Lift Up Your Heads (Luke 21:25-36)

Text:  Luke 21:25-36

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

On the first Sunday of Advent we examined a typical Palm Sunday text that focused on Jesus coming into Jerusalem.  Last week for the second Sunday of Advent we looked at John the Baptist.  Tonight, we are looking at a text that focuses on the End Times.  Wow, what on earth do all these passages have in common and why are we looking at them during this Advent Season?  Well, let me take a moment to explain.

The text for the first Sunday of Advent was a declaration that Jesus came to mankind.  It was a declaration for us to remember that as we approach December 24 and December 25 that the Messiah, who was promised from the Old Testament long ago, came to mankind.  The first Sunday of Advent was a declaration that the heavens were ripped open and that the Messiah approached mankind and dwelt among us.  The second Sunday of Advent reminds us that repentance is something that needs to happen to us, so that we might properly receive the coming Savior.  Tonight our text is focusing on the idea of lifting up our heads, staying awake, and being ready, for redemption is drawing near. 

Yes, redemption is drawing near to us!  As we approach December 24th and December 25 we know that Jesus came to us some 2,000 years ago in a manger.  Redemption drew near to us in a manger.  However, keep in mind though that Jesus has promised that He will come back a ‘second’ time at the end of the age.  Indeed there are two comings of Jesus; the first as a babe in the manger and the second in power and glory.  What this means is that just as the people of the Old Testament lived in expectation, lifting their heads up and waiting for redemption to draw near to them that first Christmas some 2,000 years ago, it is no different for us here and now in the twenty-first-century; we lift our heads and live in expectation of Jesus’ second coming. 

This whole Advent season is a time of expectancy.  Yes, we journey along in this season of Advent knowing that we will eventually hear the news at our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Services that a child was born in Bethlehem and we simultaneously live in expectancy knowing that Jesus has indeed promised that He will come again.  This Advent Season is a time where we eagerly sit forward on our chairs, attentive to the coming Messiah.

So, my friends what happens when we lift our heads here and now and live in expectancy?  What happens when we soberly are awake and anticipate the coming of Christ?  What do we see?  We see the intensity of Christmas abounding around us.  We see gifts, Christmas Cards, Christmas decorations, and so forth.  However, as we peer through these seasonal festivities we unfortunately see many unpleasant pictures of events that take place in our world.  We see events that show that our created world has been torn apart by sin.  We witness tidal waves, earth quakes, hurricanes, storms, wars, bloodshed, and so forth. All of these unpleasant events cause us to ask, “What shall we make of the distresses, calamities, natural disasters and war right now?”  Scripture says that these events are nothing more than birth pains, if you will, of the current status and approaching of the end.

For myself, I find it depressing to watch the world news.  Other times the events of the world bring me terror and anxiety, especially as a father to my children.  Indeed, when one looks to the events of the world and anticipates the end of earth events described in our Gospel text, as well as in books like Revelation, anxiety certainly sets in.  An anxiety sets in that comes from our inability to solve or control the calamities of life.  This is an anxiety that comes forth when we are faced with something so overwhelming that we don’t know what to do to escape it, control it, or manage it.  Indeed these calamities will take place at the end of the age and they are certainly taking place right now. 

My friends, are you anxious today as you lift your head up and live in anticipation?  I am.  The catastrophic events of the world produce a fright in me and an utter loss of not knowing what to do.  It is like my heart gets held in a vice.  How about you?  Lift up your heads and look around, are you anxious?

Surprisingly, our text declares to us that we do not need to be weighed down and distracted by the cares and events of this life, especially in this Advent Season.  The reason why? These unpleasant events that are taking place right now and will take place at the end of the world are signs.  Yes, signs.  They are like the budding of a fig tree; a sign of new summer and a sign of renewal.  You see, even though in this life the catastrophic signs point to an end, destruction, and despair, they actually grant us assurance.  Assurance?  Yes, assurance.  These signs testify to us that there is something pleasant in store for us; the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  You see, Jesus in our text from the Gospel of Luke is telling us that these events will drive us to look elsewhere for hope.  In other words, as believers in Christ we don’t deny, underestimate, or dismiss the events of the world, rather we believe, teach, and confess that the tragedies of the world are evidence of our world’s brokenness, that things are not the way they are supposed to be.  Indeed these catastrophic signs are not the way that things are supposed to be or originally were in the Garden of Eden.  Thus, these events cause us to lift up our heads to the context of Christ, that He is coming back for you and me to make things right. 

As I previously mentioned, the chaotic events of life are like the pains of a woman in child-birth.  Indeed, it is like creation is groaning as if it is in child-birth.  We too groan inwardly from the pains and the anguish of life.  But like child-birth we believe, teach, confess, and know that the pains are signs of the approaching new-birth; the approaching of the kingdom of redemption and salvation of Christ. 

Therefore, my friends take comfort!  Lift up your heads, for Christ came 2,000 years ago and will indeed come again for you and me.  Jesus came as a servant in the manger, but Scripture says that He is coming again as a King at the end of time.  Lift up your heads, for Christ is coming with Great Power and Great Glory.  He is coming to set things right, to judge the living and the dead.  Lift up your heads, the world will be burnt up, refined that is, and the evil one will be cast into the lake of fire.  Lift up your heads, for there will indeed be a glorious resurrection where we will be given resurrected bodies.  Lift up your heads, for Jesus is coming to wipe away every tear and death shall be no more. Lift up your heads for there will be no more mourning, crying, and no more pain!  All things will be made anew!  Lift up your heads and live with an expectancy for indeed Jesus is coming back to judge the world, but you will not be judged for your sins, for your sins have already been judged and damned upon Christ.   Lift up your heads, for your Lord and King has drawn near to you bringing you full and complete salvation.  Lift up your heads.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.