Watching and Waiting for the Lord (Luke 21:29-36)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR

26th Sunday after Pentecost + November 13, 2016

Text: Luke 21:29-36

 

Trying to stay awake is hard sometimes.  Parents of newborns know what it’s like to have to run on fumes, not getting the sleep they need but still needing to press on with daily life.  Sometimes they’re caught falling asleep at work or worse on the road.  But it’s all they can do to stay awake.

 

But many of us can relate to burning the candle at both ends.  Sometimes it’s self-inflicted, other times it’s dropped in our lap.  Either way, there are many times that it’s a battle to stay conscious.

 

Jesus says here in the Gospel that we should “stay awake at all times.”  Visions of toothpicks propping open our eyes come to mind.  What could He possibly mean?

 

Our Lord is talking about staying awake spiritually.  What does it mean to stay spiritually awake?

  • Spiritually awake is what we are when we see today as the end times.
  • All the things that Jesus predicted about the destruction of Jerusalem foreshadow the end of the world. “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.”
  • Many recognize that the world is falling apart, but those who are spiritually awake are looking to the end that Jesus will return with the comfort, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (v. 28)
  • So, to be spiritually awake is to have a living, active faith.

 

What’s the opposite of this?

  • “Hearts weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of life.”
  • That’s when we live in denial that Jesus is going to return. Things have been going along the same way forever, so what could possibly change?  If he hasn’t come by now, He must not be coming, so I’ll just fall in line with those around me.[1]
  • The material, day-to-day living becomes greater than the spiritual. You get up one day and decide that it’s too much work to get to church, and during the week you’re just too busy to read the Bible.  Before you know it, what’s right in front of you has become as important as your faith once was.  These words of Jesus become a faded memory of a season in your life.
  • Yet as awake as you might be to the cares of life, you have fallen asleep to your spiritual condition, your need to live by every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord, your need for His grace and forgiveness, and that His return will spring upon us suddenly.

 

So, how do we “stay awake at all times, praying that [we] may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man”?

 

Our Lord uses the very troubles and trials of life to jolt us awake and keep us watchful for His return.  What we might think is an out-of-control mess is actually the very instrument God uses to strengthen and confirm our faith.

 

So often, we want things to be easy and smooth.  It’s just one thing after another, and all we want is to have some time of rest when things aren’t crazy.  Sorry to say, but it’s not God’s will for things to be carefree.  That’s because He knows when things are carefree, we become complacent.  We dream of a time free from crisis and tribulation, but that’s actually dreaming of a time without dependence on God, taking care of things for ourselves.

 

It’s in those very times of struggle that we are watchful and reliant on Him.

 

But Lord! Let me catch a snooze!  I’m tired!  I’m worn out from all that you’ve put me through!  This is not yet a faithful approach, because it’s relying on our own strength.  This is the spiritual equivalent to energy drinks, doing all we can to survive.  But just like energy drinks run your body ragged, so does trying to face the trials of life without relying on your God.

 

If you want to “stay awake at all times” through struggles in your life and upset in the world, you really do need a rest, but not in the form of a nap.  You need a Sabbath rest.  “Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”[2]  You need the renewal that only God can give.  You can’t find it in a vacation or out in the woods.  A Sabbath rest only comes through the Word of God.

 

So, come and confess your sins and have them taken off your shoulders and laid on Jesus’.  Come and have your spirit refreshed by the One who created you and supports you through your whole life.  Come in prayer and give your burdens and your praises to the God who works all things for good for the sake of His elect.[3]  Come and take the Body and Blood of the God who strengthens you in body and soul in the one true faith unto life everlasting.

 

Instead of missing church because life is crazy, run here all the more because you need to stop all that you’re doing and let God do what He does.  That is where you will find the energy to face every trial, to endure every sign of the end times.

 

Then, when the Lord comes suddenly, it won’t be like a trap or a terrible surprise.  It will be a joy because this is what we have been longing, hoping, praying for.  Amen.

[1] 2 Peter 3:3-10

[2] Matthew 11:28

[3] Romans 8:28-30

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR

26th Sunday after Pentecost + November 13, 2016

Text: Luke 21:29-36

 

Trying to stay awake is hard sometimes.  Parents of newborns know what it’s like to have to run on fumes, not getting the sleep they need but still needing to press on with daily life.  Sometimes they’re caught falling asleep at work or worse on the road.  But it’s all they can do to stay awake.

 

But many of us can relate to burning the candle at both ends.  Sometimes it’s self-inflicted, other times it’s dropped in our lap.  Either way, there are many times that it’s a battle to stay conscious.

 

Jesus says here in the Gospel that we should “stay awake at all times.”  Visions of toothpicks propping open our eyes come to mind.  What could He possibly mean?

 

Our Lord is talking about staying awake spiritually.  What does it mean to stay spiritually awake?

  • Spiritually awake is what we are when we see today as the end times.
  • All the things that Jesus predicted about the destruction of Jerusalem foreshadow the end of the world. “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.”
  • Many recognize that the world is falling apart, but those who are spiritually awake are looking to the end that Jesus will return with the comfort, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (v. 28)
  • So, to be spiritually awake is to have a living, active faith.

 

What’s the opposite of this?

  • “Hearts weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of life.”
  • That’s when we live in denial that Jesus is going to return. Things have been going along the same way forever, so what could possibly change?  If he hasn’t come by now, He must not be coming, so I’ll just fall in line with those around me.[1]
  • The material, day-to-day living becomes greater than the spiritual. You get up one day and decide that it’s too much work to get to church, and during the week you’re just too busy to read the Bible.  Before you know it, what’s right in front of you has become as important as your faith once was.  These words of Jesus become a faded memory of a season in your life.
  • Yet as awake as you might be to the cares of life, you have fallen asleep to your spiritual condition, your need to live by every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord, your need for His grace and forgiveness, and that His return will spring upon us suddenly.

 

So, how do we “stay awake at all times, praying that [we] may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man”?

 

Our Lord uses the very troubles and trials of life to jolt us awake and keep us watchful for His return.  What we might think is an out-of-control mess is actually the very instrument God uses to strengthen and confirm our faith.

 

So often, we want things to be easy and smooth.  It’s just one thing after another, and all we want is to have some time of rest when things aren’t crazy.  Sorry to say, but it’s not God’s will for things to be carefree.  That’s because He knows when things are carefree, we become complacent.  We dream of a time free from crisis and tribulation, but that’s actually dreaming of a time without dependence on God, taking care of things for ourselves.

 

It’s in those very times of struggle that we are watchful and reliant on Him.

 

But Lord! Let me catch a snooze!  I’m tired!  I’m worn out from all that you’ve put me through!  This is not yet a faithful approach, because it’s relying on our own strength.  This is the spiritual equivalent to energy drinks, doing all we can to survive.  But just like energy drinks run your body ragged, so does trying to face the trials of life without relying on your God.

 

If you want to “stay awake at all times” through struggles in your life and upset in the world, you really do need a rest, but not in the form of a nap.  You need a Sabbath rest.  “Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”[2]  You need the renewal that only God can give.  You can’t find it in a vacation or out in the woods.  A Sabbath rest only comes through the Word of God.

 

So, come and confess your sins and have them taken off your shoulders and laid on Jesus’.  Come and have your spirit refreshed by the One who created you and supports you through your whole life.  Come in prayer and give your burdens and your praises to the God who works all things for good for the sake of His elect.[3]  Come and take the Body and Blood of the God who strengthens you in body and soul in the one true faith unto life everlasting.

 

Instead of missing church because life is crazy, run here all the more because you need to stop all that you’re doing and let God do what He does.  That is where you will find the energy to face every trial, to endure every sign of the end times.

 

Then, when the Lord comes suddenly, it won’t be like a trap or a terrible surprise.  It will be a joy because this is what we have been longing, hoping, praying for.  Amen.

[1] 2 Peter 3:3-10

[2] Matthew 11:28

[3] Romans 8:28-30

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