24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28 “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. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
If you look around at everything happening in the world, it is easy to despair. Just think of the ride you have gone on this year watching the news: from Ebola; to Ferguson, Missouri; Boko Haram; Charlie Hebdo; the Supreme Court’s ruling on “gay marriage”; endless presidential primaries; Planned Parenthood’s calloused, soulless selling of aborted baby parts; the riots on college campuses; the attacks in Paris and several other places the past week. It is easy to believe that things can’t go on much longer. It is easy to believe that the world is coming unhinged. It is easy to focus on all those terrible things and become worried, wearied, disheartened, and despairing. But don’t.
Jesus, your Lord and Savior, said that all sorts of terrible things are going to take place in this broken, sinful world. In Lk. 21:28, which is parallel to this text, Jesus says, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Don’t focus on the evil that surrounds you. Instead, straighten up. Raise your head. Look for your redemption.
Jesus is very clear in v. 31 of our text, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” What is Jesus’ word to you? He says, “You are forgiven. You are My child. You are redeemed, holy, sanctified.” You belong to Jesus because He was willing to become man for you, to suffer the punishment of your sins, to hang on a cross and bleed out His holy and precious blood for you. And Jesus promises, He promises, that He is coming for you. So don’t let the bad and evil things that happen in this world distract you and lead you to despair. Jesus told you that they would happen, and He ascended to heaven where He is seated as king over the entire universe. He is with you always. He will never leave you nor forsake you. So don’t freak out when Chicken Little comes and tells you the sky if falling.
Chicken Little loved to walk in the woods, look at the trees, smell the flowers, and listen to the birds sing. One day while she was walking, an acorn fell from a tree and hit her on the head. “Oh my, oh my. The sky is falling. I must run and tell the lion about it,” she said.
As she ran, she met the hen. The hen asked her, “Where are you going?”
“Oh hen, the sky is falling and I’m going to tell the lion about it.”
“How do you know the sky is falling?” asks the hen.
“It hit me on the head, so it must be so.”
“Well, let me go with you,” says the hen.
So off they run to the lion. On their way, they met the duck. “The sky is falling, and we are running to tell the lion about it!” the hen says to the duck.
“How do you know that?” asked the duck.
“It hit chicken little on the head,” answered the hen.
“I’m coming with you,” responded the duck.
So Chicken Little, the hen, and the duck run along until they met the fox. “Where are you going?” asked the fox.
“The sky is falling and we are going to tell the lion about it,” exclaimed the duck.
The fox, licking his lips, asked, “Do you know where lion lives?”
“I don’t,” said Chicken Little. “I don’t,” said the hen. “I don’t,” said the duck.
“Well, I do,” said the fox. “Come with me and I’ll take you to him.” The fox led the three to his own den and said, “Come right on in.” The three go in, but never come out again.
I’m sure that acorn caused Chicken Little pain. But acorns fall, and bad things happen in this sinful world. Now, don’t think I’m comparing what happened in Paris to an acorn falling on someone’s head. But you and I shouldn’t be surprised when things like the terrorist attack in Paris happen. Frankly, we should be surprised that they don’t happen more often. Evil will always be present in this world, but don’t let the presence of evil cause you to despair. Don’t let yourself get so befuddled that you trust the fox. Stay awake.
Jesus says, “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” And Jesus tells this little parable about a man going on a journey. He puts His servants in charge and gives them all tasks to do, and He leaves. Where does Jesus go? Remember from last week, Jesus is now sitting at God’s right hand, the place of all power and authority. Jesus is there because His work as your High Priest, His sacrifice for your sin and the sin of everyone is done. Jesus is patiently waiting until the time when God says, “Ok, Jesus, it’s time for You to return.”
In the meantime, go about the work that God has given you to do. God hasn’t called you to stop ISIS or figure out the Syrian refugee situation. If you have opportunity to speak God’s truth into those situations, sure, do that. But God has given you important tasks to busy yourself with. Be the best spouse, parent, employer, employee, child, student that you can be. Remember that it is not up to you to save the world. Jesus has already done that. You don’t have to worry about this fallen creation coming apart at the seams and crumbling into dust. Jesus is in control. Don’t tire yourself out with anxiety over this fallen world. Heaven and earth will pass away, but His words to you of forgiveness, life, and salvation will not pass away.
Jesus has given you work to do. He has given you vocations to carry out. Just imagine the witness it is to those who do not have faith, when you calmly and dutifully go about the tasks that Jesus has given to you simply trusting that He has everything in control.
Stay awake. Do what Jesus has given you to do. He is coming again. He will gather you, His elect, from the corners of the earth. Even through the destruction of this creation, Jesus, your Savior, will bring you safely to the resurrection, the new creation, and the life everlasting. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.