Sun, 1 September 2019
(1Thes.4:13-18; Ps.96:1,3-5,11-13; Lk.4:16-30)
“He comes to rule the earth.”
He is coming, and has come. He set us free from the prison of sin when first He came, and will set us free from death when He comes again and “we shall be with the Lord unceasingly.”
In our gospel we read of His first coming “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives…” Fulfilling the words of the prophets, He brought “a year of favor from the Lord,” to heal all those who waited for His coming, who trusted in His word. And though even as His hometown of Nazareth rejected Him and His truth and led Him to “the brow of the hill” to be cast down, so all would turn their backs on Him and deliver Him up for crucifixion; yet His death was not the end and His life was not fruitless. In His walking the earth He brought light into the darkness and in His bleeding on the cross provided means for its fulfillment.
And on the day when He comes again, death shall indeed be banished, darkness will be no more, for “God will bring forth with Him from the dead those who have fallen asleep believing in Him” and “we, the living, the survivors, will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” This the apostle Paul makes quite clear. As Jesus “died and rose,” so will all who believe in Him do the same: what was brought to us in His first coming – the light to the nations – will be made complete in His second coming in a year of favor that has no end.
And of both of these comings our psalm does sing, for both are gloriously triumphant: “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice, let the sea and what fills it resound…” All creation glories in the coming of God; in His holy presence it finds its fulfillment. Forever it has longed to be joined with Him, and when first He came as man, it rejoiced to see Him; and when He comes “from heaven at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet” as the Son of God in all His glory, its joy and its song will know no bounds. For then “He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with His constancy”: the world shall never again be moved from His way of truth and light, and neither shall we. Rejoice at His coming, brothers and sisters, and live in His light.
O LORD, you come to save us,
and so we should not be afraid –
through all tribulation you lead us home.
YHWH, let us sing you a new song on the day of your coming, on the day of your Son’s return. For then His glory will fill the sky and all the dead will rise. O let us be in the number of those who are with you unceasingly! From all darkness may we forever be set free.
When Jesus came to walk among us, to speak to us your marvelous words, to proclaim liberty to all held captive by sin, then we should have rejoiced at His presence and entered the glory of His reign. But we crucified Him instead. He came to bring glad tidings to poor souls, to open our eyes that we might see once again – but we closed our hearts and fixed Him to a cross. O LORD, let your favor be upon us now especially, that we might be saved from such sin.
We wish to rejoice with your holy ones, O God, to praise your NAME to the heavens. Let us listen now to the words of your Son and set our hearts on them.