5While some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, [Jesus] said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your lives.
20“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25“And 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, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:5-36)
In the Apostles’ Creed, Christians everywhere confess that Jesus Christ “will come to judge the living and the dead.” This confession is true because so say the Holy Scriptures, as heard in today’s Gospel reading. The Lord Jesus will one day return, not in humility, but in glory.
He who “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross…God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11, NKJ)
Christ’s Coming—Good News for Christians, Fearful Day for all others
As we approach the end of this church year, which concludes next Sunday, news of Christ’s second Advent—His Second Coming—is good news indeed for all who long to be without sin, for all who desire God’s mercy in Jesus.
But for all others, for those without Christ, the day of Christ’s return will not be a welcome day. It will be a day of fear and dread. It will be a day of fear and dread because for those who do not have Christ, to those who ignore His calling now to repent and believe the Gospel, they will be called to account for their sins. For them, Christ’s return is not for salvation. It is for their judgment.
But for the Christian, for the one who calls upon the Name of the Lord, who seeks God’s favor through the obedience of His Son, Christ comes to bring them to Himself, to take home all who belong to Him.
“The day is surely drawing near” (LSB 508). We know not when. Our Lord therefore says “Watch,” “Stay awake,” “Do not be weighed down with anxiety and the cares of this world” (Luke 21:34).
The Lord’s Return-The when we don’t know; That He is we Do
When it comes to our Lord’s His Second Coming, we know that He’s coming, we just don’t know when. Some speculate that we have plenty of time. After all, things have been going as they have been.
But in the words of Peter, “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation”” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
To those who hold such ideas, Peter says, “This they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:5-15).
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…” He “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Signs of Jesus’ Coming
From today’s Gospel text, Jesus reveals that the time is near. He tells us that there will be false prophets and teachers, they who would deceive from the truth (Luke 21:8). There will be wars, and nations fighting against nations. There will be disasters such as earthquakes, and famines, and plagues. There will be persecutions and betrayals and even martyrdom for the name of Christ.
All of these things that Jesus told His disciples, He told them that they might know that the end is near, and it is nearer than before.
Reason for hope—Your Redemption is drawing near
Nevertheless, instead of worrying and becoming anxious, instead of despairing over what is in the world and the church today, instead of losing heart and giving in and giving up, Jesus says “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
For the Christian, and for the Christian only, the increasing days of trouble both inside and outside the church are not reason to lose hope. Christ continues to be her head. Jesus gives nothing but the sure expectation of life everlasting to all who wait on Him!
The Lord will judge your oppressors with righteous judgment. He will deliver you from the evil foe. Indeed, He already has. Sin and death no longer have their stronghold over you. God the Father sent His Son to fulfill and satisfy God’s will for you on the cross by willingly shedding His precious blood. His blood cleanses you of all your sin.
“If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:1-2, NKJ).
Sins Forgiven—Eternal Salvation
Now—in Christ–your debt of sin no longer remains. You have no reason to fear the coming of the Lord. You have reason to rejoice! The judgment of God was met on Jesus, all of it, and none remains.
Straighten up and raise your heads! The coming of the Lord Jesus means your redemption. The coming of the Lord Jesus is your salvation.
Don’t Despair—Take Courage
Do not Despair! Take courage! Be of good cheer (Matthew 9:2)!
In Jesus you have peace with God and need not fear Christ’s return at all.
Therefore, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory”(Colossians 3:2-4).
Believe His Word and His promise! Trust in the Lord! Seek first His Kingdom, His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and watch; watch and stay awake, that you be ready for the coming of Your Lord.
Continue to hear His Word. Continue to partake of the Sacrament, the very body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, by which you are ready for Lord’s appearance.
Jesus comes to deliver you from this veil of tears. Your redemption is near. Rejoice and be glad! You are Christ’s, and He is yours! Amen.