Second Sunday in Advent, December 9th, Year of Our + Lord 2012
St. John and Trinity Lutheran Churches, Sidney and Fairview, MT
The Son of Man Comes in a Cloud With Power and Great Glory - Luke 21:25-36
Vicar Jason Toombs
Every time there is a natural disaster there are many street corner preachers who come out of the woodworks to preach a message of “Turn or Burn!” They see these things as signs of the end times and declare that the end is near and Jesus will return soon. Jesus did promise that there would be signs in the heavens that pointed to His return, “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world.” But don’t be overly alarmed at the street corner preachers because the signs of the end times have been happening ever since Jesus ascended into heaven after His death, burial, and resurrection. They have happened in each generation since He returned to heaven. You needn’t worry over this sign or that sign, just know He has promised that He will come again. Be on the watch continually lest you be caught unaware.
Advent is the time of the year when we look backward and forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior. God promised to send a forerunner, to prepare the way of the Savior, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Jesus tells us John the Baptist is the prophet Elijah, proclaiming in the wilderness that the greater one, the one to redeem all Israel, was coming into the world.
We look back, and we look ahead. During Advent, we also look forward to the second coming of the Son of Man when the whole earth will see Him coming in a cloud with power and great glory. This is the message for today. This isn’t a message of “Jesus is coming, look busy.” No, the scripture declare a promise: your redemption is drawing near. It points to Jesus Christ as the one who is constantly coming to you to forgive your sins, because He knows that you need Him. You need Him for all the times that you struggle. You need Him for all the times when you’ve given into temptation. You need Him more than anything in this world. You need the one who created this world, sustains His creation, and redeemed it. You need the Son of Man who comes in a cloud with power and great glory.
Jesus says, “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life.” You are to be on the watch over the things that you do in this life. You are not to give into the depravities of the heart: lust, coveting, drunkenness, and all the other cares of this world. You have been set apart in your baptism and made holy by the death of Christ. You are constantly being made holy by the waters of baptism, a daily dying and rising to new life and living in that blessedness. Jesus comes to set you free from this world. You are no longer bound to the powers of this world, you are not a slave to your sinful desires, you are set free. You have been freed from your sins in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You are free to flee to Christ and abide in Him and He in you.
You have been set free from the world. But you still live in it. You still live in the world where the nations are distressed in wars and rumors of wars. In recent weeks we saw Israel and Hamas launching missiles for eight days and then a ceasefire was agreed upon. Wars and rumors of wars. It is no different in the home where parents fight with each other, kids disobey their parents, spend too much time playing games and not enough on homework. Then, the family calls a ceasefire and gets themselves all dolled up for the perfect Christmas photo. Wars and rumors of wars.
The nations are also subjected to the roaring of the sea and the waves. This week Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines leaving hundreds dead. The sea is roaring and the waves are crashing and God is still in control. The sea and the waves are scary things as many people are afraid of drowning but God is in control of them. The sea, the rivers, and all water obeys when God speaks to it. God commanded Moses to lift up his staff and stretch out his hands and the Red Sea parted. Joshua was given the command to take the ark of the covenant of the Lord into the Jordan and the waters parted. And we can’t forget about Jesus having power over the waters of this earth. The disciples followed Jesus into the boat and He slept in the stern. The disciples, fearful of the roaring of the sea and the waves, woke Jesus and He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” The wind ceased and the sea was calm. The sea roars, the waves crash, but God’s word endures forever.
Jesus says that the last day will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. The last day is coming but you know not when. But you do have the promise of Jesus that He will give us strength and be with us to guide and protect us. He says that you are to stay awake and pray that you have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place. He promises to bring you salvation, to bring you to Himself where you will see the full joy of heaven. He strengthens and encourages you in this life and He will be your light and you joy in the life to come. For He has taken your troubles, your struggles, onto His own shoulders and gives you His easy to bear yoke in exchange. He died for you and gives you His life. His yoke is the life that you now live to God. You are freed from this world, free to live in God’s loving embrace.
You stand before the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. You stand before Him in His blessedness, His righteousness, His glory. You have put off the sinful flesh and been given His robe of righteousness. You have put on Christ in the waters of your baptism. You have been born again, born from above, and claimed a child of God. God calls you son or daughter and you call Him Father. He has cleaned you, He has nurtured you, He has given you every good thing and welcomes you into heaven. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. You will go leaping into heaven as you are no longer burdened by the cares of this life. You will stand before the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.
Straighten up and raise your heads. You need no longer worry about the cares of this life. You have died to this world and been raised with Christ. Christ has straightened you up and raised your head. You no longer look at your sins, you see Jesus Christ the crucified, the one who took your sins from you and put them on Himself and died in your stead. Your gaze is fixed on the cross because there the Lord of life died for you. You see the Babe of Bethlehem, the one born in a manger. You see the child in the temple astonishing the religious leaders. You see the baptized Lord who was tempted and never gave in to temptation. You see the betrayed Rabbi. You see your bloodied and broken Savior. You see the great and awesome day when the Lord died. You see your risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You see God in the flesh. You see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. You see the love of God to you.
You see all of this in the cross. And God sees you covered in Christ’s blood. You have been washed clean and given a new robe, a robe that is without spot or blemish. Take comfort and rest in the unfailing love of God. Rest in the promises of Jesus, for His words will never pass away. Amen.