The Last Sunday of the Church Year at Hope, Jerseyville
“The End and Forever”
Sermon Text: Mark 13:24-37
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
I’m not sure my sermon last week did it justice. Jesus told His disciples that every stone of the temple would be torn down so that not one stone would be left standing upon another. I told you that as it was true of the temple, so, one day, it will be true of this church, that it will be torn down and not one stone or brick will be left standing upon another. In fact, one day, the Last Day, every brick and every stone of every building will be torn down so that not one will be left standing upon another, but even that degree of destruction is mild compared to the picture Jesus gives us of the Last Day.
He says, “In those days, after that tribulation, 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. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Every aspect of creation, not just Man’s creations, but all of God’s creation will be shaken and destroyed, the visible and the invisible, and all of the powers and forces which hold this fragile existence in place will be destroyed.
There will not be one aspect in all of God’s creation that can or will escape God’s coming Judgment, least of all you. In fact, you and all of mankind will be the center and focus of God’s Judgment at The End when, “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.” The Judgment is judgment upon all of creation, but especially and specifically of people, the living and the dead, especially and specifically you. You cannot and you will not escape, so hear the words and warning of Jesus to you and to all: “Stay awake.”
We do not know the day nor the hour that Judgment will come, so be ready, every day and every hour, for our Lord to return. “Be on guard, keep awake… lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.” Do not assume that you will have another chance, another opportunity, another year to do something that you missed. Do not assume that if you miss Christmas Eve service that there is always Christmas Day, because the hour may come and the end be upon us. Do not suppose that you can miss church this week because you can just make it up next Sunday, because next Sunday may not come. Do not live in your sin against God even for just another day longer, lest God come and catch you in your sin. Do not resolve to make amends and reconcile with your family after the New Year; do not determine to love your neighbor as yourself when the calendar year changes because the Master of the house could return and catch you in your grudge and your selfishness and what defense will you have? “Well God, you see, I was waiting for tomorrow.”
Be on guard. Keep awake. Do not put off until tomorrow what God has given you for today. Do not assume you will have another chance to repent and believe the Gospel. The time for repentance is now. The time for faith is now for the Lord your God is near, at the very gates even as we may hear next Sunday that the gates of Jerusalem are opened to Him as He comes riding on a colt to shouts of Hosanna, or we may not, for our Lord may come with His Judgment for you. May He not find you complacent and asleep. Stay awake, be ready, for it could be at any moment.
And in that hour when heaven and earth pass away, when all of God’s creation is shaken and destroyed, the one thing that will remain is His Word and His Judgment. For “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” His Word and Final Judgment of you is forever. It will never pass away. Your fate will be sealed with a word: guilty or not guilty, saint or sinner, heaven or hell, forever.
But who could live like this? Who can live every moment in fear of the coming Judgment? How can we be expected at every moment of every day to be ready? I certainly can’t and I certainly don’t. I don’t have to because I know the judgment that will come upon me. I know my Judgment and yours because it has already been spoken, and it is spoken time and time again. It was spoken by Pilate when he said of Jesus, “I find no guilt in this man… Nothing deserving death has been done by him… I have found in him no guilt.” And it was spoken by a Roman centurion who saw the death of Jesus and praised God saying, “Certainly this man was righteous!”
And it was and is spoken by God that I and you have been baptized with the Baptism of Jesus. Just as the Father said of Him, He has said to you, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” And again, even this day, Christ has spoken to you and said, “I forgive you of all of your sins,” and He will speak to you again in a few moments to say, “This is My body, this is My blood which is given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Depart in peace.”
Those judgments which have already and continue to be spoken to you shall not pass away. Even when all of heaven and earth passes away, they shall remain your ticket into eternal life. Hold on to these words and this Judgment for they are yours forever. They are for you, for your comfort, for every hour and every day. Stay awake and be on guard that you would not lose them or let them slip from your hands, your heart, or your mind. “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
For the Son of Man is coming and He is near and every eye shall see Him come, descending in clouds with great power and glory, and every knee shall bow and every soul shall be judged some to eternal life and some to eternal torment, and you shall be judged. You will hear this Judgment which shall not pass away but is spoken into eternity: “Come, My faithful servant, for you have been forgiven and you are mine. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” In the Name of Jesus. Amen.