Does anyone really know what time it is?

"Saint Francis embracing Christ on the Cr...

“Saint Francis embracing Christ on the Cross” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does anyone really know what time it is?

Luke 12:49-56

 

Jesus, Son, Deliverer

My friends, may you be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, living  like intelligent and not like senseless people.  May you make the best of the present time, for it is a wicked age. 17  This is why you must not be thoughtless but must recognize what is the will of the Lord. AMEN!    Adapted from Ephesians 5:15-17 (NJB)

Synchronize your watches

         

The men are gathered around their leader, excited, anxious, a bit nerve-wracked as they consider what it will take to come out of this alive, and more importantly, bring those that they have been sent to rescue out alive.

They have gone over the plan, time and time again. They have it memorized, the exact time each will be called on to do their part, right down to the second.   They know the signals, the potential obstacles, and as they once last time are briefed, the leader calls for them to synchronize their watches, it is 9:35 on my mark….mark!

Timing is very important.  Knowing what time it is, can be critical. (except during the sermon)

When Jesus is talking to the crowd about timing, about how they should know what time it is, they cannot quite comprehend the mission He is on, nor perhaps can they understand how it will change their lives.

It is time for something to happen, for God is in their midst.  Jesus the Messiah is talking to them – and all of the promises of His work in preparing them to be the people of God are coming true, right before their eyes.

But that action will call for a painful division, one that cuts right through their souls, right through their hearts.

Jesus has been teaching them, and we’ve been hearing Him teach them for 3 weeks, about His work… really, we’ve been hearing Him talk to us, calling us to realize it’s time.

The question today is like the title of an old Chicago song…”does anyone really know what time it is?”

and if we do, are we ready for what needs to take place, within us, within our world?

The High Cost of the Mission

As Christ has spoken to us through the gospel readings this week and the previous two weeks, He has asked us about our priorities, or perspective in life and yes, our loyalty.

It’s not that there is something wrong with wealth, or things, or family.  Each has its place; each has it’s time; each should be treasured as a gift from God. The challenge is when they become more important that our relationship with God.  Make no mistake, the cost of hearing God’s love and responding to it, trusting in Him, can divide us from anything.

It can mean we realize that money or careers are not our priority.
It can mean we realize that even relationships with family and friends don’t quite compare.

Luther found this out, when he realized God wanted him to be a priest, his father wanted to disown him.  Francis of Assisi’s dad locked him up in a storage area that was 3 feet tall and 5 feet long because he wanted to become a monk.  Some relatives may call us nuts or fanatics, we may struggle to explain to them why our relationship with God is our highest priority…there is division… at first.

We may even struggle with this cost… after all, worldy logic tells us that blood is thicker than water… though I don’t think they understood the power of this water when the word of God is applied with it.

The temptation is simple – to allow the Trinity to be overlooked.  To see God’s mission to take a back seat, to be blind to our time with family to be time invested in God’s mission. Whenever  we forget it is time to see God at work, we’ve allowed false God’s to slip in,

Back to the question for us, which means more to us? Is it our relationship with God, or how we define ourselves apart from Him?
If it is time to see God’s Kingdom come in its fullness among us, if we are going to find our lives set apart completely for God’s use, then that means that we will be divided from things, and potentially our relationships with others will change.

And we need to ask are we ready for this time?

If we answer ourselves honestly, to really see our loyalty and how we invest our time and effort being centered in our relationship with Christ, we are going to need help.  Lots of it!

Christ’s desire

         

But as is the case over and over, when we have to face the harsh reality and demands of our life of faith, we find the one in whom we have faith.  I love the way the New Living Translation puts the first two verses of the gospel.

I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50  I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished.

 

The two verses are a parallelism – they are saying the same thing. What will set the world on fire – what will devour us, is the very baptism of suffering that Jesus would endure.  For us, that He endured.  Next year – on good Friday, you will hear Jesus proclaim “It is finished” (well you can read it before then too!) It is the same root word as accomplished.  For as He dies, everything in the universe changes – the world is consumed there on the cross – along with all of us, and our sin.

But I want you specifically to see the desire of Jesus – He wants to get on to this, He is under a heavy burden, waiting for His crucifixion!  Not because of the nature of the suffering, but because of what it brings – our deliverance, our salvation, our being united to Him, our being freed from burdens of sin, anxiety over death, from the oppression of Satan.

All of that will be consumed at the cross. All of that was consumed at the cross…

Being on fire for Christ, as some talk about it, is about His suffering, His death, consuming our sin, our idolatry.  It’s about responding to Christ’s enduring the cross because of the incredible joy that God, Father, Son and Spirit would have, with our life in Christ secure.

Look at the cover of the bulletin – that is what the author of Hebrews, tells us, in the chapter after our epistle reading….

What all of those people of faith looked forward to.. it is time for… time to..

2  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which lay ahead of him, he endured the cross, disregarding the shame of it, and has taken his seat at the right of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2 (NJB)

 

That’s the fire that changes everything – this baptism of suffering which Christ endures.  It causes a fire of love, of faith, something which consumes our hearts and minds, something that transforms them, purifying us, assuring us of God’s love in a way that is not illogical – but greater than any logic we can understand…

it’s like the blessing which I started the sermon with…

May you make the best of the present time, for it is a wicked age. 17  This is why you must not be thoughtless but must recognize what is the will of the Lord. AMEN!

The will of God, His greatest desire… to feast with you, to pour out His love upon you, to help you realize you are never alone, but that He would cleanse of all our idolatry, that He would divide us from the world in a sense, but give us back that same world and many of those relationships as they are cured of their brokenness, that they are healed of the sin which so ravaged them.

Because of His love for us…

His burden is over now… the wish that the fire were already burning is no longer needed – this fire, this desire to see the world saved – it is kindling in us, and as we come to realize how great the Father’s love for us is…. It will burn brighter and brighter, as we desire that all the people we know join us…all the people we meet, for as they join us at this altar, we know that they will join us before His throne…..

So yes – may you daily recognize what is the will of the Lord…

That because of the cross, because of Christ’s love, we would dwell now and forever in His peace, the peace that passes all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  AMEN?

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on August 18, 2013, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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