Christ Lutheran Church
November 19, 2023
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The Long Journey
For the Lord’s return will be like a man who, going on a journey, summoned his servants and put all that he had into their hands. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one - each in keeping with his ability. Then he immediately set out on his journey. Mt 25:14-15
We have a most holy and precious gospel today!
As another “year of grace” comes to an end, the church draws our minds to the end of time. To the return of Christ from his “long journey,” which consists of his suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, reign at the Right Hand of the Father, and his coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead – and what a surprising, stupendous and splendid day THAT will be!
Then we will see the fulfillment of the words that Johann Scheutz taught the church to sing in the year of our Lord 1675: (TLH #19)
“Within the kingdom of His might
Lo, all is just and all is right.”
And the words that Catherina Von Schlegel taught the church to sing a century later (1752 A.D.)
4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
There is nothing better than that!
Now if we are to understand today’s gospel aright let us learn a few things.
First that the “talents” the Lord speaks of here are not abilities or “gifts,” but units of money – very large units of money! It is estimated that 1 silver talent was worth 16 years of average income; but if it was gold talents that the Lord had in mind, then 15X that amount. But let us not overthink the numbers – except to say that this uber-wealthy Lord entrusted “all that he had,” to the hands of these men, and others like them.
What did he entrust to them? Nothing less than the entire “enterprise” of redemption. Nothing less than “the life of the world.” He put, as it were, all his eggs into one basket, entrusted into the hands of men. It seems incredible, does it not? But that is what he did.
We also know that he returned some long time later and audited the investments each had made, the growth that each gained. But first let us talk about the “long journey.”
When Jesus spoke this parable the End was very, very near!
“Earth and all stars” were wound tighter than a drum the Incarnate Christ, the Lion of Judah, was about to relocate the Creation’s dislocated shoulder, re-align its scoliotic spine – and that without a drop of anesthetic.
The Son of God was about to go “forth to war!” To engage in the Battle of Armageddon! To altogether eliminate Creation’s Enemy, Satan who parades about as an angel of light, so that he might win the hearts and minds of God’s people – that golden dog of the streets who is a master criminal, bomb-thrower and lunatic.
Yes, the Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace was about to establish “Peace on Earth and mercy mild.” He was commencing to break the “iron fetters” by which Satan enslaves every man, woman and child! He was fixing to set us free from the consequences of our participation in the Evil One’s cause.
Now whatever else you may think about playing fast and loose with the Ten Golden Commandments that came to earth from heaven by Moses – to do so makes you a hopeless slave of sin. Like that first dose of heroin from which you can never break away! But opioids are the not the crisis, sin is.
In this battle our Lord Jesus Christ proved himself to be the Good and Faithful servant of God. Him to whom all authority in heaven and on earth was given. A power of which all of science combined has no comprehension for all its kaleidoscopes, telescopes and microscopes. Authority that the God Man exercised for our good, but at the greatest possible cost to himself.
What is the “long journey?” It is his trial where he was convicted of our sins, his suffering. His coronation not with the precious gems of the earth, but with its thorns. On that journey the Holy Flesh of the Beautiful Savior was morphed into a “coat of many colors," and was affixed to the Tree of life by crude nails so that he could not escape. But it was not the nails that kept him there, but his love for us.
Then came the tomb, his victorious descent into hell, and his Ascension to the Right Hand of the Father where he was appropriately coronated “the King of kings and Lord of lords.”
From those lofty heights he intercedes for his church, and guides her with his eye. And from there, mystery of all mysteries, he intervenes into the affairs of men Bodily at every Eucharist.
But all that said the “long journey is not yet over. He will yet return with “all his Holy Angels,” and all “those who pierced him will see him,” the One who spilled his blood into the ground to renew the face of the earth. Because red, not green, is the color of salvation – and so all green deals are but devilish deceptions because sin, not “fossil fuels” is the planet’s problem.
Yes he who suffered will return in glory untold! Suddenly! Abruptly! Unexpectedly! Like a thief in the night!
At that time he will conduct the audit of all audits – of which we will hear more next Sunday. Then every Christian will stand before the judgement seat of Christ, to give an account of himself. The subject will not be finances, however, but faithfulness to Christ, his Church and its mission – for which you were hand-picked.
For, you see, THIS session of the Supremest Court of all is not for the world, but for the church! Just as St. Peter warns: “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)
He will want to know how diligently and faithfully each of us has performed. Did you bury your share of the Kingdom in the ground? Or did do your part in maintaining, and extending the Church so that it might keep believers in the one, true faith unto life everlasting, and bring in the lost as well.
Everyone who is baptized into the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit holds a share in the Christian “enterprise” and will be audited. Even children, even infants, which is why we must never say: I will let my children decide for themselves when they are old enough. That will not work. Not for them, and especially not for you, when the Lord returns from his “long journey.”
But embedded in today’s sobering readings there is also a “pearl of Great Price.” Namely this. If you have been anything less than a fully dedicated member of this Holy Communion, and you are still breathing, there is time to change. Time for you to stop worshiping the Beast of social media. To stop living a virtual life, in the virtual world – that way lies madness! “Weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
There is still time to thrust your fingers into the glorious wounds of Jesus like Faithful Thomas did; to feast on his Holy Communion; which is not virtual, figurative, or representative. But the reality of all realties. The true Body and Blood of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that will keep you in the one true faith, unto life everlasting. And which time you will hear these words: “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” Amen