Title: Christ is coming! Your redemption is drawing near!
Text: Luke 21:25-28
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
In a speech made in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, Jesus said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Redemption requires destruction. Before something can be rebuilt it must first be destroyed. To make new again requires demolition.
As Jesus and his disciples walked through the temple, some of His disciples remarked in admiration on the Temple itself, on its various buildings, porticoes, halls, and chambers, and especially did they mention the beautiful stones, the huge marble monoliths, which formed the Corinthian columns, and the gifts that were consecrated to the Lord, the many articles of adornment which were so noticeable throughout the Temple.
P.E. Kretzmann popular commentary on the Bible Pg. 378
Jesus then tells them of the things to come:
8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.
Jesus warns His disciples that it is easy to be deceived into following false, messiahs and false gods. To know the true God is to know His word and to follow His teachings only.
He warns of wars, trials and persecutions when He says:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
The coming end will not be a time of joy and for His children there will be a time of persecution.
… they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness.
To speak the gospel to those who persecute you, Jesus says, is a time for witness. It is a time to proclaim the gospel.
He will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict and promises that you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and that some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated, he says.
He tells them of the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies and the destruction that will come:
20 “… let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
This will not be a good time:
For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Trial and persecution are coming. You see it, read about and know it firsthand. To be a Christian means you will be an offense to some as Christ was and offense.
During China's Boxer Rebellion of 1900, insurgents captured a mission station, blocked all the gates but one, and in front of that one gate placed a cross flat on the ground. Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life, but that any refusing would be shot. Terribly frightened, the first seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free. But the eighth student, a young girl, refused to commit the sacrilegious act. Kneeling beside the cross in prayer for strength, she arose and moved carefully around the cross, and went out to face the firing squad. Strengthened by her example, every one of the remaining ninety-two students followed her to the firing squad.
Today in the Word, February, 1989, p. 17.
Today as well persecution runs rampant as was seen in the Westgate mall in Kenya where 137 were killed by Muslim extremists. Coptic Christians in Egypt too have been targeted.
“Coptic Christians joyfully waited outside the Virgin Church in Cairo for the bride to arrive. … Instead, bearded men on a motorcycle pulled up and fired. … “We heard gunfire and ran outside to find people and children lying on the ground swimming in their blood,” said Father Sawiris Boshra.”
Reuters, Oct. 21
Can the persecution come to your country, your church and even your home too? We already see the beginnings of it in our own country. Sin affects us all. The sin of others can and will affect you.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)
Apart from faith no one can come to God or call on him as a loving Father. The cross of Christ is an offence. It says that God, and salvation in Christ is an objective fact and that the humanistic and rational thought of the day that says that all ways lead to the heaven and to the same loving God is false.
The hope of the Christian is to the one outside ourselves who came down from heaven. You do not need to ascend to God because He came down for you and he will return.
Christ is coming! Your redemption is drawing near!
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
27 they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
The fear of persecution is met with the joy of redemption. The joy of eternal life found only in Christ. This is the joy that these believers knew awaited them and that they were not abandoned … but rescued in Christ. In His death they too would find life … and find it abundantly.
The truth of trials is real but so is the rescue by Christ for all who believe. Officiating at my dad’s funeral brought this reality home literally for me. Here was death, close and personal but so to the eternal hope that Christ gives to you and to me. That in Him we all who believe will spend eternity together. It is a comfort when you morn and it is a joy that will take away the tears of sadness because Christ has wiped them away and replaced them with the tears of joy in the resurrection; in reunion in heaven one day; in a forever not covered in sin and death and the devil will no longer have the power to accuse and condemn because he and death will be cast down to the pit of hell forever.
Christ is coming! Your redemption is here in Christ!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.