Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Chartered February 25, 1838
Celebrating our 174th Year
Pentecost 25 - Proper 28
18 November 2012
O Lord, absolve Your people from their offenses that from the bonds of our sins, which by reason of our weakness we have brought upon us, we may be delivered by Your bountiful goodness;
“Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (v.1) Do we today admire our handiwork and invite the Lord to join us in our praise of our institutions? Do we say boastfully with Nebuchadnezzar, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power?” (Daniel 4:30) Our personal Babylon may be our career, our business, or the institution that we serve – they are all under the judgment of God’s purposes. If our accomplishments, no matter how splendid, do not conform to His purposes, we shall also hear the verdict; “There will not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (v.2) How shall we interpret Jesus’ reply to Peter, James, John, and Andrew?
- We like to admire human achievement. This is a good thing. It’s important for us to remember the great things God had done in our midst. Next year we will celebrate our congregation’s 175th anniversary. This is a wonderful thing. The Lord has helped us. The Lord has blessed us. The story of our success shows that the Lord has given many gifts to His people. Without Him, we can do nothing. However, there is also a word of caution for us to heed.
A. The disciples of our Lord were clearly shocked by Jesus’ reply that the magnificent temple would be destroyed. Their questions – and we continue to ask similar questions – concerning their possible involvement in the predicted calamity.
When will it happen? By what sign can we know this? Obviously, there was more than mere curiosity. They were hoping for good times to come. They were looking for restoration and glory. They were looking forward to the day when it would be their time to lead. They would be in charge. They would be in control. They would call the shots.
Their questions contained the implied knowledge that our Lord’s prediction also entailed a massive future shift in the lives the people of God. They would reap the benefits. However, Jesus announced the beginning of judgment.
B. Our questions today also seek to know the mystery of the future. When will this happen? How will it come about? What are the signs of Christ’s coming? However, if that were possible, we would become distant, detached observers of events not directly associated with our lives – as though we were asking for information regarding a scheduled game or a TV spectacle. However, when God deals with His creation, no one may assume the role of a securely uninvolved spectator. The predicted event will involve us all.
- His answers
A. This Gospel must first be preached to all the nations before the end of the age.
It will be proclaimed as a testimony to the nations. A testimony that Jesus Christ alone is Lord. Of all the religious figures to ever walk this earth many claimed to have a new directive. Many claimed to have been given a different insight. What makes Jesus Christ different is He alone claimed to be God. He says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
A testimony that He has won for us salvation and life. Jesus Christ won for you and me salvation and life by going to the cross to suffer and die there. Then He victoriously rose from the dead. This, again, is what gives Jesus distinction. Even if there were one who claimed to be God, Jesus proves to be God alone by rising from the dead. If you want to destroy Christianity, you will have to explain away both the resurrection of Jesus Christ bodily from the tomb and the changed lives of those who witnessed His resurrection. The early followers of Jesus Christ after the resurrection even simply stated, “We are witnesses of these things.” 2
Only after this message has been proclaimed will the end come. When the gospel message has been proclaimed in all the earth, the end will come. Already the Gospel has proclaimed on every continent. What then will be the signal that the end will come? When the last person is converted, the end will come. The probability of Christ returning in your lifetime is higher now than ever before. This could very well be the Last Generation!
B. If we want to hasten the time of Christ’s return we will want to be mission minded. So even more may hear this most precious message.
So even more can be led by the Holy Spirit to be converted and to believe. St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans, How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
C. This Gospel will be preached – it is a specific message – it is the message of the cross – St. Paul reminds us, “I desire to know nothing among you save Jesus and Him crucified.”
The message we proclaim is a message of the cross. For it was on the bloody cruel cross of Calvary where Jesus bore the sins of all. It was at the cross where Jesus was winning for the world salvation, life, an eternal victory. This is what must give us a clear distinction.
Where Christ and Him crucified permeates all we do. Where Christ is the center of our entire work in the parish, in our school, in our homes, in our lives. So we live forgiven lives- in sacramental living.
D. To all the nations – Every tribe, clan, nation – In the book of Revelation John gives us a picture of what heaven will look like. “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!”
America continues to be the melting pot. 174 years ago, immigrants looked a lot like us. Not so today – consider immigration trends in America today.
® When a White person dies in America today only one will take his place due to birth or immigration. 1/1 There is no growth amongst Caucasians in America today;
® When a Black person dies in America today 3 will take his place due to birth or immigration. 3/1;
® When a Hispanic dies in America today 8 will take his place due to birth or immigration. 8/1 As of the 2000 census (twelve years ago) there were more Hispanics in the US then African-Americans and that number continues to increase.
® When an Asian dies in America today 15 will take his place due to birth or immigration. 15/1
We no longer have to go to foreign lands to be engaged in mission work. There are people living within the shadows of this church who have yet to hear of the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. There are people living in this community “without a prayer.” They didn’t wake up this morning thinking of the destiny of their immortal soul. They have no concept of God except for what is played out in the imagination of their own heart. They are living their lives “without a prayer” of “being number with the saints in glory everlasting.”
Consider Lutheran Hour Ministry’s theme, “Bringing Christ to the Nations and the nations to the church.” There are our marching orders. Reaching out into the world with the saving message of Jesus Christ. Where is your mission field? It’s where you live and flourish.
Conclusion: This text is for each of us – to share Christ with whomever we meet. May God use you to be His feet and hands.