Sunday, November 19, 2017

Meditation: Trinity 26 - 2017

Note: This meditation was delivered by Deacon Richard Iverson at Salem Lutheran Church

19 November 2017

Text: Dan 7:9-14, 2 Pet 3:3-14, Matt 25:31-46

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

In our Old Testament reading, the prophet Daniel has a vision of heaven.  He meets God the Father, whom he calls “the Ancient of days.”  His white hair is a symbol of wisdom.  He is so ancient that He is eternal.  He is surrounded by fire, and tens of thousands worship Him.  He is the judge, and He opens the books of the deeds of men.

Evil is destroyed with fire, and evil’s dominion is taken away.  And then comes another heroic figure: the Son of Man, a title that Jesus claimed for Himself.  This is the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is given dominion and glory and a kingdom by the Father.  And His kingdom has no border.  It consists of all “peoples, nations, and languages” who serve Him.

His kingdom is everlasting.  It will not pass away.  It shall never be destroyed.

In our Epistle reading, St. Peter writes about what things will be like as the final judgment of the Ancient of Days and the dominion of the Son of God are coming.

He says that in the “last days” there will be “scoffers.”  People will mock Christians.  They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming?”  They think that everything will just continue as it has always been.  They think that evil will continue to have its way.  But they are wrong. 

They are willfully ignorant, they “deliberately overlook” the fact that God created the universe just as the Book of Genesis reveals.  They laugh at people for believing in creation.  They mock the idea that God judged the world with water in the flood.  But God will judge the world with fire. 

And while it seems that Jesus is taking His time in returning, God doesn’t treat time the way we do.  A thousand years is nothing to God.  It’s actually an act of mercy that God is taking His time.  For He is giving the wicked time to repent.  Let us pray they do!  For when He returns like a thief in the night, it will be too late to repent.

Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us of these things as well in our Gospel reading.  In the judgment, the sheep will be separated from the goats, the good from the evil.  We have so many opportunities to do good works in this life, just as we have many opportunities to sin. 

This is why our Lord came to earth to rescue us, to die on the cross to forgive us, to rise from the dead that we may live new lives of good works: not to earn salvation, but to thank God for His mercy and serve our neighbor.

If we see people who are hungry and thirsty, alienated and in need of clothes, sick and imprisoned, and we show them love – then God is working through us, His redeemed people, to show mercy to those in need. 

But if we see people who are hungry and thirsty, alienated and in need of clothes, sick and imprisoned, and we do not show them love – then we are demonstrating that we are lacking in God’s grace. 

We do well, brothers and sisters, to examine our lives, to repent of our sins, to pray the Lord to send His Holy Spirit to us, to participate in Word and Sacrament, and to hear the Gospel, so that we might be continually transformed from darkness to light, from sinner to saint, from evil to righteous.  We cannot do this on our own, but we must pray that the Son of Man would use His dominion to instill faith in us.  And true faith produces true good works, so naturally, that we don’t even think about it. 

Dear friends, we are in the Last Days.  The Lord may return at any time.  Let us repent of our sins.  Let us plead for His mercy.  Let us joyfully serve our neighbors.  Because when we were hungry and thirsty for righteousness, when we were alienated from God and naked in our shame, when we were made sick through sin and imprisoned by death and the devil – Jesus gave us the food and drink of the Sacrament, welcomed us to the kingdom, clothed us with His righteousness, visited us with His mercy, and came to us in prison to set us free. 

Indeed, His kingdom is everlasting.  It will not pass away.  It shall never be destroyed.  It is yours by the blood of the Son of Man, by His cross.  And you are His sheep!  Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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