BCP Advent 2 Luke 21:25-33
Today is the second Sunday in Advent. Advent means 'coming', and today's reading reminds us that we are to be ready for the second coming of Jesus.
Why should we be ready ?
A Bishop was staying at a hotel. A nervous young bellboy was told to wake him up with the words, 'My Lord, it's the lad. It's time to get up !'
As he climbed the stairs the petrified boy kept repeating the words. He knocked, went into the room with the words, 'My lad, it's the Lord, your time is up !'
One day everyone will have to face Jesus. We know this because Jesus has said so. 32: Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.33: Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. When Jesus said This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled, this can have two meanings that can both be true. One in the near future, the other yet to come.
The more immediate meaning is that some of Jesus' words would find their fulfilment within the lifetime of some of his listeners. Jesus had talked about the destruction of Jerusalem after a siege in verses 20-24.
In AD 70, some forty years later, the Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem because of a rebellion by some of the Jews. They reduced the city, and it's temple to rubble, killing everyone inside. Christians did not perish in this bloodbath because they knew of Jesus warning, and left before the Romans broke into Jerusalem. They knew of Jesus teaching, acted upon it, and escaped destruction.
The future meaning of Jesus' words is that 'this generation' refers to the Jewish nation, and this will not pass away until they have had the time to turn to Jesus before his second coming. There is a chance for them to know Jesus words, act upon them and escape eternal destruction.
When Jesus does return this will affect everyone. When Jesus comes again he will judge the living and the dead, as we proclaim in the Creed. No-one will be able to escape. For those who have not accepted Jesus as their saviour and Lord this will result in separation from God forever.
But for believers Jesus says, your redemption draweth nigh.
The word redemption involves the paying of a price to set someone free. Jesus has already done this on the cross, and, since then has set many free from the slavery of sin. This reference to redemption is referring to the final saving act of Jesus, the gathering up of the saints to be with God forever in heaven. Then there will be no more sin, sickness, suffering, death or mourning but a perfect life lived in the presence of God and our fellow saints. So, whilst many may faint from terror, verse 26, believers can have a confident hope of a new life with God in glory.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
As God's people we are called to rely upon the words of Jesus. They are words of authority and words of eternity. They are as true today as they were when they were first uttered nearly 2000 years ago. The wonderful, substantial Jewish temple that the disciples admired is gone. The things around us, this church, our homes, cars, possessions will be nothing in eternity. Yet, Jesus words will endure. Those who rely on his promises will be with him forever. We know that we can trust Jesus' promises because they have all come true but for this one.
Why should we be ready ? and How should we be ready ?
By being observant. We read this in verses 28, and 34-36.
Jesus said in verse 28, 28: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Rather than being downcast and fearful we should be looking around, observant, looking forward to the establishment of God's kingdom in all it's fullness.
Why should we be ready ? How should we be ready ? and...
What should we be looking for ?
How do you know when summer is near ? Well, it is difficult to tell in this country, especially after the wet year we have just had ! One way is to look at a calendar. But in Jesus' day people could tell if summer was approaching by the signs of nature. trees sprouted leaves, and it would have got a lot warmer. Observation was involved in deciding that summer was coming. Jesus told his followers to always be on the watch in verse 36. What they are to watch for is to be found in verses 25-27, 25: And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26: Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27: And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
We should be aware of the signs. But we should also watch out that we do not glibly accept claims that Jesus is soon to return. The Jehovah's Witnesses are one movement who have made false predictions about the second coming. Some Christians say that, what is happening in the world today are fulfilling these words of Jesus and he will return soon.
I am not saying that Jesus will not return soon, but we are not seeing the widespread, catastrophic events that Jesus talked of at the moment. We need to be aware that we live in a world that has rejected God and there will be wars because of man's hostility to man. There will be natural disasters because we live in a world that is uneasy with it's creator because of sin. Also, we are living in a telecommunications culture where we can see events happening live throughout the world, whereas one hundred years ago people could be unaware of what was happening in the next village !
Mark 13:32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come."
We don't know when Jesus will return, so we are to be alert. At the same time we are to look forward to this day because our redemption will be even nearer. PRAY