Going Deeper 11-29-19

The Gospel reading for Advent 1…

Matthew 24:36-44   36 "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. "


Are you ready?  If Jesus comes back today as the “Son of Man” to bring an end to the world as we know it, are you ready?  What does it take to be ready?


Of course, the first and foremost answer is this: we are ready if we trust in the goodness and grace of God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 come to mind… “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”  We are not saved by our own merit or good works, but solely by the grace of God.


Here comes the tricky part.  Ephesians 2:10 now comes to mind (and we ought not stop at v. 9!)… “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”  While we are not saved by works, we are saved for works!  In the very next chapter of Matthew, Jesus will again describe His return as “Son of Man.”  In this well-known text, Jesus welcomes those who have cared for “the least of these” to receive “the inheritance prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” 


We are ready for the coming of Christ when we both receive and respond to God’s saving grace.  Martin Luther wrote that you cannot separate faith from good works any more than you can separate heat and smoke from fire.  We are ready when we are living out the new life that has been gifted to us, when we engaged in the process of being transformed, when we are gratefully living in the way of Jesus.


This is the most tricky theology!  We must never separate works from grace, thinking that we are somehow saved by our merit or works, or that they even contribute to our salvation.  But at the very same time, we must avoid cheap grace, grace that loves to be forgiven but has no interest in responding. 


The bottom line is this: by grace we are the children of God.  Our response to that gift is to live more and more fully as children of God are called to live… and our clearest example of what that looks like is our brother, Jesus.


With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."