Luke 21:25-36 | ‘Coming in Glory’ | Advent 2 | December 5th, 2010
Jesus is coming again in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and I’ve got a question that I want you to consider: “Is that good news or bad news for you?” Think about this a bit while we do a bit of catechism stuff about the Lord’s Second Coming.
First, the second coming of our Lord Jesus is constant throughout the Scriptures. The New Testament is constantly holding this future event before us.
[The angel] said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Matthew 25:31-32)
It is important to impress on our minds often that this promise still stands, for the Scriptures also teach that this promised second coming will be doubted by many as it draws near.
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 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.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:1-7)
We have this sinful inclination in our own flesh, to forget that the Lord is coming in glory, and that this world, this universe as we know it will come to an end, it will be dissolved with fire.
A third thing to remember is that this second coming could happen at any moment. This is the doctrine of eminence. There is nothing left to be fulfilled, all is ready; at any time our Lord Jesus might return.
This teaching, by the way, undoes all of the false teachers and false prophets of the Lord’s return. You have probably all heard, at one time or another, of a person predicting the end. These false teachers are constantly picking the year or the month or even the day, even after our Lord Jesus has so plainly taught us, “”But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)
But look, we know that they are wrong because they are using history and news events to predict the Lord’s return as if Jesus is waiting for something to happen before He can come back. Do you see what I mean? If you have an interpretation of the Scriptures that requires that the temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt before Jesus comes, then that means that Jesus couldn’t come back today. If you have the kooky interpretation that the Antichrist has to put microchips is everyone’s foreheads before Jesus comes back, then Jesus could come back today, and this false teaching destroys the eminence of the Lord’s second coming.
This is one of the many problems with the whole “Left Behind” series of books and movies. These books have a theological system that requires all sorts of things to happen before Jesus comes back, and all of this stands against what our Lord Himself commanded, namely, that we watch and are on guard, expecting at any time His return in glory. “But stay awake at all times,” commanded our Lord Jesus at the end of our Gospel reading, “praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
If the Lord’s return is eminent, then the Lord’s church lives is constant readiness, we are awake. And what does it mean to be watching and awake? It doesn’t mean that we open our newspapers to the international new section each morning to see if the antichrist has been appointed, it means rather, that we pray.
There is something in today’s text that I have missed my whole life until this week. Our Lord Jesus gives us very specific instructions on being ready for His coming. He says that we should be “praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” I have to admit to you all that I had never prayed for that, that the Lord would give me strength to escape the things that are coming upon the earth, and that he would give my family strength to escape, and give you all strength to escape.
Our Lord has commanded that prayer, and I would commend it to you, that you add it to your prayers today and often, “Lord give us the strength to endure all the troubles coming upon the earth, and when You return in glory, grant that I and my family and my brothers and sisters in Christ would stand before You.”
And what is that strength? Is it a life filled with good works, great accomplishments? It is nothing other than faith, trust in the Lord’s promise. By faith in the blood of Jesus we are made strong to endure troubles. By faith all our sins are forgiven and we are given the strength of a good conscience. By faith we pass from death to life, from judgment to righteousness, for God’s enemies to His friends. By faith the Lord Jesus makes us holy, fit to stand before Him and see Him face to face.
And this, dear friends, bring us back to the original question, “Is the soon second coming of our Lord Jesus good news or bad news for you?” We can let Jesus answer the question for us.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27-28)
Your redemption draws near. It is not “your destruction draws near,” or “your judgment draws near.” Your Jesus draws near, your salvation draws near, your joy and eternal life draws near. The end of all temptation, sickness, fear and death draws near, and nearer and nearer ever instant. This, dear saints, is good news.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
+ + +
Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
Hope Lutheran Church | Aurora, CO