Friday, November 30, 2012

“Not If, But WHEN!” (Mark 13:32-33)

S-1345-LS of C 11/28/2012 Hymns: #611 vv 1-4; #446; (L.S. #473; #339 #340); #611 vv 5-7

Texts: Isaiah 51:4-6; Jude 20-25; Mark 13:24-37

Theme: “Not If, But WHEN!” (Mark 13:32-33)

Question: “Are you ready?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Meditation is from the Gospel Lesson: But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come (Mark 13:32-33).


Precious bride of Christ, on this last Sunday of the Church year we are challenged to be ready for Christ’s Second coming and or our final day on earth. To be sure it is not if this day will come, but when will it come. A Sunday school teacher asked her students, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would I get into Heaven?” “NO!” The children answered. “If I dedicate my whole life to the mission of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, would I go to heaven?” Again, the answer was “NO!” She continued, “If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, shoveled the snow, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into Heaven?” Again, the answer was “NO!” “Well,” the teacher continued, “then how can I get to Heaven?” In the back of the room, a 5 year old boy shouted out, “You gotta be dead!!!”

Today, as the Holy Spirit has gathered in His house, we hear the Word from St. Mark about the imminent return of Christ. And this gives us an opportunity to look at the future. The future is something we all have to face. The question is, “Are you ready for the return of Christ?”

The truth of the matter is that we all have an appointment at sometime in our life (unless Jesus returns first) with death. After death we all will have a second appointment. That appointment is with God. Therefore, how do we prepare for the day that is coming? Again, it is not if it come, but when it comes!

How many of us know when Jesus is going to return? The Bible is Crystal clear and teaches us that we do not know when the Lord will return. In our text today, we hear these words:
But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. Sadly, many have claimed they know when it is going to happen. We saw that last year when a California pastor stated on two different occasions the dates of the end time, and they both failed. Many throughout history have said the end is coming and still it didn’t happen. Still others have given up that Christ will return on Judgment Day. Yet, Peter teaches us saying: “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). It may appear that the world continues to go on, but I assure you that the day is drawing nigh. It is not if, but when.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Galatia wrote these words: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). If the Lord kept His promise to send His Son to redeem the world, don’t you think He will keep His promise to return a Second time? PAUSE.

It is evident that many, including Christians do not take Christ’s Second coming seriously or prepare for it properly. If they did, they would be more prepared for His return. I will use a regular event in our lives to convey my thoughts.

How is it that so many people get surprised by Christmas? They know that it is December 25th every year. Now, those who are surprised by it are not shocked that it comes, but they aren’t prepared for it financially. So many families get caught up in the feeding frenzy of Black Friday and charge it all up on the plastic and worry about having to pay for it later. How much money would a person save if they just prepared for it? To have $1000 to spend on Christmas a person who gets paid every other week would need to set aside $38 dollars every paycheck. But since they aren’t prepared for it, they often spend hundreds of dollars in interest and fees. They act as if Christmas isn’t going to come and their lack of preparation leaves them in the red.

The same is true of Christ’s Second coming. We know that He is coming back. He said so. To think and live otherwise is both foolish and reckless. Everything else that He said He was going to do has happened. He said “He would go to Jerusalem, suffer at the hands of the Jewish leaders, be crucified, die and be raised on the third day” And He did fulfill these promises. Why would He change now? So when Jesus says that He is coming back, but we live as though we are going to live here forever, we make no preparations in repentance, we will get surprised by His arrival. And when we are surprised by His arrival, what He will bring for us will be eternally unpleasant.

The lack of preparation is worst among Christians. If every Christian took Christ’s Second coming seriously, the pews of the Church would never be empty, we would not be able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper often enough, a day wouldn’t go by when the Bible wasn’t opened in every home and there would always be enough support for the ministry in financial resources and resources of time. But as we know, this is not the case. Pews sit empty each week. The Supper goes un-served, the family Bible gathers dust and there is never enough time, talents or treasure to do the work that the Lord calls His Church to.

So today, this Last Sunday of the Church Year, this Festival of Christ the King, serves as a wakeup call to us. Jesus is coming! Now is not the time for Him to find us sleeping! It is time to take seriously the Words of Jesus and be prepared for His return. It is not if He returns, but when He returns.

A little later in the text we read these words: “Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Oh, that we hear and heed the Words of the Master, Jesus Christ, to be prepared for His Second coming to take us home to be with Him forever.

Beloved in Christ, In Jesus’ day people wore a long outer garment that looked like a robe. When they were going to do some hard work or run somewhere, they would pull the bottom of the robe up and tuck it in their belt so it would not get in the way while they worked. Being dressed ready for service with lamps burning describes the servant in the first century who is awaiting the master’s return from a wedding banquet.

And it is fitting for us to be prepared as well. It is time for us to gird our loins and make us ready for action. The Holy Spirit, who has dressed us in these robes of Christ’s righteousness in our baptism, has us well dressed! We do this, as we gather week in and week out to hear the Word, meditate on the Word, partake of the Word offered at the Altar and live by the Word, as if Christ died yesterday, rose today and is coming tomorrow.

For after all, it is not if, but WHEN. Therefore, we say, “Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! Amen.”

Now the peace…


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