Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Sun and moon shall darkened be,We have seen the signs; the days are at hand. Have we seen false christs and false prophets? Just turn on the television, and Joel Osteen’s shining teeth and false promises are staring back at you. Within the visible Church, faithless Christians and false pastors ridicule such things as the Lord’s Prayer and the Creeds which confess the very Word of God, and replace them with liturgies which spring from the hearts of men and prayers for earthly riches. They take the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which are the work of God to forgive sinners and give them life, and turn them into decisions by which sinful men claim to prove their faith to the world and earn their place before God. Have we seen people pretending to know when Jesus is coming and where He will be? In the last month, another prophecy of the return of Christ has proven false—just one of many such predictions that have come and gone. If that’s not enough to convince you the day is at hand, remember this: the world praises laziness, abortion, lust, and everything else the Word of God calls evil, and it vilifies what the Word of God calls good and just and right. We are living in the days of which Jesus spoke. We are in the midst of the great tribulation, as indeed have been all who have lived by faith since Christ ascended.
Stars shall fall, the heavens shall flee;
Christ will then like lightning shine,
All will see His glorious sign...
Between all the horrors of a fallen world and the temptations of a false spirituality, the baptized are as surrounded by evil as Noah and his family before the flood. The life of a Christian is not a life of ease, nor does Jesus promise it will be; in fact, the opposite is true, for Jesus promises us that we will be persecuted because our Lord is despised by the world. Our life in Christ is a life lived under the cross. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something; a preacher who tells you that this is your best life is looking to add an addition to his mansion. Even in those instances where life is comfortable, when the weight of the cross isn’t as cumbersome, do not give into the temptation of believing this is God’s thank-you gift for your life of faith, lest you become so attached to your earthly blessings that you forget the things of God.
Our Lord knows we will go running for Him where He will not be found. He knows we will look for Him under every nook and cranny, thinking He will appear secretly to us first, before He appears to the rest of the world. Rest assured, we will know along with the rest of the world when Jesus returns visibly to judge the living and the dead. That’s a certainty that should put us at ease.
Jesus does give us the tiniest of hints about the when of Judgment Day. When we see or hear those false christs and false prophets who claim to have that “new revelation” or “insider information” concerning the End Times, we should stop walking toward them and put a finger in our ears. But hasn’t this been going on for a long time? Precisely! That’s why Paul says therefore comfort one another with these words. Though we might not think judgment is comforting, it is. Judgment is a certainty proclaimed in the Bible. We believe the Bible to be God’s error-free Word to us. No matter what anyone else says or does, we have the certainty of Holy Scripture that tells us the Truth about the faith.
Though we may not know what tomorrow holds, we know there is a bright future for those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Though we are sinners living in a sinful world, we live in the sure and certain hope of eternal life. While we live here, God feeds our faith through certain things. He attaches forgiveness, life, and salvation to words, water, bread, and wine. We believe that these means certainly sustain us until Jesus comes again to take us home.
The life in Christ through Word and Sacrament is certainty amid the mountains and valleys of uncertainty we tread every day. God’s people gather around God’s altar and pulpit to be comforted with God’s Word. His Word says Jesus will return as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west. Before you know it, the Lord is come, the dead will rise, the living will be caught up in the air with Christ, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. This is our certain hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. Christ is coming soon. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! 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.