepy lives and sleepy lives are incapable of addressing the evils of our day. They don’t even want to. Suffering interrupts that. Suffering is such a buzz kill. Such people just want to keep on sleeping their lives away updating their status and tweeting their excitement over things that will never matter. Suffering prevents all that. In this way, trial and tribulation, suffering and affliction, persecution and war are used by our Lord to arouse us from our dreamy state of being. Life’s difficulties are meant to keep you from trusting in yourself, or in anyone else.
What we thought would last forever simply won’t. There is no eternal earthly city. If mighty Rome could fall anything can fall. No institution can stand, no culture can remain apart from and in opposition to the Lord’s will. As the Sun, moon, and stars are darkened with unbelief and fall away, so also does our civilization, our institutions, our culture, all that was once good. Then come the idols. Idols are like cockroaches, they come out in the darkness and are scattered by the light. As our world is darkened with sin it should not surprise us that our spiritual adversaries set up false gods on every corner offering hope, peace, and entertainment but delivering nothing but grief and sorrow. None of this will endure. No nation, no culture, no political movement, no philosophy, no theological innovation, no “next great thing”. None of it shall remain. No stone shall be left one upon another. No idol shall survive.
The Word Remains
These all have an end. The world has an end. You have an end. Sin, death, devil all will end. Look around you! Wake up! Hear the message. The days are upon us. The Savior’s return is near, very near, at the gates even! Upon His return eternal sorrow shall overcome the hearts of all who turned a deaf ear to the gospel. But everlasting joy shall fill the hearts of those longing for the Savior’s hand to wipe away every tear from their eyes. The gates shall be opened and the redeemed shall march through to shouts of Glory and Alleluia!
For this reason Jesus first came. For this reason He was born. For this reason He gave testimony to the truth. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was before anything else was. Through Him all things were created and nothing was created apart from Him. God sent His Word and His Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This Word turned water into wine, healed the blind man and gave strength to paralyzed legs. God’s Word was nor ordinary word. God’s Word walked and talked and touched and healed. He gazed upon the oppressed and raised up the fallen. His was a visible Word, a tangible Word, a Word that could be seen as well as heard, a Word that could be felt as well as received. When God sent His Word to be born God sent His heart not to condemn but to save, not to take life but to give it, not to entertain but to redeem.
All of His Word and all of His Works came to completion on the cross. Everything Jesus said led up to the cross. Everything Jesus did was always in light of His death. He came to take away sins, your sins, my sins, the sins of the whole World. Taking away sins meant that he took them upon Himself. He took them and carried them. The punishment for our iniquities was upon Him, laid on His back at His baptism and prosecuted in Him on the cross. The Word became flesh to die, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Heaven and earth may pass away but sin, death, devil and hell cannot overcome the One who is the resurrection and the life. Darkness can overshadow Him for three hours, but it cannot scatter the One who is the Light and the Life of the World. Death can encompass Him, our enemies and adversaries can taunt Him, but not even the grave itself can hold Him. The Word endures forever. The Light scatters the darkness. Life triumphs as Jesus rolls away the stone, throttles Satan and knocks the teeth from death’s jaws and steps out of death and the grave never to die again. The Word endures forever.
When you were baptized you were immersed in this eternal Word, this Word made flesh, this Word that was sacrificed for your sins and rose from the dead on the third days. You were crucified with Christ and you were raised with Christ. All that would come to an end in you was drowned in those waters and because you have been united to Christ the eternal Word of God, the Word that endures forever, you also shall endure. You shall live forever. The Light has shown the brightness of God’s heart to your heart and through faith in His Word and promises those Words and promises keep and preserve you for the day of judgement.
All that you are tempted to trust in this world shall be undone. But not God’s Word, not your baptism into Christ nor His absolving of your sins. You have that which will never pass away. This is completely contrary to all reason and experience. For what the eyes behold are stones standing one upon another. Institutions that have survived the ages. All that gives the appearance of endurance shall cease but that which seems to come and go – Words that are heard one moment and then seem to disappear – that is what remains. Why, because God’s Words are not ordinary words. They do what they say and give what they promise. And therefore the baptized are given to be hearing God’s Word. By God’s Word you are forgiven of your sins. By God’s Word you are crucified to the world and the world is crucified to you. By God’s Word you are kept and preserved for the day of judgement from sin, death and hell. By God’s Word you are able to withstand the flaming arrows of Satan, the taunts of our enemies, the persecutions that are sure to come on account of the Name of Jesus, whatever trial and tribulation are to come your way. Nothing shall hurt or harm you because by God’s Word you are in Christ Jesus. Not even death itself can terrorize the one who believes in Christ for death has been conquered.
Ready at the End
Beloved in the Lord, “those days” are “these days”, our days, even today. Look around. Listen! Wake up! Those who waste away their days dreaming of comfort and excitement will reap their reward. God has given you something greater, purer, something full of life, His life, life that endures. God has given you His Word. The Word endures forever. Are you ready for what is to come? Are you ready for the storm to thrash about you and your loved ones? Are you ready for our adversary to do what he wills? Are you ready to give the good witness and fight the good fight of faith? Set your heart and things above, things that matter, things that endure. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly that it overflow your life into the lives of your neighbor. For the day is coming when the Son of Man will descend from the heavens on the cloud. The day is coming when sin shall finally and forever be put down. The day is coming when death and hell shall be Christ’s footstool. And what a day that shall be!!!! What day for us who believe. We shall Him face to face. We shall see Him as He is! A mighty roaring Lamb who sits on the throne, whose hands bear the print of the nails and whose finger wipes away every tear from our eyes. Come Lord, Jesus! Come quickly. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!