Saints Triumphant Sunday
To Him who is and who was and who is to come, our Lord Jesus Christ, dear friends in Christ, The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Ever heard that phrase before? Do you know where it comes from? It comes from an old fairy tale that goes something like this: there was a little chicken who had an acorn fall on her head and she assumed the sky was falling, so she ran to tell a hen, then both of them panicked and told the duck, then all three of them panicked and told the fox who asked if they knew where they were going. They didn’t so the fox led them right to his home and the three never made it out. Moral of the story? Don’t panic, overreact, believe everything you’re told. “The sky is falling.”
But if we take to heart the words of our text, the reality is, the sky will be falling. How do you feel about that? Is it something to panic about? Is it something to worry about? Should we be filled with fear and spread mass hysteria like Chicken Little?
There are several ways that people can react to Judgment Day. You could choose not to believe it, ignore it, and pretend like it will never happen. Live your life with reckless abandon, eat, drink, and be merry. But then you’ll be rudely awakened to the reality when the sky does fall and everything you know of and everything in which your life consists is torn away from you. Or you could believe that Judgment Day is coming and live in fear for that day – scared of losing everything in your life, scared of what God might say to you, scared of what that day will be like. Or, there’s another way to live in view of the Last Day and that’s the way God encourages us to live in this text.
If a ship is going to survive a storm, it needs an anchor. Well, in a way, every life needs an anchor as well. Every life needs something to put hope in. To trust in to withstand life’s storms. There are many options available, but there’s only one anchor that will hold a person fast on the final storm, the last storm, on the Last Day. For many of the Jews their anchor was the physical, visible temple building in Jerusalem. The purpose of the temple in the OT was to be a symbol of how God lives among His people. The purpose of the temple was fulfilled when God took on human flesh, when Jesus walked and lived among His people. But many who rejected Jesus turned the temple into a sort of idol. The thought was, “As long as we have the temple, we’re good. We have nothing to fear, because we have the temple.” So on Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus and his disciples were leaving the temple and the disciples commented, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” And they were! But then Jesus delivers a shocker, “Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” In other words, one day this temple – in which so many people foolishly place their trust – will be destroyed. (About 40 years later in 70 AD, what Jesus predicted came true, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, totally destroying the temple.) And then Jesus went on to describe not just when the temple would be destroyed, but what the temple’s destruction would be a foreshadow of- the world’s Last Day, Judgment Day. And the signs of the Last Day’s coming are many: wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, earthquakes and famines, persecution for believers, families torn apart by hate and violence, false teachers will come to deceive many, but the gospel will be preached to all nations and those who stand firm to the end will be saved.
And then Jesus describes the Last Day: “But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’” So, the sky will fall. Can you imagine this? The sun not shining? It’s like God is going to flip the light switch and the sun is going to turn off. And of course then the moon is going to quit reflecting light from the sun. The billions of stars that fill our universe will fall. The heavenly bodies, maybe referring to planets or just a sum of all the things in the sky will be shaken. In other words, the world and everything we’ve come to know of it will change.
But one thing that won’t change is Jesus. Jesus, the Son of Man will come. “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Just like Jesus ascended into heaven with clouds, He will come again with the clouds, He will come with great power and glory, the light of that day will only come from Him. And everyone will see him. And then He’s going to do something, “And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” The Lord Jesus with His hosts upon hosts and armies upon armies of angels will appear and every single believer in Jesus will be found, all the elect, all those whom God chose as His even before He created the world, will be found. Whether your body was buried at sea, your ashes spread into the wind, or your body lying in a coffin, Jesus will find your body and take you home body and soul forever. What an awesome day to look forward to when the sky is falling.
What’s your anchor in life? For many Jews it was the temple, but they lost that in 70 AD. What is it for many people today? Maybe their anchor is in wealth or possessions- as long as I have them, I’m going to be ok in life. Maybe someone’s anchor is in health and fitness- as long as I’m healthy, I’m ok. Or maybe someone’s anchor is in their job – as long as I have my job, I’m ok. Or maybe someone’s anchor is their popularity or success- as long as I have that, I’m ok. Or maybe the anchor is in family and friends – as long as I still have my loved ones, I’ll be ok. Or maybe for some their anchor is found in America, as long as America is around, I’ll be ok.
But what does Jesus tell us? It’s all falling apart! The sky is falling. There will come a time when something as dependable as the sun is just going to quit shining any more, when the moon isn’t going to be seen anymore, when the stars that seem so fixed in their locations are going to fall from the sky. And if those things are going to go away, anything in life can go away. Wealth, possessions, health, job, America, and, yes, as many of us know all too well – family, friends, loved ones.
At the root of all fear is loss. What causes fear? I’m afraid that I’m going to LOSE something or someone. I couldn’t possibly go on living if I didn’t have _________. I don’t know what I would do if I lost ___________. We attach ourselves so much to different things or people. At the root of fear is loss. I could be afraid of losing my job, afraid of losing my savings, afraid of losing my health, afraid of losing a loved one, afraid of losing a spouse, afraid of losing the world as I know it. But there is only one sure anchor in life and that’s Jesus. Being ready for the end means being ready to lose everything except Jesus.
You see, Jesus lost everything so that we could have everything. God doesn’t fake anything. We, humans, can fake all kinds of things – God doesn’t. When Jesus was the on the cross God didn’t just fake punish Him, He really punished Him. In fact, we could say that Jesus literally lost everything, he lost all the blessings of God on the cross. God forsook Him. God turned His back on Him in anger. Why? Because on the cross Jesus became the worst sinner of all. On the cross Jesus took upon Himself every wretched, filthy, rotten, disgusting thought, word, and action that you’ve ever had or did. He lost all God’s blessings. He suffered hell itself – the absence of the blessings of God. He lost it all.
And we need to answer why. Why did Jesus lose it all? He lost it all, so that you could have it all. Since God doled out His punishment against your sin on Jesus, there’s nothing left to punish you for! You didn’t ask for it or request it, but in Christ God lost every reason to punish you.
And I’m not talking about temporary things. We too easily set our sights way too low. Our lives don’t consist in things, our lives don’t consist in money or wealth, our lives don’t even consist in our relationships with family or friends! In fact, our lives don’t consist here at all! Our true life is in heaven, that’s where our true citizenship is!
The sky might fall, the stars will disintegrate, the sun will lose its power to shine, the moon go dark, but what’s it to you? You have the one sure anchor in all of eternity – Christ Jesus, your Savior. And one day He will return with all power and glory and bring with him all your loved ones who found in Him the one true, lasting hope in all of life!
This week, as you think about loved ones who’ve died in the Lord, as you think about the things of your life and the affairs of the world, be comforted, Jesus is coming and He WILL bring you and all believers to your real home in heaven!