Advent Midweek 2
Christ’s Second Coming
December 11, 2013
Trinity Lutheran Church – New Haven, MO
In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Clouds in Holy Scripture always indicate the presence of God. During the Exodus, the Children of Israel were led by a pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day. When they came to Mount Sinai, the Lord said that He was coming in a thick cloud. When a cloud was settled on the Tabernacle, they knew the Lord was present; when the cloud was taken up, they knew it was time to leave that place.
In the New Testament as well, you know the presence of God by clouds. When Jesus was transfigured, a cloud descended upon the mountain. When Jesus ascended into heaven, a cloud took him from their sight.
These clouds aren’t the cirrus or cumulous clouds that float by high in the sky. The cloud of the Lord is close, intimate. It settles in the midst of His people, hiding the fullness of His glory from sinful eyes and hearts, while allowing Him to interact with His beloved people in mercy.
And so, when Jesus was taken up in the cloud at His Ascension, the angel says to the disciples, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into the heavens, will come in the same manner you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11b).
Jesus Himself says of His Second Coming, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send out the angels and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (Mark 13:24-27).
The season of Advent is a season to prepare for Christ’s coming. But our preparations are not just for His coming as a baby on Christmas—we also prepare for His Second Advent on the Last Day.
On that great day, Jesus will be seen as He truly is with His great power and glory. He will emerge from the cloud with which He hides Himself and reveal His exalted and glorified humanity. On that day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Php 2:10-11; Rom 14:10-12). There will be no more doubt, for all will see Christ as He is.
On that day, those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and who have disobeyed the Gospel will be handed over to the suffering of eternal punishment, removed from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might (2 Th 1:9).
But the elect, those who are prepared for His Second Advent, will be gathered by the angels into His kingdom.
How do you prepare for Christ’s Second Coming? Well, He offers a rehearsal every week. For even though He has been taken up and removed from our sight in the cloud of the Ascension, He yet comes to us through the Gospel and the Sacraments.
Every time you encounter the Gospel of Christ proclaimed, every time you return to your Baptism through repentance and forgiveness, every time you approach His altar is a rehearsal of Christ’s final coming to judge both the living and the dead.
But, through His holy Word and Sacraments, you have already experienced the Lord’s coming to judge you. And the judgment He proclaims is, “Not guilty!” For He Himself came at His First Advent as a baby in Bethlehem to take your guilt and to bear your judgment on the cross.
So, with Christ’s Holy Word and Sacraments you are prepared for Him to come again, whether it’s tonight, in another year, or after your body has been laid to rest in the grave. Then, on that Last Day, the Son of Man will come with the clouds, and He will gather you together with all the elect to live under Him in His kingdom in righteousness and purity forever.
In + Jesus’ name. Amen.
Rev. Jacob Ehrhard