Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday Lent 4 - Mark 13

    Nature is doing its annual job of pointing to that Day when our Master will come “in clouds with great glory.” For when Jesus talks about the end, He does not mention the Fall or Winter when things are dead, but the Springtime.  "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that [the Son of Man] is near, at the very gates” (Mark 13:28-29).  The buds and blossoms on the trees signal Spring has arrived and Summer is near.  Likewise, the sun, moon and stars going dark, and all the other earth-shattering signs Jesus mentions elsewhere are signs that the eternal summer of God is about to come upon the world.  And not one of our miserably humid scorching summer days either – but the nice summer days when you can enjoy life without breaking a sweat.  Rather than dreading doomsday, God wants His people to look with eager expectation for the coming of His Kingdom and its eternal joy.  For the Christian, the End does not mean everything is over and done with, but that the time of waiting is over.
    Thoughts about Judgment Day expose how weak we are as Christians.  We have divided loyalties.  Part of us cannot wait for the joy of Christ’s return.  And part of us wants to put it off.  How can we survive the Judgment?  What help is there for our horridly divided hearts that both want to leave this world to be in Paradise and also are afraid of having to say good-bye to this world?
    Jesus tells us our only hope to survive is in His Words.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31).   His Words tell us the universe will fall to pieces – and for that matter, our own little worlds will fall apart as well.  Yet when such things such as death and disasters, decay and divorce happen, Christ’s people have hope – the sure and certain hope that Jesus is near, at the very gates.  Because that is what His Word promises.  As everything is falling apart, Jesus wants you to get a whiff of the Springtime in the air.  Know that the Resurrection Summer is about to break in and change everything in God’s creation. 
    It was Holy Week when Jesus told us of the sun and moon going dark and the stars falling from the sky.  Later that week, on Good Friday, these heavenly lights would give a sneak preview of that Day.  Darkness covered the land for three hours as the Creator struggled with hell on a cross.  Lift up your eyes to see the Son of Man and Son of God lifted up on a pole, dying with your sin and your shame and your death and your hell.
    This Master who once was dead, but now lives and reigns, is the One who comes.  Not just at the end of time, but even now.  In His Body and Blood.  Though today He is hidden in bread and wine, on that Day He will be revealed for all the world to see.  Some will be ready, others not.  How you prepare for the coming of the Lord in Communion is similar to how you prepare of the coming of the Lord at the End.  Listen to Scripture.  Repent of sin and desire to be done with it.  Desire to forgive and be forgiven.  Do not take Christ’s promises and blessings for granted.  Trust that no matter what you do or fail to do, the Holy Spirit has made you worthy and well prepared for Christ’s coming as you believe in Christ’s words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”     

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