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Thursday, October 20, 2016

10162016 - 21st Sunday After Trinity - Apostle's Creed - "And He will come to judge the living and the dead."

October 16, 2016
And He will come to judge the living and the dead.

Last week we spoke clearly about the journey of the Christ Candle.  How it moves in a rhythmic dance from the floor of the sanctuary to the baptismal font and finally resting by the altar from where we receive the Sacrament of the Altar, Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood.  The Christ Candle is a symbol of our remembrance of where Jesus Christ ascends to and sits that is interesting and telling of Jesus future role.
Yes, I have multiple times spoken how the Old Testament people were looking forward for the coming Messiah.  From Adam and Eve in the Garden, through Moses and the prophets, the importance of the Passover feast and the Children of Israel leaving Egypt, King David and even in Malachi, how the people were yearly looking for the Messiah.  And how we today when talking about salvation history don’t look forward like in the Old Testament, but we look back to what Jesus Christ completed on the Cross of Calvary.  And why Jesus Christ ascension into heaven turned the page and ushered in a new era.  For only 10 days later after Jesus ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit would descend upon the disciples and they would be emboldened to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Yet, for we who gather here today we look back and remember the fulfillment of all of scripture in Jesus Christ and how we confess the Apostle’s Creed that tells this story of salvation through Jesus Christ for all of mankind on the Cross of Calvary
Yet, Jesus Christ role was not complete.  Though Jesus Christ had ascended into heaven, the Second Article continues with a future in mind of what Jesus Christ would do.  Yes, Jesus Christ fulfilled salvation history on the Cross of Calvary and the gift of grace found in, through and by our baptism into His life, His death, but especially His resurrection.  But, Jesus Christ was not done.  For there is more to Jesus role and the story and why we continue when we confess, “And He will come to judge the living and the dead.
Our consistent confession of the Creeds puts the fear of God into some, because no one likes to be judged.  I don’t like it and I bet each of you don’t like it as well.  But Jesus Christ judgement is not an earthly judgement, but an eternal judgment that has as its standard, not the rules or by-laws of man, but the truth that is found in the Scriptures, the Word of God.  As Koehler states in his Catechism, “All will be judged according to God’s Word.  This Word is not the Law of God, for if Christ would judge us according to the Law, none of us could stand.  The Word that Christ has spoken is the Gospel, and each individual will be judged according to his attitude toward this Gospel, whether he believed it or not.” (p. 171-172, Q. 156.B.)  Therefore, our belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is central to the judgment we confess with, “And He will come to judge the living and the dead.
Jesus Christ sits on the throne of God the Father.  Unlike the throne in Game of Thrones or the recreations of what some believe King Arthur’s throne looked like or King David or King Solomon, the importance is not the throne of God, but what Jesus Christ will do.  From God’s perspective it is not a matter of ‘past, present or future’, but it is a matter of what Jesus Christ will do when God the Father decides as we confess that Jesus Christ “will come”.  Notice it is not if Jesus Christ will come, God is clear and we confess that Jesus Christ “He will come”.
Hence why we confess “And He will come to judge the living and the dead.”  This is not an decree, but a clear and emphatic fact that Jesus Christ is returning.  Jesus Christ is coming back and Jesus Christ has a job.  You see, Jesus didn’t ascend to heaven to rest for eternity.  Jesus Christ didn’t ascend into heaven without a purpose.  Jesus Christ ascended into heaven to intercede for us and so that he will return.  Not only to fulfill His Kingly Office, but as we confess, “And He will come to judge the living and the dead.”  But biblically there is clear evidence that Jesus did return after His ascension, but it wasn’t to fulfill our confession of this part of the creed.
Jesus returned after His resurrection and ascension, not to judge, but to speak directly into the life of one who was judging others.  Jesus Christ showed up on a road outside of the city of Damascus and spoke directly to the man then known as Saul.  You see Saul was not only judging Jews who had believed Jesus message, Saul was not only persecuting them, Saul was throwing them in jail and even killing people who were followers of Jesus Christ.  Saul was as Jesus said, persecuting those who believed in Jesus Christ.  Saul was judging the living and killing the ‘new followers’ of Jesus all in the name of the Jewish religion.
But Jesus Christ not only encountered Saul on the road to Damascus, but changed Saul’s heart and paradigm of faith and belief.  Jesus didn’t eternally judge Saul, but stated the facts of what Saul was doing and simply asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  And with this seven word sentence, Jesus Christ then revealed unto Saul the full revelation of Himself and that He, Jesus Christ was not eternally judging Saul, but was calling him, Saul, the enforcer for the Jews, to be on His team, to go on Jesus Christ mission for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

So for we today here in Goodland, KS, what does it mean for us today?  We are a clear and direct descendent of Jesus Christ through the efforts of Paul and the other disciples.  When we confess “And He will come to judge the living and the dead.”  Our confession is with the understanding that Jesus Christ is calling us to be on His team as well.  For us to go on His, Jesus Christ mission to spread the Gospel.  Hence why we are Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.  For Jesus Christ “will come” in order to judge, both “the living and the dead”.  But Jesus Christ will judge us, with only one standard, and one criteria, do you believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  The Gospel Saul then named Paul would not only preach, proclaim but produce the largest part of our New Testament.  Do we believe that Jesus Christ died for all of mankind and offers the forgiveness of sins for everyone, whether murderer, adulterer or those who assault our character?  I personally do believe in the forgiveness Jesus Christ offers and this is why we join our voices together to boldly confess that Jesus Christ not only died for each and every one of us on the Cross of Calvary, but especially enabling each of us to confess boldly, “And He will come to judge the living and the dead.”  AMEN.

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