Lift Up Your Head...

1)    Text: Luke 21:25-36
"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,  (26)  people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  (27)  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  (28)  Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."  (29)  And he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.  (30)  As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near.  (31)  So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.  (32)  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place.  (33)  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  (34)  "But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.  (35)  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  (36)  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

2)    For We Do Not Need To Be Weighed Down/Distracted By The Cares Of This Life. (vs. 25-26 & 34)
a.    In verses 25-26 Jesus talks about signs of the end of the world.  Cosmic events of eclipses and comets; earthly events such as storms, tidal waves, etc…  It is as if creation is torn apart.  There will be world-wide confusion from these events.  The world will be in confusion and this confusion will lead to fear. 
b.    As we look to this somewhat unpleasant picture of events to take place toward the end of the world we can see them as signs, like a budding of a fig tree… signs of a new summer, signs of a renewal!  Even thought in this life they point to an end, destruction, despair, they technically grant us assurance that there is something pleasant in store for us; the arrival of the Kingdom of God.
c.    As we ponder Luke 21:8-11 we can see that many of these events occur in our present day.  In the midst of these events they will drive us to look elsewhere for hope, ultimately to the throne of grace for hope in the eternal King and Judge, Christ.
d.    Every sign which points to the end of the world and which fills the heart of unbelievers with terror should bring hope and joy to the hearts of believers.   
e.    Fear, Fright and Apprehension of Looking to Current Events:
                                  i.    The word translated “distress” denotes anxiety of mind - such an anxiety as people have when they do not know what to do to free themselves from calamities; and it means here that the calamities would be so great and overwhelming that they would not know what to do to escape. There would be a want of counsel, and deep anxiety at the impending evils
                                ii.    The events at the second coming will produce a fright like no other; an utter loss of not knowing what to do.  Hearts will be held in a vice.
f.     Drowning of Troubles by Substance Abuse:
                                  i.    The temptation for us is to follow the ways of the sinful world and hope to find relief from our troubles in drunkenness or the abuses of substances to numb the troubles of life. 
g.    Weighed down by the Distractions of Life (Matthew 6:25):
                                  i.    We may find ourselves full of worry about the things of this life, the cares of the world.
                                ii.    These things may be a distraction to us, and many times pull our eyes off of the hope of the cross.
                               iii.    It isn’t the dulling effect of substance abuse that is stressed but the load and the weight upon the hearts which prevent people from attending to watching and to prayer.
h.    Perhaps… to many people the thought of Christ’s coming seems very far away.  It hasn’t happened for a period of two thousand years.  Yet his coming is not really so far away from each individual person.  Our own time of judgment takes place when we die (Hebrews 9:27).
i.      All these signs proclaim and say that the kingdom of God is near.  That we will be free from this body of sin and death.  That the earth will be folded up, burnt up and refined in the Glory of God. 
j.      But why can we lift our heads and have comfort?  Why do we not need to be troubled by the chaotic events, the birth pains if you will (Romans 8:18-ff), of the current status and approaching judgment?  The reason being… as believers in Christ we don’t deny, underestimate, or dismiss the events of the world rather we can lift up our heads to the context of Christ… as we look to Christ we can then see the Judgment day and the calamities of life in an appropriate way and context. 

3)    For Jesus is Coming with Power and Great Glory (v. 27)
a.    Our text and scriptures say that Jesus will not be coming back in a form of a servant.  He will not be despised and rejected.  He will come as a King “In a cloud of power and great glory.”  (Note:  Daniel 7:13)
b.    John the Baptist in Matthew  11:3 sent disciples to question Jesus if he was the Messiah or if they should be expecting another one.  You see, the Old Testament prophesied a Messiah who was to come in Judgment and Grace, Law and Gospel, Ruling and Healing….  However, all that John saw was a Messiah of Grace and Healing.  Therefore, he sent disciples to find out if they should be expecting a another Messiah, one who would come with Judgment. 
c.    In Christ, His first advent (arrival) was an arrival of redemption and grace.  His second advent (coming) will be one of Judgment.  Jesus came as a servant in 4 BC, born in a manger, but he is coming again as a King at the end of time.  He is coming with Great Power and Great Glory.  He is coming to set things right, to judge the living and the dead.   The world will be burnt up, refined, the evil one will be cast into the lake of fire. 
d.    Jesus will wipe away every tear, death shall be no more, there will be no more mourning, crying, no more pain for this world will be no more.   All things will be made new!
e.    Who is Our Judge?
                                  i.    Acts 17:31 ~ he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
                                 ii.    John 5:22  The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
                                iii.    The Judge at the Second Coming Is ‘Jesus’ 
                               iv.    And by Grace through Faith Jesus what?  He justifies us…  declares not guilty.
                                v.    Christ who comes in Great Power and Glory to Judge the world will not judge us for our sins have already been judged upon him.
                               vi.    LET US LIFT UP OUR HEADS!

4)    For Our Redemption is Drawing Near (v. 28)
a.    Every sign which points to the end of the world and which fills the hearts of unbelievers with terror should bring hope and joy to the hearts of believers.  They lift up their heads in expectation.  “Why?”  They know that their ‘redemption is drawing near. 
b.    Romans 8:22-23 cleverly paints the picture of creation groaning as if it was in child-birth.   We too groan inwardly from the pains and the anguish of life…  these groaning are compaired to the pains of childbirth.
c.    In other words….  With the pains of life, the groaning of creation points us forward to a future deliverance, the approaching kingdom of redemption and salvation in Christ.  The pains of life point us forward to the final redemption in Christ.  The hope of restoration, renewal, etc…  Let Us Lift Up Our Heads!

5)    For the Word of Jesus Stands Forever (v. 33)
a.    Jesus clearly states in verse 33 that all material things will perish.  However, he grants us assurance that His word is everlasting. 
b.    He states in a double negative (ou me) that His word will never ever  pass away.  The double negative strengthens the negative tone and the seriousness of this statement.
c.    The words of Jesus will stand eternally.  Every word of his will be fulfilled to the ultimate reality, and stand forever.  The perishing of the world cannot effect or affect the promises of divine scripture.  The calamities of the earth, the final judgment, the refining of the earth cannot change, condition, impact the certainty of Jesus’ word that all is finished in Him…  that our sins are forgiven, that death has been defeated, that Satan is finished.  LET US LIFT UP OUR HEADS!

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