“Be on guard, be alert! You do not know when that time will come… keep watch… What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” (Mark 13:33, 35, 37)
Do you have earthquake insurance? We’ve been hearing about the earthquakes in Oklahoma and even in Kansas – the one on November 12th registered 4.8 – I heard we had another one this Saturday, which registered 4.1! How “watchful” and “ready” are you for a large earthquake?
Do you have a weather alert radio? What about health insurance / car insurance / house insurance
Do you have smoke and fire detectors…maybe also CO2 detectors in your home?
Do you wear a seat belt when you are in a car? What about an alarm system for your home and business?
There are many ways that we are “watchful and ready” for things in this life – that we hope and pray will never happen. But what about our eternal life – our spiritual life with Jesus – that we KNOW WILL HAPPEN? (Why is it that so many in our world do so much about this temporary physical world and so little with the spiritual, eternal world?)
This weekend we begin the church season of Advent with the three-fold reminder that Jesus came (Christmas), He comes (Word & Sacraments), and He is coming again (as Savior or Judge).
We hear this Advent message as Jesus says: “It is like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back… If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.” (v.34-35)
“Sleeping” here doesn’t just mean physical sleep, (although Jesus said to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray that you do not fall into temptation, the spirit is willing but the body is weak.” And three times Jesus found His disciples sleeping!) In this parable, “sleep” refers to the very common indifference to the orders of the master; a flippant attitude acting as if we have the right to do whatever we want, regardless of what God says; living according to the sinful flesh, with no regard or obedience / even defiant to God’s Word and will.
This Law message of our text speaks to those today who are living according to their sinful nature; in open, unrepentant sin. This is a very serious matter. In Hebrews 10, God’s Word warns: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God… It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
What Good News – “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:17) Jesus knows us so well! Jesus knows our weakness – how “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things.” (Mark 4:19) become the focus of our lives.
We Need God’s constant triple Advent reminders:
- Jesus CAME – we celebrate this at Christmas, as we sing: “Once He came in blessing, All our sins redressing, Came in likeness lowly, Son of God most holy; Bore the cross to save us, Hope and freedom gave us.”
- Jesus COMES – Jesus knows our sinful nature and constant failures and so He graciously provides His renewing forgiveness by the Holy Spirit who gives us New Life through the daily reading and hearing of His Word; the daily contrition and repentance on account of His grace through our Baptism and the strengthening and keeping us in the true faith through regularly receiving Jesus body and blood in Holy Communion. “Still He comes within us; Still His voice would win us, From the sins that hurt us; Would to truth convert us, From our foolish error, Ere He comes in terror.;” and
- Jesus IS COMING AGAIN (the very necessary reminder of how near Judgment Day is – it might be today – are we ready?) Yes, we can be ready because He COMES to us daily (Word and Sacraments); we Eagerly Await Jesus Coming Again – not to punish us for our sins (He already took the full punishment for us) but in fulfillment of His promise, “(after) I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3)
With the hymn writer we sing: “Those who then are loyal (kept faithful by God’s grace) Find a welcome royal. Come, then, O Lord Jesus, From our sins release us; Let us here confess You, Till in heaven we bless You.”
Our “watchful and waiting” for Jesus’ second coming is totally different from our getting ready for Christmas. Some people literally wear themselves out rushing here and there. But God grants peace and joy to His children for He has already done all of the preparations. The apostle Paul writes: “I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way… Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, (through the regular use of His Means of Grace – Word and Sacraments) so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 1:4, 7-9)
Remaining “watchful and waiting” with you; joyfully and eagerly expecting Jesus’ second coming! “Amen, come Lord Jesus!”