May 16, 2010
Seventh Sunday of Easter (C)
Harold Camping lets out a hearty chuckle when he considers the people who believe the world will end in 2012. “That date has not one stitch of biblical authority,” Camping says from the Oakland office where he runs Family Radio, an evangelical station that reaches listeners around the world. “It’s like a fairy tale. The real date for the end of times,” he says, “is in 2011.”
One of two things is true. Either Camping hasn’t read his Bible carefully enough, or Jesus didn’t know what He was talking about. Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” I suspect we all know who is wrong.
There may be mystery about when Jesus is returning, but there is no doubt that He will come. Our Bible ends with those promises. However, in the midst of those promises we see a real issue. Will we be prepared for His coming?
In order to be ready for His coming:
I. We accept our need for cleansing (
Jesus is clearly the Source of all hope when it relates to the end of time as we know it. He uses three pairs of terms indicating He brackets time. He’s the last letter of the alphabet, the final number in the count, the completion of all that was ever started. As the author of all that is, He brings an offer to all who are interested…we can share life as He knows it after life as we know it is over. He brings His reward.
Before anyone can share that final reward, there must be an act of cleansing. In this case, we “wash our robes.” Early in Genesis, God cleansed the earth through a flood. In Isaiah, a coal from the altar cleansed Isaiah of sin. Ananias called Saul to “arise and wash away his sins.” Paul told Titus that Jesus’ first coming provides an opportunity for a “washing of regeneration and a renewal of the Spirit.”
After driving through the slush created by tons of calcium chloride and snow, my car looked like a disaster. As I drove to a funeral, I was desperate for an open car wash. No one wants to show up at such a solemn occasion as a funeral with a dirty car. Likewise, no one should think it’s acceptable to arrive at judgment with sin-stained robes.
In order to be ready for His coming:
II. We acknowledge our call to come (
Again Jesus establishes Himself as the Source of what man needs. He is the Source of all that lives (the root), and He comes through the lineage that matters (David). He offers what man needs most, the water of life. Jesus makes the offer; we choose whether to accept.
Glenn wanted no heroic measures at the end of his life. He explicitly requested there be no force feedings. When his son came to his room at the nursing home, there was a large syringe beside his father’s bed. It was apparent that Glenn’s wishes were being ignored. Those actions were done from good motives, though an unwelcome interference with his passing.
Jesus takes no such actions. While He knows (better than we do) what our needs are, He never forces us to accept. He makes the offer, but it’s up to us to acknowledge His call and come to Him for His supply. If we are to be ready for His return and the future He has planned, we have to acknowledge that without Him we are suffering through an impassable desert.
Making preparations for His coming means:
III. We anticipate His coming (
Once we’ve considered the promise of Jesus to return and realize we have the responsibility to be ready, we can begin living in anticipation of His return. In fact, because we have acknowledged our need and responded to His call, we will begin not only to anticipate Him, but long for Him. We will begin to pray for His return.
General Douglas MacArthur kept his promise to the Filipino people when on Oct. 20, 1944, he returned to Leyte Island. People in the Philippines still remember his fulfilled promise.
Jesus will keep His promise, as well. He is dependable and will come. That is not in question. The only question is, “Will we be ready?”