I stand humbly before you in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Please God let this message be Your Words and not mine, in JESUS Name. Amen.
My wife and I love all things Disney, going to Disneyland and Disneyworld. Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia represent Walt Disney’s first three feature length animated films. Fantasia was released 81 years ago on this date (November 13, 1940). Fantasia is one of Disney’s most spiritual and religious films. Especially the ending sequence. Set to thunderous, powerful music, a huge, massive bat-winged demon awakens from the dark, atop a mountain. He holds sway over a horde of flying, dancing and horseback riding ghosts and lesser demons. Evil is gathering its forces to decimate the world. But then something startles the monstrous dark angel.
Church bells. The demon and his army look terrified and cover their faces. The army of hell retreats as Ave Maria starts to play. The demon leader wraps himself in his wings and humbly disappears back into the dark mountain. The original ending would have focused on a stained-glass window with the virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. Walt Disney even penned a special verse for the end of the Ave Maria.
The Prince of Peace your arms embrace,
while hosts of darkness fade and cower,
Oh, save us Mother full of grace
in life, and in our dying hour, Ave Maria!
But none of this was included. Walt Disney was Christian but had a tremendous respect for other religions, so he was fine with Christian values in his films, but he avoided mentions of God and the church and focused on the power of dreams. Of course, in a few movies God did sneak in there. Snow White and the seven dwarves, The Rescuers, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and of course, The Prince of Egypt.
God continually does a lot more than sneak into our lives. Two-thousand years ago He invaded our history, our reality and changed everything. He then went back home BUT He will return.
Our first Gospel verse states, “He came out of the temple…” Let me stop right there for a moment. God just left the temple. The temple no longer has the presence of God. Jesus has left the building. Something we need to consider as we continue.
‘as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” ‘
This makes me think of entering the Disney parks. But even the Disney parks can’t compare to seeing the temple from Jesus’ day. Herod’s temple stood over 15 stories high and was made of white marble and gold. Yes, actual gold. The smallest stones used in this temple weighed over 2 tons and the larger ones exceeded 600 tons. It must have been a glorious sight. But what this disciple does not see is that the true Glory and Wonder has just walked away from the temple for the last time.
‘And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”’
Jesus was not disagreeing with His disciple and not annoyed by his attempt at friendly small talk. He was just expressing the importance of the moment. Jesus’ time with them was almost over. They needed some important information before He left so He is about to give them an answer to the most important question.
His disciples ask, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.’
Wars, earthquakes and famines are par for the course in our broken world. And Jesus does not give them the end times date that they sought. But He does give them and us the most important answer to the most important question like I mentioned earlier. The disciples are asking about the end of days before the coming Day of the Lord. And Jesus confirmed that it will indeed happen. Basically, the question is ‘Will Jesus Return?’ and Jesus answers with a big ‘YES!’ And when He returns there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind as to Who He is.
We can be easily led astray by ourselves and our own Gods. If you’re struggling with your faith, please pray to God to strengthen your faith and reach out to other Christians for fellowship and prayer partners. Share our Jesus and the Gospel, endure in our love and our Christianity.
Today could be the day of the Lord. First Corinthians tells us that Jesus will descend from His throne in the twinkling of an eye. The words used for this translates to an amount of time that cannot be measured because it is too small and too fast. A moment of time that cannot be cut in two because it is too short. Today could be the day. It could happen now, before we go home. Any second in a split second.
Are you ready? Jesus is ready. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible referring to the second advent of the Messiah. Many feel that the Book of Revelation is all about the second coming of Jesus but there’s only six verses in this book that address this ultimate event in Revelation 19.
‘Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.’
Two-thousand years ago He entered our reality as an embryo. He then came into our world humbly wrapped in swaddling and laid in a feeding trough for animals. He entered Jerusalem riding a donkey. When He returns He will be riding a white horse. The word translates to a large, powerful river horse. I’m assuming this will be the rushing river that comes from God’s throne, from His actual Presence. The River of Life mentioned in the Psalms and Revelation. An example of a river horse in our world is the Clydesdale. A Clydesdale is a war horse. Larger, stronger and more densely boned than most horses. Built for chaotic environments and harsh conditions. Now picture a horse larger than a Clydesdale that can fly. Jesus will be flying on this massive horse through a large rip in our reality. A rip that covers the expanse of our atmosphere. His eyes blazing like a great fire and wearing infinite crowns. More crowns than any king has worn before. His robe appears to be dipped in blood.
Dipped means it was already coated in blood. He shows up to the battle already soaked in blood. I believe this is His own blood! The blood of the Lamb! Jesus allowed Himself to be a faithful witness to death. Jesus took God’s wrath for us. Many say that this is the blood of God’s enemies. The way I see it is that God’s enemies are sin, evil and death. They have no blood as far as I know. I feel that the only blood that can be on the robes of God is innocent blood. All other blood would be vaporized by His Glory. Jesus, even in His Human Form, was innocent despite bearing the sins of ALL creation. Jesus bore God’s greatest enemies on the cross. His blood remained uncorrupted despite absorbing and vaporizing all sin.
The “Grapes of Wrath” are not a Steinbeck novel or a verse from a Battle Hymn. The “Grapes of Wrath” are Jesus. From the Book of Revelation, an angel is helping God transform the grapes of the wine press into the sin of the world. My belief is that God’s wrath treads upon these grapes. Jesus became those grapes, and the skin is His Body while the wine is His Blood. He was crushed for our iniquities.
We are God’s. There’s an apostrophe in that statement. We are His. He died for us and lives for us! We partake of His body and His blood. We must share His Gospel. We need to praise His Name and daily rejoice in His love. We are the new temple. We are the daily glimpses of His second coming. Life is not a magic kingdom, and our Disney dreams are empty and powerless without God.
Quick confession. I struggled with this sermon. My work has been very stressful lately and I almost let that excuse interfere with my faith and my church work. God’s Grace has pulled me through again and again. His Grace has re-energized my passion for serving Him and focusing on the privilege I have to serve my brothers and sisters.
This brings me to the most important warnings we get before the coming of the Lord. Listen to what Jesus adds from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. “Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building…” and in Matthew we read, “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark…”
It doesn’t sound so bad right? During those days you would think that there were bigger sins people were committing that God would be upset about. Especially in Sodom and Gomorrah, right? But these warnings are not for them. They are for God’s people. A warning for us. For Christians. Some questions to consider. Is it obvious that we’re Christians? Is God an obvious part of our daily lives? Should we be indifferent, or should we be making a difference? Again, should we be indifferent, or should we be making a difference? Please, prayerfully give this last question some serious thought when you go home.
Our Gospel ends with Jesus saying, ‘But the one who endures to the end will be saved.’ We need to endure. We need to read His Holy Word. We need to stand firm even in the midst of this sinful and broken world. We cannot hide our God, our church or our Gospel Light. We were not born to be children of this world. We are born to be Children of God. Children of eternity. Our entire lives need to be devoted to God and His advent. Daily prepared in joyful expectation of His coming. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done. Amen, Come Lord Jesus! Amen.