Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sermon for 11/10/13--Third-Last Sunday in the Church Year



I Told You So

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

“If only I had known.” It’s the ultimate statement of regret. Perhaps if we had been aware of what was to come, we could have made decisions or plans or whatever, and everything would have gone okay. The end of the world is especially worrisome. But Jesus does, indeed, give us that foreknowledge we desire. His words ring out clearly the saving promise of salvation: "See, I have told you beforehand!" Before all these things come to pass, Jesus tells His disciples about abominations in the temple, false messiahs and false prophets, doomsayers, suffering and horror! Is this meant to scare them, to get them to straighten up? No. He tells them these things to comfort them, to rescue them from those very enemies who will attack in the Last Days. Dear Christians, do not worry about these scary sounding tribulations and false preachers! Hear the Word of the Lord: "See, I have told you beforehand." Your comfort in a world that is coming to an end is that Jesus has spoken His Word. That Word rescues you from sin and death and the devil and his preachers and rests you securely in Christ, unto eternal life!

Why do we have false Christs and false prophets? Just think of what happened at Mt. Sinai. Moses, the man called by God to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, went up on Mt. Sinai and, as far as the people were concerned, he was never coming back. And with Moses out of the picture, they have Aaron carve an idol to worship out of gold. And what's worse, they call that idol "the Lord." And this is exactly what happens today. Christ seems a long time in coming. So people begin to seek after idols. They call upon these idols and false gods and false prophets who sound like the true Jesus, but they aren't like Him at all. Here people go looking for Jesus in all the places He has not promised to be. The go running out to the deserts, to places where they can see visions. Maybe they find a preacher who has knowledge he'll give about Christ if you pay your membership dues. People go seeking Jesus in their hearts or in their changed lives or in some emotional experience. They look for Jesus where miracles and signs are being showcased. They look for Jesus apart from His church and means of grace; apart from His Word and Sacraments; apart from the font and altar and pulpit and Scriptures. But such a Jesus can't save you.

The true Jesus doesn't come telling you to run to the desert or go in your closet to find Him. The true Christ is the Son of God who has come in the flesh to bear the wages of sin. And seeing Christ, the Father turns His fierce wrath away from you and onto His Son. All false Christs and false prophets will direct you to themselves or to your works. But the True Jesus directs you to Him, because He hung on the cross bearing your sins. His suffering is your freedom from sin, death, devil and hell. His sacrifice is the blood price of your salvation. His death is your life. His resurrection is your life too. That's what the real Jesus is all about: saving sinners!

Any preacher will tell you where to find Jesus. The difference between a false prophet and true preacher is that a preacher who is truly called by Christ will point you to Jesus where He Himself has promised to be—not in the desert, not in signs or wonders, not hidden behind the bleached teeth and perfect hair of a raging narcissist who will only point you to himself and a life of ease. Jesus is where He has promised to be: where two or three are gathered in His name; in the font in Holy Baptism; in the Word of Holy Absolution; in the Word delivered from the pulpit; and in His body and blood. Once again, with all these words of Jesus, He has told you beforehand. You need not doubt or wonder. You will find Him exactly where He said He would be.

There are times of trials and troubles, times of frustration and doubt, when it seems like Christ is never going to return. But I tell you, as Christ told His apostles and the Apostles recorded it in Holy Scripture: Jesus is here, now, in His church, at His font, speaking from His pulpit, feeding you from His altar. There you can be certain it's the real Jesus: the One who gave His life for you, the One who bore the Father’s wrath for you, the One who has made you a holy child of God. These are the end times. But do not be afraid. Jesus is here with you. The world will weep and wail at the prospect of eternal separation from the Father. But you, dear children of God, will break forth into songs of joy on that day, for it is the day the Lord comes to take you to be with Him forever. There is no need for doubt or fear. After all, Jesus told you ahead of time. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.               

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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