Trinity 25 + Matthew 24:15-28
Run! The farm economy is in the tank. Flee! There are shootings in places of worship, schools and nightclubs. Escape! Neighbor hates neighbor. Hide! In our sin, when the world seems to be caving in around us, we want to depend on ourselves. There is pain and suffering, there is uncertainty in our lives, we want to flee, we want to run away, we want to hide. We don’t want to depend on our neighbor, he caused all the problems in the first place. It is every man for himself. Forget about fearing, loving and trusting in God above all things. Forget about loving your neighbor as yourself. Flee! The world is fallen. Sin has corrupted everything. Wickedness is deeply rooted in this world, it cannot be healed, it cannot be fixed, the end is at hand. This corrupt and sinful world is dying, there is nothing we can do about it. The world is experiencing death pains.
Jesus tells us about the coming “abomination of desolation”. Jesus tells us about the horrible thing that will cause destruction, that there will be devastation, and suffering, and despair. Jesus says it will come. We can expect it. But Jesus does not tell us when it is coming. Jesus says the “abomination of desolation” is coming. Count on it. Do not believe it if someone says, “Look, here is the Christ! For false prophets and false christ’s will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible even the elect.” Jesus tells us that it is coming and that we should watch, we should pray, we should be prepared; unless it comes as a thief in the night and we are not prepared.
The reason that Jesus does not tell us when it is going to happen is because it has already happened and we are experiencing the death pains right now. The “abomination of desolation” that Jesus is talking about is His crucifixion, where He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. It was at His crucifixion on Good Friday, that the temple was destroyed. Jesus, the Holy Temple, was destroyed, taking upon Himself all the wrath and condemnation that we deserved, because of our first parents Adam and Eve. Holy Scripture tells us that on that first Good Friday there was darkness over the whole earth from the sixth to the ninth hour, and when Jesus gave up His Spirit and died, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, and the rocks split, the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints were raised and appeared to many in Jerusalem. The “abomination of desolation” is right now. The time of judgment and condemnation is right now. The period of suffering and pain will continue until Jesus comes again, on the Last Day, to judge the quick and the dead.
Jesus said that when we experience suffering and pain be calm, do not be afraid, be still and know that He is God. He is saying to us right now, “Peace be with you.” Jesus says, “When you see the abomination of desolation coming, flee to the Mountain.” Flee to Jesus, He is the Mountain, He is the Mighty Fortress, He is the Rock of Our Salvation, the place where our glory dwells. God the Father sent forth His only begotten Son, to become True Man, to die on the cross, to give His body and shed His blood because of all the sin in this world. Jesus is the once and for all perfect sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes all the sin of the world. Jesus purchased and won us from all sin, from death and from the power of the devil by the shedding of His holy precious blood on the cross; that we would be His own and live under Him in His kingdom. He who believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
Jesus said, “He who is on a housetop, not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get His clothes.” With these words, we are to flee to our baptism. We are to remember that every day we die to Christ, with all sin and every evil desire, and every day we live to Christ. Forgiveness, life and eternal salvation are ours. We shall not be in want, goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. In Baptism we have been seated high upon a holy hill; the right hand of the Father, in His kingdom, has been promised to us. We flee to our baptism, where we are dressed in the white robes of righteousness, where the crown of life is promised to us, where we are given the mansions known as heaven. We need not be afraid.
With the coming “abomination of desolation” we should not return to our previous cares or desires of clothing for the body, what we will eat or drink, for the things of this world will pass away, they will rot and rust and decay. Rather, flee to the Church where the Word of God is sown, producing a crop one-hundred fold. We flee to the Word of God, where the Way, the truth and the Life, that is Jesus Christ, is made known to us, joined as one to us. We flee to the forgiveness of sins, where the love of God and His mercy is made known to us, given to us. We flee to the Lord’s Supper, to the body and blood of Jesus. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”. Jesus is the Bread of Life, the food for the journey as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We are comforted. We fear no evil. We see God, His loving hand is upon us.
Jesus says, “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who nurse babies in those days.” With these words, our Lord is not picking on pregnant women and young mothers, rather Jesus is pointing us to our heavy heart filled with sin, to those who are weighed down with the burdens of the body, to those who do not fear, love and trust in God above all things. We are to flee to Jesus, our Resurrection and our Life. In times of sickness, suffering and pain we are to place our hope in the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Jesus will deliver us. Jesus will guide us into the paths of righteousness. Jesus will take our burdens, our sufferings and our pains upon Himself and we will be free. That is why we confess our sins unto the Lord, and He will forgive the iniquity of our sin.
Jesus says, “Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.” In other words, pray that we not be found in the coldness of our sins or in the absence of good works. Pray that we have repented of all evil, trusting in our loving Savior Jesus Christ to show mercy to us. Pray that we love our neighbor, that we have not turned our back on our spouse or our family or our neighbor, for they need our forgiveness and love as we desire God to love and forgive us.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, be not afraid, turn from the ways of the world and return to the Lord your God. Flee to His Church, where Jesus is with us in His Word and Sacraments. Jesus is our strength and our song. The suffering and the pain that we now endure will last only a little while, but the joy of our salvation will be forever. Jesus will come to make a new heaven and a new earth. He will come to wipe away our tears.
Thanks be to God, the “abomination of desolation” will come to an end. And while we wait for its end, our pray is “Come Lord Jesus”. We pray, confident that He will come to us quickly and take us to be where He is in heaven. We look forward to the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. In our time of suffering and pain, we flee to Jesus. Our help is in Him, who made heaven and earth. He will deliver us from all evil. We need not look anywhere else for help. Amen.