2nd Sunday in Advent (B)
II Peter 3:8-14
December 6, 2020
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Epistle from II Peter.
A common premise of movies since the 1950’s has been the destruction of modern society by earthquakes, aliens, viruses, nuclear weapons, asteroids, and of course zombies. These movies are farfetched, and most of us aren’t concerned about the threats they portray. Since we’re not worried we don’t spend a lot of time preparing.. Then again, there are doomsday survivalists who stockpile gas, food, guns, medical supplies because they take the threat of cataclysmic events extremely seriously. Even though these survivalists may seem a little over the top at times, Christians can, to a certain degree, follow their example. The difference is that while they’re preparing for something they think will happen, we’re preparing for something we know will happen: the return of Christ Jesus. Like the two different reactions to the possibility of movies coming to life, there are two different reaction to the return of Jesus, and both of them have eternal consequences.
A few verses before the Epistle for today, Peter condemns those who mock Christ’s promise to return because it hasn’t happened yet. I know Christians don’t mock the return of Jesus, I think though that the return of Jesus isn’t something they give a lot of thought to. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But, if you think that Christ’s return is so far off you don’t have to worry about it, you’re wrong. If you think you have plenty of time to repent and to take your faith seriously, you’re wrong. To prepare is to repent of your sins, to put God first in every aspect of your life. Not fourth, third, or second; first. It’s a deadly error with eternal consequences to think that you can get ready for Jesus’ return at your leisure. You cannot begin to prepare when it’s more convenient or when you have more time or when you think it’s time or when you retire or when the kids move out or when you get married. Besides, even if you aren’t alive to see Christ coming on the clouds with His angels, when you die, He’s returned for you. And since Jesus says that day could come like a thief in the night we must prepare. Peter says Christians who are prepared live in holiness and godliness, while those who don’t think about the things of God are unprepared. They’re not looking at what matters, they’re focusing on earthly things, the kinds of things that will all be destroyed one day.
And this is one of Peter’s main points! Jesus is coming back, and He’s going to come back when He has decided the time is right. Peter says, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” In other words, don’t be lulled because you think God’s dragging His feet. Time is nothing to Him and He’s going to return just as He has promised, and when He does everything is going to be changed in an instant.
Peter says, “The heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” Nothing on earth will remain; earth won’t remain. So why in the world, why in the soon to be destroyed world, would Christians put so much value on earthly things that aren’t going to exist anymore? Why do Christians adopt the ways, beliefs, and attitudes of the non-Christians who will likewise be destroyed? Everything in our world that conflicts with God is going to be exposed for what they are, evil and worthless and then they’re going to cease to exist. The things will cease to exist, while those who are unprepared and unbelieving will continue to exist in eternal torment.
That the unprepared would suffer eternally pains our Lord so much that while the world is full of hardship, He delays His return. God finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked and He wants all to know the salvation that comes through Christ Jesus. Peter puts it this way, “The Lord is…patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Repentance is confessing our sins and trusting that because of His death, Christ forgives us. Through the power of Holy Baptism and the faith that we are given, we’re diligent, we make every effort to live holy and blameless lives. We do this through continual repentance and renewal that are achieved by focusing on Christ and not on the sinful world that surrounds us. You know what Jesus is also saying right? Now is the time to share with others that now is the time to repent and to know the truth of Jesus and the Gospel. We should make use of the opportunities to witness to Jesus and keep these people in our prayers that they would know the joy of Christ’s return.
The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday.” Emerson is being a little overdramatic, and yet there’s truth to what he wrote. We Christians must not forget that every day is a day to be prepared. Not for doomsday, that term is so pessimistic, instead we prepare for a glorious day. We prepare because we never know when it’s going to come. Only God knows, so just as we prepare for bedtime by locking our doors to protect against the thief, so also we prepare our hearts.
The best preparation we can make, second to repentance is longing for Christ’s return. Peter says we are to wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God by following the example of the Old Testament saints. Saints like Abraham and Sarah, David, and Simeon and Anna who kept their eyes fixed on the promise of the Savior. They trusted God’s promises and they didn’t waver because they knew He would act when the time was right. This should be our attitude as well. God is faithful to all His promises, so we trust Him and we look forward to the day that Christ comes.
Everything we do is focused on Jesus and His return. We wait expectantly and anxiously because we know that when He comes, everything’s going to be different. We’re going to be delivered from this sinful world. All the pain, all the difficulties, all the sin that affects us will be burned up and dissolved with a roar. Until that day we trust Christ’s timeline and live repentantly so that when He comes we will be diligently living as His people. Not because we have such great willpower, but because through our forgiveness we are made new and righteous and we are made prepared for the last great day before eternity.
Doomsday survivalists are stocked up and ready for anything that could happen, and yet there is no way to physically get ready for Jesus’ return. Food, gas, and guns won’t help those who are spiritually unprepared. To be prepared means that we eagerly look forward to Jesus’ return by repenting of our sins, living as His people though His Holy Spirit and knowing the joy that awaits us. His return won’t be a day of doom, it’ll be a day of joy for He will come to transfer us from this sinful world to a new and perfect world where there days will be like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day and all will be spent in the presence of God.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen