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Mark 13.14 thru 31 Come Lord Jesus

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Mark Airey

11/19/06

Second-Last Sunday

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

Text:  Mark 13:14-31

Focus:  The tribulation is here and Jesus will return in His glory and take us with Him to live with Him forever.

Function/Goal:  That the hearers be comforted in the hope of Jesus’ coming.

Structure:  Epic Form

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wow, tribulation, end times this is the kind of stuff that has captured the thoughts and minds of the Christian community and even the secular community these days.  We have seen popular books such as Hal Lindsey’s, “The Late Great Planet Earth”, and Tim Lahay’s “Left Behind” series.  You hear words like “rapture” and “millennialism” bandied about.   People may have even asked you whether you are “mid-trib” or “pre-trib” in your understanding of the tribulation and when He is coming……..

“Come, Lord Jesus!”  This is the most basic prayer of the church…This is how the early church fathers saw it and this is still the way we should see it today.  He’s coming, we don’t know when, but we should just “be ready”.  So, how do we know this and what does this mean for you and I?...

Have you ever sat and waited for something for what seemed to be a long time?  Have you ever sat and waited for a bus…in the rain!  I have…this is something that can really drag on.  One can get very cold especially in the winter time.  I know, I know, you’re saying “he’s from California, how cold can it be?”  Well, believe me it was cold for a Californian with the moist air coming off of the ocean in the winter time…so just bear with me even if you think I’m a wimp.  Anyway, I can remember playing a game to pass the time…As I waited I would look down the street to see if I could recognize the bus as far down the street as possible.  Maybe you’ve waited for a certain numbered bus for your route before, as I have…you see the bus coming down the street, but you can’t quite make out the number.  It’s coming but is it yours?  It comes closer and closer, and just as you recognize the number…before you know it, you realize it’s not your bus…and it blows by, pushing the dust, or rain puddles, or even just stirring the cold air up from the street….Waiting is no fun, especially when there are false alarms to confuse you, but sometimes it’s what we have to do.  And when the right bus gets to my stop, it’s not just going to stay at that stop…it’s going to take me home…to warmth…a home cooked meal…and loving parents.  This is worth waiting for!

In our text this evening we see Jesus helping the disciples to understand what is important about the end of the age.  Listen closely to how this occurs and what is important about it.  He begins telling them about all of this because the disciples have expressed to him how they are impressed by the “massive stones” and “magnificent buildings” of the temple.  Through what Jesus tells them in response, this temple of stone is clearly not what is important.  It is not what’s the “main thing” here.  What Jesus is telling his disciples is that it is no longer the physical building (the temple) that is important, but the focus of Christian hope should be on Jesus Himself and His coming again.  In this, the longest of Jesus’ discourses in Mark, He lays out for the disciples a vision of balance and perspective.  He does not focus on the resurrection but on His return.  According to this text, this is the more important ground for Christian confidence.  The disciples are to look beyond their present suffering to their reunion with Jesus…Suffering, if the disciples are to follow Jesus, is the way to glory!  But this is to be balanced by the warnings not to be deceived by “false prophets” and even “false Christ’s”.  Appearances will be deceiving.  God is still in control of history, and the righteous will ultimately triumph but there will be times that are hard and we are to focus on the person of Jesus Christ during these times.

There is already plenty of evidence of sin and tribulation in the world today, to be sure. But let us not get caught up in the temptation to dwell on the hardship, or start trying to figure out when he is coming so we can get out of this mess.  This is an unfortunate error of some within our community.  We are called to be ready.  We are even called to help others to be ready.  He tells us in the very next passages that we are to “be on guard!”  And that we are to “be alert” as though we were “servants” waiting for our master to come home.  We are left “in charge”, “each with his assigned task”.  Not to try to guess when He is coming back but to “be alert” because “no one knows the day or hour”.  This is our calling!

The parable of the fig tree that is included in this text helps us to understand where he is going with this.  He invites us to see a bright side amongst this chilling description of the end times.  It gives us a ray of light in this ominous description of tribulation, calamities, and the end of the universe as we know it.  The “tender twigs” and “new leaves” tell us the summer is near…and summer is a pleasant season.  This is how these signs of the end times, even though they are not pleasant in themselves, are actually assuring us of something pleasant that is in store for us.  He tells us about this when He tells us, “…we will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” and that “He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”  This isn’t something we will not recognize or understand.  This is not a “rapture” of people silently with no explanation.  He will come “from the clouds” “for all to see” with “trumpets” and “every knee shall bow!” …We have this to look forward to…no matter how hard the persecution might get.  No matter how bad it gets here on earth, we know that we will be joining Him in His heavenly home.

The further good news is that His Kingdom has already arrived here on earth!  It is here right now.  He has not yet come this second time, but His kingdom has already arrived.  For us who know Him, there is hope and solace!  We not only have His kingdom here with us and can sample it even now when we come together in worship and commune together in the Lord’s Supper, but we have the hope of eternal life with our Savior.  Along with the hope of His return, He also gives us the assurance that He is the head of the invisible kingdom here on earth in His children’s hearts.  This is the servanthood that we are to display, we are part of this invisible kingdom and it is evidenced through the good works that we do through His Spirit.  This is not His full kingdom…that is to come when He comes again.

Yet this hope and assurance is what helps us to go on in a world that is in a continuous tribulation.  There are “wars and rumors of wars”. There are “nations rising against nation.”  There have even been “false Christ’s” in our time.  But during this time of tribulation we are not to fear and turn inward and wonder whether we have done enough so that we will not to be “left behind” but to have the hope that is in Jesus.  Jesus invites us to turn outward to His Word, to Baptism, to His Supper, and to His people.  In His word we find His assurance that this salvation cannot be taken away from us when He says, “no one can snatch them out of my hand”.  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him”.  His bus is coming and He has promised that He will pick us up and there will be seating for all who know Him… This bus is not just stopping and sitting at the bus stop either…this bus is taking us home…to be with our loving Savior…to the feast with all of the saints…so watch…be alert…And we will pray together “Come, Lord Jesus…come”

And now may that peace which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds to life everlasting.  Amen.

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