First Sunday in Advent – November 27, 2016 - Matthew 24: 36-44 – Pastor D. Ninmer
“But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when the Son of Man returns. In fact, in the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the very day that Noah entered the ark. And they did not realize what was coming until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man returns.” (Matthew 24:36-39)
What if I told you today that I know exactly when Judgment Day is coming? What if I told you that I know the very day and the hour and the minute and even the very second that Jesus will return? Would you pay good money to receive that information? Down through the years many different people have claimed to have this knowledge. Of course they have all been wrong. Some of them made good money doing it.
The sad part about it is that there are many passages in the Bible which tell us that no one knows. There is no clearer passage than the first word of our text. Listen again as the Lord tells us: But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father!
That is clear, isn’t it? No one knows. Just to be sure the Lord added: not even the angels in heaven. We can understand why the angels would not know. What surprises us is the statement: nor the Son. Why did Jesus not know? Well, we know the answer to that. When Jesus came to live on this earth, starting with His conception in the Virgin Mary, He humbled Himself. He lived in a state of humiliation.
The Catechism is very good in describing this. His humiliation means He did not always or fully use His divine power. Think about that. He is the Son of God as well as being true man. But while He lived here He did not always use His divine power. You see that on the cross. What chance would they have had to crucify Him if He had used His diving power? The answer to that is: No chance!
He allowed them to spit on Him and beat Him. He was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Even today we would think that this was a humbling experience. Think about what it was for the Son of God. Part of that humiliation was that He did not always use His divine power and knowledge. As true God He knew when Judgment Day was coming just as He knew when His death was coming. As true man He did not use that divine knowledge.
So it was that He could say: Nor the Son, but only the Father. And for good reason! What would have happened if Jesus had said, I know, but I am not telling? What do people do when someone says, I have a secret but I am not telling? I know what you are getting for Christmas, but I am not telling? So it was that Jesus could say, Nor the Son.
The point is that He said: IT IS COMING!! IT IS COMING!! He uses a good picture that they could all understand and which you and I today understand: Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when the Son of Man returns. They all knew about the flood. They may have forgotten why it happened or what meaning they should get from it, but they knew about the flood.
Jesus reminds them: In fact, in the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the very day that Noah entered the ark. Does that remind you of things that are going on in the world today? We might change the wording a little, but we can say of this Advent season that people will be eating and drinking (often heavy on the drinking), and buying and wrapping presents, and making plans for the new year, and saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, and emphasizing all kinds of things that do not lead people to Jesus.
You can fill in the blanks when you hear the words of Jesus: In fact in the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the very day that Noah entered the ark. You can also add the words: And they did not realize what was coming until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man returns.
People will be doing all those things, not realizing what the true meaning of the season is. Christmas Day will come on them unawares, it will be filled with stress. The emphasis will be on food, drink and gifts. They will forget that the true meaning of the day is found in the hymn which urges us: Oh come, let us adore HIM!
What many will forget is the most powerful lesson of our text. When Jesus tells us to KEEP WATCH, He is not talking about Christmas. He is not saying: Make sure you carefully prepare everything for Christmas Day. He is saying this: Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when the Son of Man returns. They did not realize what was coming until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man returns.
Some of us may not get to celebrate Christmas on this earth next year or maybe even this year. The Lord may call some of out of this world. It is true that it might be that all of us may not get to celebrate Christmas on this earth next year. The world may end – today, or Dec. 15 or Christmas Eve. We don’t know. But I the message of Jesus when He says KEEP WATCH is this. Make your plans for Christmas and plan to celebrate Christmas as if this might be your last here on earth!
What does that mean? I think two things. First make the hearing of God’s Word of most importance every day during the Advent Season, on Christmas Day and throughout the Christmas season. There you find the true meaning of the day and the season. It is not complicated. A child can understand it. God sent a Savior who would 33years later die on the cross for you sins.
The second thing is: Make sure that all of your celebrations this season are according to God’s Word. That is hard to do in a world which puts the emphasis on food and drink and crazy living. Make sure that all of your celebrations are according to God’s Word. In that way you are reminded that Christmas is coming. But more important than that is this you are reminded that the second coming of Christ is coming. So we say: KEEP WATCH. Make your preparations and live your life as if this might be your last Christmas on this earth – and it might be!