Christ Lutheran Church
November 14, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
"Beware! that no one deceives you.” (Mark 13:5)
Christians are always anxious to hear sermons about the end of the world; and if that is your thing you will find no shortage of them.
There are any number of religious broadcasts online, on radio and TV. There are new books for sale every week at the grocery store check out line featuring these; and if you want to spend money, and visit exotic locations, you can attend “prophecy conferences” held all over the world, all year long. But it is not recommended because Jesus says in today’s gospel,
“Beware that no one deceive you,” (Mark 13:5) and deceive you they will.
This is not to say that the world is not going to be brought to a conclusion, because it is! Not by the “ecological apocalypse” that politicians positively drool over – that industry is a bigger swindle than the “end time” industry.
Yes, the world will come to a conclusion, but no one knows when; but what we do know is that it will be as sudden as it will unexpected!
When everyone is going about business as usual, when it is least expected, then it will come. And then people will cry out to the mountains to fall on them to protect them from the “consuming fire” (Heb 12:19 of the Judge of all mankind. He who reads the secret thoughts and intents of the heart, and will make them known to all. Because our Lord says that, “That there is nothing that is now hidden, that will not be revealed.” (Lk. 12:2) And so blessed are the poor in spirit, and the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Yes, the world will come to an close, and Christ will return “to judge the living and the dead.” But that is not what the Lord is talking about in TODAY’S gospel.
But then, you might ask, what is he talking about?
Two things, Beloved. He is talking ABOUT HIMSELF; and he is talking about the “END OF THE OLD WORLD”. The un-redeemed world that was about to be redeemed by the Lord’s Great Tribulation. By he who is the “Abomination of Desolation”.
Yes, Jesus is the subject of today’s gospel and he is about to bring the Old World to an end, and inaugurate a New World. A New Covenant. A New Testament in his blood. The Single Offering which according to Hebrews 10:14, “perfects for all time those who are being sanctified.” And by which he also answers the prayer we pray in today’s Collect, “O Lord, by Your bountiful goodness release us from the bonds of our sins.”
Jesus is the Lord we supplicate in this prayer, and he came to do exactly that: to release us from the bonds, the chains, the abject slavery and the driving, burning, maddening demands that tempt us day and night from our own flesh, from the Evil One, and from the culture about us.
Now as regards the “Great Tribulation,” all those who hold to a certain Fundamentalist theology believe the Great Tribulation will be a period of 1,000 years when the devil will be let out of hell to do his worst on earth. How do they reach that conclusion? They torture Scripture.
But in Mark 13:19 Jesus says, “for in those days there will be tribulation such as 1) has not been since the beginning of the Creation that God created, 2) until now, 3) and never again will be.”
That is the TRIBULATION that Jesus suffered for our sins! And it is only when we recognize the magnitude of human sin. The multitude of transgressions, outrages and atrocities that humanity collectively perpetrates… only when we acknowledge those can we begin to comprehend the Magnitude of Tribulation that the Son of Man bore in his body, mind, soul and spirit to purge our crimes. To wash them away, wipe them out of existence, so that God will remember them no more.
Remember YOUR sins no more!
There never has been, nor will there ever be Greater Tribulation than that suffered by our Lord when he gladly gave himself to redeem us.
Not only because of the degree and intensity of the agony. But because of whom it was laid upon – the “holy innocent” beloved Son of God. Yes, it because of our Lord’s Divine Holiness that his TRIBULATION is GREAT enough to nullify and reverse all that sin, death and devil have done. A TRIBULATION of whose blessings we are the recipients!
There is also the matter of “ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION” or said another way “the desolate abomination.”
What is an abomination? It is the unthinkable. Such as when parents kill their children, or children their parents. When the guilty are rewarded, and the righteous punished. When people call black, white and white black. That is abomination.
But this ABOMINATION was more monstrous than any other because of WHO is on the cross. Because of WHO wears the thorns on his sacred head. Because of WHO bears the scourge, the nails, the insults and the contemptuous spit.
It is he of whom the good thief says: “this man has done nothing wrong.” Of whom the centurion beneath the cross says: “Truly, this was the Son of God.” Of whom even Pilate knew: “This man has done nothing deserving death.”
But this ABOMINATION was also DESOLATE which means that nobody cared! No one was interested! No one gave it a second thought!
Now as impossible as that may seem to US Isaiah prophesied it 750 years before the Lord’s birth when he wrote of our Lord:
“He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”
But Isaiah goes on to say: “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
And so we are, Beloved. Healed by the Great Tribulation suffered by the Abomination of Desolation, Jesus our Blessed Lord, God and Savior.
Now there is no doubt that the things our Lord says in today’s gospel do in fact sound like the end of the world. And that is only fitting, because his suffering and death brought about exactly that: the end of the Old World, and the beginning of the New World, The New Testament in his blood.
By our Lord’s tribulation the devil is stood on his ear. He has lost his power over us. His claim over us. His ownership over us. Now we no longer fear death or judgment because our Lord experienced it for us. Now, however rickety this Old Word may be – and it is very unsteady – we belong to an immovable Kingdom of Peace. Amen