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+ + + In Nomine Jesu + + +

Please join me in prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Wait for it”—that popular expression is used in conversation and online to heighten suspense, perhaps through a less-interesting gradual build-up, anticipating some sort of spectacle or other climactic event. “Wait for it” may well go back to the British Army and dialogue from the 1930s, but I remember hearing it first in the much later T-V show M*A*S*H (1972-1983), when Radar would know the helicopters were coming before anyone else could hear them. “Wait for it” is said to have entered our popular use through a number of movies over the next two decades (Ghostbusters in 1984, Big Daddy and Kindergarten Cop in 1990, Patch Adams in 1998, Notting Hill in 1999, and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle in 2004), but perhaps “wait for it” was used most by the characters on the T-V show How I Met Your Mother (2005‑2014). The expression may not have been so current in Jesus’s day, but, in today’s Gospel Reading, part of what Jesus tells Peter, the others listening, and us about His glorious Kingdom is that in some sense we have to “wait for it”. This morning we reflect on today’s Gospel Reading under the theme “Wait for it!

By the revelation of God the Father, Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, as we heard in last week’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 16:13-20). As we heard in today’s Gospel Reading, from that time, Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer, be killed, and be raised. Then, Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him, essentially saying that God should forbid Jesus’s death and resurrection (see the NASB and NEB), and speaking as if he—Peter!—were Jesus (Piepkorn, 50) and could effectively declare that those things would never happen. Recalling His temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:10), Jesus called Peter “Satan”, for not setting his mind on the things of God but on the things of men. Then, Jesus told His disciples that they also must take up their crosses and lose their lives in order to find them. For, the Son of Man—that is, Jesus Himself—will come and repay each person according to what he or she has done (confer Psalm 62:12 and Proverbs 24:12), with even the crowd standing there that day arguably divided when Jesus comes the final time, with some benefitting from His victory over eternal death and others not so benefitting.

Confessing Peter apparently also satanically wanted the glory of the Son of Man’s Kingdom right then and there, without having to “wait for it” through Jesus’s death and resurrection and Peter’s own. You and I by nature are no better. We come to faith after the fulfillment of Jesus’s prophecy about His own death and resurrection, and yet, like saint and sinner Peter, we may also not want to “wait” for the glory of the Son of Man’s Kingdom through our own deaths and resurrections. Or, perhaps we do not set our minds on the things of God but on the things of men in some other ways. Or, perhaps we fail to deny ourselves, to take up our crosses, and to follow Jesus through death to resurrection and so to the glory that comes with His coming Kingdom. To be sure, the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature do not want us to let God’s Kingdom come (Small Catechism, III:11), and, apart from the Holy Spirit working in us, we cannot deny ourselves, take up our crosses, or follow Jesus (Luther, ad loc Is 2:7, AE 16:34. Cf. Piepkorn, 50). Apart from faith, we deserve Jesus to “repay” our original and actual sins with temporal and eternal death. But, when we, enabled by God, are sorry for our sins and trust God to forgive them, then God, in fact, forgives all our sin, whatever it might be. God forgives all our sin for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ, Who, by the grace of God, tasted eternal death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).

Jesus’s going to Jerusalem, suffering many things, being killed, and being raised was necessary for us and for our salvation. Out of His great love for us, the God-man Jesus underwent all of that and all that His other prophecies of His death and resurrection included: betrayal, condemnation, delivery to the Gentiles, mocking, shameful treatment, being spat on, flogging, and crucifixion—all that was written in the Old Testament’s books of the Law, the prophets, and the Psalms and other writings (Luke 18:31-34; 24:44-46). You and I cannot give anything in return for our souls (Psalm 49:7-8), but we do not need to do so, for Jesus has exchanged Himself for us: He has redeemed us who were sinful with His own innocent suffering and death. When Jesus, Who has tasted eternal death for us, comes the final time in His glorious Kingdom, He will repay us with such things as forgiveness (Büchsel, TDNT 2:167-169), according to the faith He has graciously given us without any merit or worthiness in us (confer Meyer, cited by RR).

Of course, that glorious Kingdom is already ours now, albeit without the glory. In some sense, God’s Kingdom comes to us when our Heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity (Small Catechism, III:8). Convicted by the law of the Ten Commandments, forgiven by the Gospel of the Apostles’ Creed, we pray the Lord that His Kingdom may come to us also, and He answers us with Baptism, Absolution, and the Sacrament of the Altar. At the Baptismal Font, we begin to come after Jesus, Who died and rose for us, by ourselves dying and rising with Him in Holy Baptism (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:11-14). As follow Him, we seek out our pastors to privately confess the sins that trouble us for the sake of individual Holy Absolution. And, so absolved, we come to this Rail and so to the Sacrament of this Altar, where, receiving bread that is Jesus’s Body and wine that is His Blood, we taste and see not death but that the Lord is good (John 8:51-52; Psalm 34:8).

Such faith given to us and nourished in these ways, in which ways we can perceive the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom without its true glory (ESL #5822)—such faith leads to our confession of Him and other good works, including our “waiting” through our own lives, temporal deaths, and resurrections for the true glory of the Kingdom. Along the way, there will be persecution, such as that Jeremiah faced, as we heard in today’s Old Testament Reading (Jeremiah 15:15-21), but we do not avenge ourselves, for, as we heard in today’s Epistle Reading (Romans 12:9-21) and sang in the Introit (Psalm 37:5-7; antiphon: Psalm 37:4), God avenges us on the Last Day. Here and now, we endure whatever God in His wisdom permits us to face, knowing that we are denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and, following Jesus through death to life. His unique suffering (see Michaelis, TDNT 5:913‑916) redeems us from all our failures, including our failing to follow Him as we should. That we will fail to follow Him perfectly is not an excuse for not trying to follow Him perfectly, for not trying to follow Him perfectly is essentially to not follow Him at all (Pieper, III:33). Our faith-produced good works are themselves the evidence of our God-given faith that He will repay.

People sometimes wrongly think that Jesus in today’s Gospel Reading says that some of those standing there that day would still be alive on earth when He came the final time in His glorious Kingdom. Rather, Jesus seems to have said that the believers standing there would not taste eternal death—that is, experience death as what it is (Behm, TDNT 1:677)—because they would benefit from Jesus’s experiencing death for them (see Luther, AE 16:302‑303). Like them, when it comes to the Son of Man’s glorious Kingdom, whether or not we are among the remnant of believers alive when it comes, we “wait for it” in faith and receive it in its fullness then by God’s mercy and grace.

Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

+ + + Soli Deo Gloria + + +