Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven #11: We’re Here! and It’s Time for the Feast!
Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven #11
We’re Here! and It’s Time for the Feast!
† IN JESUS NAME †
As You Look into Eternity, May the Grace, the Mercy and Peace of God the Father and our Shepherd Jesus Christ, Bring You Comfort and Build Your Desire for His Return!
Will We Get There… On Time?
Eleven weeks ago, we started on this sermon series, a look at our journey through our life together towards heaven. Today, on the day we celebrate the coronation of Jesus Christ our savior, we come to the end of the sermon series….
We celebrate looking forward to the day, when our journey with Him ends, when we arrive home in His presence and celebrate a feast more incredible than any we have ever experienced.
So this is the one last lesson about our journey in the backseat – on our way toward Heaven.
There is one person in every family, who stands at the door, waiting for everyone else to finally get ready. They are worried about traffic, and being on time. The rest of us are possibly frustrating them, as they don’t want to be late for the plane, or for church, or for dinner. Maybe especially for dinner.
I mean, how many of you want to be late for a holiday dinner?
My dad was the one who waited by the door, or more likely, out in the car. My sister would be hogging the bathroom saying she needed to get ready, my brother watching television, and I probably had my head in a book. My mom would be trying to get us all out to the car… and she had a hard job.
Years later, I would find out my dad’s strategy, when he set the time we “needed” to leave on a car trip, he would always add 20 minutes to his estimation, so that we were actually in the car when we should have been, and we’d arrive on time, a few minutes before the feast would begin.
He would make sure we got there, on time, not because he drove fast, but because he put in place a plan.
God has a plan, and as we look towards the end of this age, and see the plan God has revealed, we will realized that He planned well. We will arrive before the throne of God on time, and the feast will begin!
He has promised this, and He is the faithful shepherd! It is His journey, His ministry towards us.
Distractions Along the Road
As we read Ezekiel 34, our Old Testament text this morning, God commits to going out and find every one of His scattered children.
They are all lost in the dark, in a fog. They have been scattered, they aren’t where they should be, all together, in the presence of the One who loves them. His commitment is to find them, to bring them home, to help them at any cost, even if they as so confused, so stressed, they don’t recognize at first that He is God. That He is their shepherd.
Scattered, lost, in the dark, their minds fogged and confused, the people God loves need help, they need rest, and they to be fed, to be restored. But they have to be found, they have to be rounded up, they need to come home.
In verse 16, the promise is made again, specifically noting that they have strayed away. The word there is the same word in Hebrew for being seduced, being tempted – and the world does that all too well. Think of how materialistic our society has become, and we see one of the ways Satan tempt us, seduces us. We covet power and authority, tempted to believe that if we have it our way, it will all come out right. We make idols our minds, or our hearts, and they demand that we sacrifice everything to satisfy our own desires…..and our hearts drive us away from God, because of sin.
In verse 20 there is another reason why sheep have to be found, have to be rescued and restored.
20 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will surely judge between the fat sheep and the scrawny sheep. 21 For you fat sheep pushed and butted and crowded my sick and hungry flock until you scattered them to distant lands.
I’ve met many people over the years that describe church in words like these. Some feel driven away, because it took too long to find a way to meet their needs. Others feel that way because the church. Others feel driven from the church, because those entrusted to share God’s grace, do not, but instead condemn those looking for forgiveness.
This is a challenge, because too often we look at the incident, rather than acknowledge the feelings we see develop from the situation. Whether the situations are as the people perceived it occurring or not, the feelings are valid. They feel driven off, they feel broken and even abused by other sheep. Rarely is one side completely accurate, there are two sides to every story, but the feelings are what drive the people away, or cause resentment to build until the pain is too much to bear, and the flock is scattered.
Sometimes this is done intentionally, but more often than not, we can drive people away because we are so hungry ourselves, so in need of God’s love. It is as if we don’t believe God can care for all of us, and so we fight like triplets for our Father’s attention.
When we sin against someone, when they sin against us, those sins can be brutal, and can drive people away from the church, where God’s put His name… so they can know His love! If we realize we’ve done this, we need to ask forgiveness, if it’s done to us, we need to offer it. We all need to seek reconciliation.
I’ve mentioned this before, when Jesus died to pay for sin, He didn’t just pay for those we’ve committed. Yes, He has rescued us, delivered us from the sins caused by our desires. But He has also rescued his people from the sins committed against them, the times where the fat sheep have driven others away….intentionally or not intentionally.
God goes after us, rescuing us from the darkness, rescuing us from that which clouds our lives. Over and over in scripture that is the promise,
Here it with your name placed there, instead of sheep
“For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search and find (your name). 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for (your name). I will find my (your name) and rescue (your name) from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.
“I will feed (your name) on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where (your name) live(s). 14 Yes, I will give (your name) good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There (your name) will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. 15 I myself will tend (your name) and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for my lost ones, including (your name) who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak including (your name).
23 And I will set over (your name) one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed (your name) and be a shepherd to (your name). 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people (the church). I, the LORD, have spoken!
This is what God does, He rescues us, makes us His children through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the death and resurrection we are bound to in baptism. He quickens us, brings us to life and faith and repentance, and calls us to journey home with Him.
It is that journey we’ve heard about, as we’ve been asked to “get along back there”, to give up the trash we’ve been hoarding in our lives, as we’ve asked, “are we there yet” and cried “it isn’t fair”, as we’ve realized the beauty of the journey is found in making it with Christ, as we’ve depended upon the Holy Spirit, as we count on Jesus to be our way home, into the presence of the Father, into His glorious presence.
Now it’s time for a feast, a feast that will be complete at the marriage feast of the lamb, when the last prophecies come true, when we hear,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.
Until that day, live in His peace…for there is safety and security, found in Jesus Christ. AMEN!
Here is an audio version of the sermon:
Posted on November 23, 2014, in Sermons and tagged Christ the King Sunday, Concordia Lutheran Church, Day of Judgment, End Times, Eschatology, Ezekiel 34, forgiveness, God's love, Hurt by the church, Jesus, Last Day, Last Days, mercy. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.