The Last Sunday of the Church Year (B)
“Open Your Eyes”
November 25, 2018
Sermon Text: Isaiah 51:4-6, Mark 13:24-37
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ,
It may seem odd, but nevertheless true. We learn in Holy Scripture to use our senses. Indeed, the Lord our God teaches us to engage them all, and especially our ability to hear and see, all for the purpose of making us aware of the truth… aware of reality… that which is and what will soon be.
Furthermore, in His divine teaching, God clearly explains that there is physical hearing and seeing… and then there is spiritual hearing and seeing. The latter being only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
I mention all of this because hearing and seeing… and the knowledge, the insight that comes from the same… is so critical to our understanding of the end times… so critical in our preparation for the last things and the last day.
Through His prophet Isaiah, the Lord our God declares, “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.” (Isaiah 51: 4-5)
In other words, “Listen up my people. Soon things will be set right, made right again. Soon sin and all lawlessness… all that is evil, perverted, sick and wicked will be dealt with… done with… once and for all… ended for good.”
God’s righteousness draws near… when all will be right and just, holy and perfect… divine once again. His salvation has indeed gone out… that which Christ won for us and all people on the cross at Calvary. Let those who have ears to hear… hear.
And then the Lord adjures us to use our sense of sight as He declares, “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. (Isaiah 51: 6)
A common expression that is used to summarize what has happened to a person in the wake of some major event is to say that his or her “world was rocked.”
No more so, my friends, than in what is coming and what we shall see with our own eyes. Not only this world being rocked, but the heavens themselves. It is all going to end. It is all going to be purified, sanctified, made perfect once again. It will be quite the sight. What a sight!
In His second epistle, the Apostle Peter gives us further insight into all that is about to take place noting that:
“The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:10-13)
We, dear friends, are so waiting… so longing for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. We are looking forward to paradise restored and us there living in it solely by a living faith in Jesus Christ. It is sure. All of this is certain. It will come. It will be. It will have no end. No end to our joy, our peace, our tranquility… all won for us by our dear Savior.
Look again at the very last part of the Isaiah text where the Lord holds up for us the beautiful fact that His “salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.”
Make no mistake about it. He is referring to us and all the faithful here. We are His “righteousness” … His righteous ones… made so in the waters of Holy Baptism. We are His beloved children, made pure and clean in the precious blood of Jesus Christ. And of all that is to come… all that will soon be upon us… all that will soon be ours… we “will never be dismayed.” On the contrary, we will be overjoyed, overwhelmed with what is ours… overwhelmed by what has been graciously given to us by our loving Father.
In no way will we be dismayed in what awaits us and all the faithful in heaven for all eternity. We are not worried or the least bit frightened over what is soon to come. It will be quite a sight and thanks be to God that we have spiritual eyes to properly take it in… this amazing cataclysmic event.
How could we ever be concerned even though tribulation, for a little while, lies ahead… even though, as our Lord Himself declares in our Gospel lesson “how the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (Mark 13:24-25)
Even though we see these things take place… actually happen… look what else Christ tells us will happen… namely, that we will surely see Him in all of His glory… in all of His magnificence and splendor… He … Himself… and no other. We “will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” (Mark 13:26)
This is what will soon happen… what will soon take place… His angels… God’s angels shall gather us up from around the world… and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Take heart in all of this, dear friends. Now and in all of the days remaining. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Open Your Eyes” 11/25/18 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL