Advent 2 - Populous Zion: Sunday of the Fig Tree
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
December 6, 2015
Central Passage
Luke 21:25-36

In the name of the FATHER and of the + SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

Our Lord’s warning to His disciples – to you today – isn’t really to watch for the signs of His coming. In fact, the signs of His coming are rather mundane. That is, they’re always with us. When are the nations not in perplexity? When is the sea not taking lives? When are people not in fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world. I mean, my goodness, look at all the nervous twitter on Twitter and the frantic panic on Facebook. Everyone wonders, “What is happening to this world?”

It’s always been this way since Adam and Eve had to bury their son because their first one murdered him. Fear and foreboding, distress of the nations and people perplexed. So that’s not really the Lord’s warning. Instead, His real warning comes a bit later when He says “Watch yourselves.”

It’s easy to watch the sun and moon and stars and see the signs in them. It’s easy to watch the nations tear each other apart, or even for our countrymen to tear each other apart; to watch the mass shootings and homicidal maniacs; to watch students revolt and teachers and adults cave; to watch governments betray it’s people and to watch people take advantage of their neighbors by always being offended at everything. It’s easy to watch all that, like watching a soap opera or crime drama. They make us nervous. They make us afraid. They make us cry. They make us yearn for peace. They make us worry about everything from the price of milk to the price of freedom. But what none of these things make us do is watch ourselves.

No crime drama opens our eyes to our own crimes. No soap opera stills our tongues from our gossip. No homicidal maniac stays our heart from hatred or our lips from speaking deceit. No violent nation or murderous Muslim keeps us from yelling at our kids or hating our spouse. The awful news that so permeates our lives doesn’t keep us from being awful. That’s because you can’t get good fruit from an evil tree.

But watch yourselves, the Lord says. So that you will not be weighed down with the cares of this world, drunk on its madness. Instead, lift up your heads and straighten up; your redemption is drawing near.

Watch yourselves. Don’t watch the world. Watch yourself. Don’t watch the maniacs and murderers, the vile politicians or the good ones. Watch yourself. What do you see? I’ll tell you what your Father in Heaven sees. He sees His child. What, then, is there to fear?

Oh, I know, the world is a scary place. But not really. Not for you and me, children of God and heirs of the inheritance. The world is scary for those who make it their home. Since this is everything for them then they stand to lose everything. But it’s not scary for us for we have eternal life to gain. The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear but of love. And love is not scary.

It’s not scary that the Lord Himself gave a sign and the Virgin was found with Child. It’s not scary that the Son of God took on the flesh of the sons of men so that He would save us from our sins. It’s not scary the the Son of Mary died on the cross to reconcile us to the Father, that we might be called the sons of God. It’s not scary that Jesus, the Lord of all, rose from the dead and conquered sin and death, bring life and immortality to light. It’s not scary that the Lord of Glory ascended to the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us, preparing a place for us in His kingdom. And it’s not scary that He will come again and raise the dead and say to you and to all His saints, “Come, blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Love isn’t scary. Christmas and Easter, they’re not scary. Ascension and the Epiphany, they’re not scary. What is scary? Being apart from the Lord. That is scary. So watch yourselves. But don’t think you’re watching yourself like a self-evaluating Santa Claus, to see if you’ve been naughty or nice, trying to tip the scale to “nice”. That’s language of the Law, and the Law cannot help you. You can’t tip the scale. You’re as naughty as they come. As are we all.

Rather, watch yourself by participating in Jesus. Becoming weighed down by the dissipation and drunkenness, by the cares of this world, is to take your eyes off of Jesus, to remove yourself from the Lord. In an odd sort of way, when you watch Jesus, you’re watching yourself. For where your treasure is, there you heart is also. And who doesn’t keep an eye on their treasure?

So keep an eye on your treasure, which is Jesus. Not a buried treasure, but a living treasury from which all goodness and blessings come; by which your salvation and your life comes; from which eternal life comes. For the Lord is watching you. Not to catch you in your sin. He has done away with your sins. He’s not watching you to make sure you toe the line, making sure you’ve kept the Law, instead He toed the line, conforming to the will of the Father on the cross and back out of the grave. Your Lord is watching you like a lover watches his beloved: to come and take you to where He is, to be with Him.

And therein lies your strength to withstand all these things and to stand before the Son of Man. The Lord watching you is your strength. For the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love. That He may deliver your soul from death and keep you alive (Ps. 33:18-19). The eye of the Lord is upon you to do you good and to bless you. And so He has and He is. He is blessing you with the blessings of heaven and giving you the good of eternal life. His face is shining upon you and He is here giving you His peace.

Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Ps. 33:20-22).

+ In Nomie Iesu +