Getting Your Days Mixed Up
We all have gotten our days mixed up. We think it's Saturday when it's really Friday. We go to an appointment a day early or late. Jesus puts before us the problem of getting the days (plural) of the Son of Man mixed up with the day (singular) of the Son of Man. When you do this you don't miss appointments but comfort.
Jesus says it's not the day of the Son of Man. You know how people say, "It's not the end of the world"? Well, it's not. This is not the day when the Son of Man returns visibly. You won't be able to miss that day. Jesus likens it to the lightening that goes cloud to cloud spreading across the whole sky. You can miss a cloud to ground lightening strike, but no one misses lightening that lights up the entire sky.
It won't be as people sometimes wonder: Maybe Jesus has returned already and they locked Him up in a mental hospital because no one believed Him. Nope, "His day will be like the lightening which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other." It will be that obvious, and it will be glorious. Jesus came the first time hidden under the humility of a poor carpenter family. He came the first time with no halos, no glowing, no visible angelic bodyguard. At His first coming He was easily despised, rejected, ridiculed, and abused. Not so on the day of the Son of Man.
The picture you ought to have is that of Revelation 1. John says he saw "One like the Son of ManHis head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of many watersout of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength."
On that day it won't be necessary to say, "Here He is" or "There He is" because everybody will see Him. No one will be able to miss Him. No one will debate if it's Jesus. No one will say, "That's just your opinion," Or, "That's true for you." Or, "I don't believe it's Him." No, on that day every knee will bow, every tongue confess both on the earth, above the earth, and below the earth that Jesus Christ is God to the glory of God the Father." On the day of the Son of Man, we will all do what John did when he saw Jesus in Revelation. We will fall at His feet as dead men.
But today is not that day. Today He is veiled in Water, Words, Wine and Bread. Today most of the world not only doesn't bow or kneel before Him at this altar, most of the world and many Christians deny He's here at all. The same goes for the Waters of Baptism and the Words of Absolution. Most of the world denies the Son of Man is in, with, and under them. They can do that because He is that hidden, that veiled. They can do that because today is not the day of the Son of Man, and that's a good thing.
What? Don't we pray every day "The kingdom come?" Don't we pray every meal, "Come Lord Jesus?" Don't we with the souls under the altar of God cry out, "How long O Lord?" Yes, yes and yes, but the day of the Son of Man according to Jesus in this text is like the day when the Flood "destroyed them all." It's like the day fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and "destroyed them all." It's the day of Noah when 8 not even 10 we're saved. It's the day of Lot when 3 not even 5 were saved.
Unlike the millennialists who say Jesus gives a 1,000 year warning before the world ends, we have no more warning then these last 3 Sundays of the Church Year and Advent. Unlike the Catholics who think their loved ones go to a purgatory where they have some future hope of being saved, we are faced with the finality of the day of the Son of Man. It's the door of the ark being shut for good and no ark bangers, no pleaders, no promisers to change will be let it.
The world today gets no more warning than in Noah's day. 2 Peter says Noah was a preacher of righteousness. The only warning the world gets, the only warning you get are sermons: boring, tedious, sermons. I know what you're thinking: so the only warning that billions of Chinese halfway around the world get is your sermon? You must not read the prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel warn pagan countries, kings, and people that are world's away. Their sermons weren't heard or read by them. Yet their sermons were the only warning God ever gave them of the judgment coming upon them. So our world is warned of the Day of Judgment by sermons they never hear or read, and thankfully for their sake, thankfully for the sake of all those not ready, today is not that day. But these are the days of the Son of Man.
Don't get confused here. Jesus does say to us disciples: "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days (plural) of the Son of Man, but you will not see it." The point is not that these days are not here at all. The point is the same one that He made to the Pharisees: "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation." What's not here is the day of the Son of Man. What is here are the days. That's what Jesus says, "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of ManIt was the same in the days of Lot."
These are the days of the Son of Man although the world doesn't live like or act like it. Just as it was in the days of Noah and Lot so it is the days of the Son of Man: During those days people were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage. During those days people were buying and selling, planting and building. They were oblivious to the approaching day when the Flood would come, when fire and sulfur would rain from the sky. So it is now. People think now is a time to be consumed by the things of this world; now is a time to be focused on here and now. Things can only get better; these are days of prosperity and growth; in reality these are the days of the Son of Man.
People miss that these are the days of Son of Man because He and His kingdom are hidden, and only those hidden in Him can see Him. Only those who have been saved by the Son of Man being rejected and suffering many things the first time He came can see Him now. Only those who have stood at the foot of the cross and confessed the beaten, bloody, dead Man to be their Lord and God can see His Body under the weakness and suffering of His Church in these days. Only those who see that His suffering and rejection by God and men the first time He came were because He bore the sins of the world can embrace the suffering and rejection He still has in the world in these days.
The kingdom is most certainly here in these days but it doesn't come with observation. You can't point, "There it is" or "Here it is," but it is no less here. It's in the preaching of this Word. It's in that Baptismal font. It's on this Altar. The kingdom's here because the King is. Men will tell you that King Jesus is in growing, successful, big things. Jesus is in auditoriums packed to the rafters with hymn singing Christians. Jesus is in bold movements to do things for Him. Jesus is in good families, successful marriages. I'm telling you that in this world, in these days of the Son of Man: Jesus is under the same cross, the same shame, the same humility He was at His first coming. In these days, He's under weakness not strength, sickness not health, dying not living.
It will not always be this way; there's a day coming when we will see Him as John saw Him in Revelation: In power and might, in glory and light. But today is not that day. In these days, He can only be seen where He has promised to be: Not just in Baptism, Absolution, and Communion but in the suffering of His people, in the weakness of His people, in the lowly Church the world scorns.
However, this weakness, this hiddenness of the Son of Man in these days is not cause for despair. The days (plural) of the Son of Man as opposed to the day (singular) of the Son of Man are days of salvation. That's the contrast Jesus is driving home in this text. The days of Noah and Lot were days of salvation, but the day Noah entered into the ark and the day Lot left Sodom were both days of judgment.
You are living in days of salvation. Don't be distracted, caught up, swept away by the eating and drinking, the building and planting, the buying and selling. Don't be fooled by the siren song the mighty world hums in your ears: "This will go on forever; these days will never end. Soul you have much stored up for many days so eat, drink, and be merry."
Don't be a fool. These are the days to confess your sins for there will come a time a day when no confessions will be heard. These are the days to admit that you can't stand on the Day of Judgment in your own goodness, in your own excuses, in your own promises to do better. These are the days to come out of the world that is being swept away by material life having no idea that it is about to be swept away by judgment. These are the days to break with the brazen sinfulness of Sodom and flee as this angel of the Lord is directing you before fire and sulfur rain from the heavens destroying all.
These are the days of the Son of Man. These are the days when He is here for salvation not judgment, for forgiving not condemning, for all not merely for some. It's not to late now. I can't say it's never too late for there comes a day when it will be too late. On the day of the Son of Man it will be too late. When He comes for us all or when He comes for just you, on that day it will be too late. But that day is not today, it may be tomorrow, it may be tonight, but right now the ark is open. Baptismal waters for salvation are not flood waters for judgment; Words to forgive are not sentences to hell; Body and Blood to eat and drink for life are not fire and sulfur to punish for eternity. This is not the Day of Judgment; this is one of those days for being saved. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Third-Last Sunday in the Church Year (2007111); Luke 17: 20-30