Just Wait . . .
5th Sunday in Lent
Just Wait . . .
Text: Romans 8:11-19
Just wait. Easier said than done. “’Daddy can I have some juice?’ ‘In a minute.’ ‘Can I have some juice now?’ ‘Just wait.’” “’Daddy, are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’ ‘Just wait!’” “’Mommy, is it time to open the Christmas presents? Can we? Can we? Can we?’ ‘Just wait!’” Children aren’t very good with patience.
But we aren’t either. “When am I finally going to get some vacation time?” “When am I going to get the results of that medical test back?” “When are you going to finish checking out my groceries at Walmart?” “When is our school going to hear back about our big grant request?” Just wait. Just wait. Just wait. In an age of cell phones and computers and GPS and high speed internet, waiting or patience is not often our strength.
Listen to the apostle Paul today. Listen to the Lord. Often times with God, the best is yet to come. So Just Wait.
If you thought Lent has been great so far, Just Wait. Lent is often a favorite time of the church year for many. This 40 day walk with Jesus toward Calvary is meaningful and meditative. The mood is quiet and subdued. The worship is joyous, yet reserved. Clearly and carefully we focus on Christ, his passion, his cross, and his victories. Oh, and the Wednesday night Lent suppers are delicious too!
Lent began in a very powerful way on Transfiguration Sunday. At the end of worship we formally said farewell to the word Alleluia. We are saving that word of praise for Easter morning as we meditate and repent during Lent. There was no mistaking that Lent had begun on Ash Wednesday. In a very powerful service we had vivid reminders of our sins. We worshiped in darkness. Black was worn and displayed. Ashes were used as a sign of mourning and repentance.
Some of you have been experiencing Lent for several decades. Others have now experienced Lent for the first time. All of us are experiencing it for the first time in our beautiful new church. Everyone I have talked to has enjoyed the solemn meditation and focus of Lent this year, both on Sundays and on Wednesdays. But if you thought Lent has been great so far, Just Wait.
Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. Next Sunday we will follow Jesus as he rides humbly into Jerusalem and is welcomed with praise and shouts of Hosanna. How quickly those shouts are lost during Holy Week. We will gather in worship and fellowship on Maundy Thursday, just as Jesus did with the 12 in the Upper Room. Then on Good Friday will be the culmination of Lent.
We will worship in darkness by candlelight. Black will be worn and displayed. We will pray. We will meditate. We will listen and watch as our Savior’s life slowly ebbs away until he gives it up in death.
On Ash Wednesday we began Lent by recalling our sinfulness. We pondered all the horrible things we have done. We found it almost beyond belief that we could do such things. Both small and great, minor and major, overt and covert, our sins are too many to number. On Ash Wednesday especially the reality came crashing down upon us again that we have disobeyed our God, we deserve his punishment, and death and dust are our destiny.
On Good Friday we will see the culmination of our sins. Hammers will pound nails to pierce Christ’s flesh. Jews and Romans and even passers-by will mock and taunt him. The sky will grow dark as all evil bears down on Christ. Every sin will be planted on his shoulders. All guilt will be heaped upon him. The fury of hell will torture him. Groans of agony will echo into the afternoon sky as the Father will abandon the Son. Then, the Christ will die—he will die because of our sin, to pay for our sin, and in place of us.
Good Friday is a day of sorrow and sadness. We mourn over his unimaginable physical pain. We mourn that he suffered sin, hell, and death. We mourn that our sins caused it. Yet Good Friday is also a day of joy. For on Calvary Christ accomplished something. Listen to Paul in verse 16: “The [Holy] Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
The sorrow and sadness of Good Friday is nearly overwhelming. Yet so also is its joy. Because Jesus died for us and paid for our sins, we are able to become God’s own children. God mercifully forgives all of our sins through Jesus and then brings us into his family through faith. Thus Paul says that if we are God’s children that means that we are also heirs. We are heirs of God and all of his blessings and co-heirs with Christ receiving honor and glory when we enter heaven. Everything that our Father has waiting for us is our inheritance because of the redemptive life and death of Jesus. If you thought Lent has been great so far, Just Wait. Good Friday is coming!
If you thought Lent and Good Friday are great and meaningful, Just Wait. Easter is coming! What an incredible day of worship that will be! What a difference—when darkness turns to light, when black turns to white, and when we belt out the opening hymn, Jesus Christ is Risen Today . . . Well I’ll wait for Easter to sing that next word. (And if you thought Wednesday Lent Suppers were good, just wait till Easter brunch!)
If you thought the message of Lent and Good Friday was comforting, Just Wait until you hear the message of Easter. Not only did Jesus go to the cross to pay for your sins, not only did he suffer and die in your place, but he also guaranteed that the payment worked. He guaranteed that Satan has been destroyed. He guaranteed that you will not die but will live. Because he lives, you also will live. That is the message of Easter.
Listen to Paul in verse 11, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” If the Holy Spirit is living in you, God will give you life. And you know that the Holy Spirit is living in you because you have faith in God. Therefore, God does give you life. He gives you a new spiritual life. He gives you eternal life. You will live with God forever in heaven. If you thought the message of Lent was great, Just Wait until you hear the message of Easter!
If you thought worldly life looks appealing, Just Wait. It sure does seem that way sometimes. How come everyone else gets to have fun? People can go out and party and live it up, but I have to be careful about what I do? Others can say whatever they want, they can curse and swear when they are mad and laugh at dirty jokes, but I have to bite my tongue and curb my words? Others can be greedy and dishonest and lie and cheat—even on their taxes—but I have to do what is honest and stay poor? How come I can’t enjoy life? When do I get to have some fun?
Ah, but if you thought worldly living looks appealing, Just Wait until you hear what Paul says in verse 12: “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
Worldly living and doing the sinful things that others do might seem fun and appealing. But, “If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die.” It might be “fun” for a time, but those things lead nowhere. They are of no benefit. They are in disobedience to the Lord. They lead to death and hell.
If you want to know real fun and real joy, then live by the Holy Spirit according to your new spiritual life of faith. Then you can show love to others. Then you can help others. Then you can live with gentleness and patience. Then you can enjoy modest and temperate life. Then you can have true peace. Then you will find that continuing in your faith leads to everlasting life. Now that is fun—living according to God’s will and then living with God forever! If you thought worldly living might look fun, then live by the Holy Spirit and Just Wait to see how much fun you have!
If you thought this is all so difficult, Just Wait. If you thought it is challenging to live like a Christian, Just Wait. If you thought there are too many troubles and hardships in this life, Just Wait. That’s exactly what Paul has to say to you today in verse 18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Yes we may have troubles. Yes we may have sorrows. Yes we may suffer. Yes there may be headache and heartache around every corner of life. But those things aren’t even worth comparing with what is waiting for us. In heaven there will be no problems. No pains. No persecution. No suffering. No sorrow. No troubles. No tears. And there in the center of it all will be our glorious God and Savior. We will see him with our own eyes. We will worship him forever and ever. We will live forever and ever. If you think life is sometimes rough or tough, Just Wait until God brings you to the eternal joys of heaven.
Patience does not come easy for us. Waiting is not usually our first option. But with the peace of God’s mercy and forgiveness God will also give us the patience to wait. Holy Week is coming! Easter is coming! A life of Christian living lies ahead! Heaven is waiting! It’s all yours to enjoy. Just Wait.
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