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Raise Your Head, Redemption's Near (Second Sunday in Advent)

[Read Luke 21:25-36] ……………..28“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 29 And he told them a parable: “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. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth…………

Raise Your Head, Redemption’s Near

“Straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

And also our reading from Malachi: “the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.” [Malachi 4:1-2]

That day will be a day of light: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father”, our Lord said elsewhere [Matthew 13:43]. And it will be a day of darkness: “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!”, said the prophet Amos, “Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light” [Amos 5:18].

The day of the coming of our Lord is not the same for all people. It is the day of redemption, and also the judgment. Many will have rest on that day from their labors, because “their deeds follow them” [Revelation 14:3]. Others, torment because their deeds follow them.

Jesus is at the gate. In every age of the church, from the days of the Apostle Paul until now, the branch has been green – the fig tree has been out in leaf [Luke 21:30]. Every age has believed that the end would come in their time. And, indeed, Jesus admonishes us to live in constant expectation of His coming, His Advent.

“Stay awake” – “Raise your heads” – “your redemption is drawing near.” In each generation, this expectation has not disappointed. Though the end has not come, many have come to their end. We all live with Christ at the gates.

Young or old, we all live with our end so potentially near. Our King and Judge is only a moment away from any of us. For some this is a yearned for hope of light. For others, a fearful darkness. For all, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” [Hebrews 9:27]

“He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” [Romans 2:6-8]

And the Apostle Paul said to the Christians in Corinth: “We make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” [2 Corinthians 5:9-10]

Jesus said, ““Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” [Luke 6:46] And, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” [Matthew 7:24]

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” [Luke 8:21]. “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it” [Luke 11:28].

“Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” “For each tree is known by its own fruit” [Luke 3:9; 6:44]. And, the Kingdom of God will be “given to a people producing its fruits.” [Matthew 21:43].

When Jesus comes on His Day of Light, that Day in which your redemption draws near, He comes looking for the fruits of faith done in His people of faith.

That I believe who Christ is and am a hearer of His Word is no credit to me, but a discredit, if I only hear but do not do. Knowing Christ but then taking His Word so lightly only makes me doubly guilty because I know the One whom I’m disregarding. It would be better to be ignorant and not know any better than to be a hearer who is not a doer, as that Day approaches.

Love God and therefore do His commands. Believe that Jesus is who He says He is, and therefore hear His words accordingly. Hear and do, not just hear.

Listen to these words to be heard and done:

Our Lord said, “I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” …... “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” ….. “forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you” ….. “and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” [Luke 6:27-31, 35-38]

The many cares of this life so often make us forget these words and commands – we forget that these words are meant to be for our life as Christians.

“Straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Christ is at your gate. Let that Day be a day of light and gladness – hear and do. What we must first do daily is turn to that One who died for sinners and who atoned for those who fall short of His glory.

Because that Day is so severe, we do need a Savior.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood” [Romans 3:23-25]. Justified – set right with God – by His free favor for all men, not by works which follow, but by Christ’s shed blood on the Cross which precedes both our faith and our works.

So that Day can be a day of light for us who fall short and are too sinful – and who bear too little fruit – Jesus went ahead of us to the Last Day on the Day of His Cross. There, though He is Righteous and Light, He suffered the Day of Darkness for us, in our stead. On the cross, Jesus became the sin of the sinners and died – our sin put to death in His flesh that we may now live forgiven. “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf (on the cross), so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” [2 Corinthians 5:21].

“In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” [2 Corinthians 5:19]. For a faith which hears and does, fix your eyes first one Jesus - on what God has done for you in Him. “We love”, and therefore do, “because He first loved us” [1 John 4:19].

His Cross is your root and your trunk and your branch. He makes out of a sinner a fruitful vine. He does it and has done it. And He will make that Last dark Day of His Coming into a Day of Light and Redemption for You who trust in Him. Amen.

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