Last Sunday I preached from Mark 13:1-23 and today I preached from Mark 13:24-37. In this chapter of the Bible Jesus is teaching His disciples about what we might call "end times," i.e. the time when Jesus returns in power and glory and God's judgment on the world comes to pass. My sermon titles were, "The Coming Judgment, Part 1 & 2."
This morning after the sermon we shared the Lord's Supper. In the picture is my view from the front of the church, where I look towards the congregation while I preach. This picture is taken before our worship service began, while I was getting things set-up, and there are two things in the picture I want to touch on.
First is the preaching of the word. My Bible sits open on the pulpit, with my notes next to it. There are a few tabs hanging out of my Bible to make it easy to find passages I want to refer to during the sermon. Being the 21st century I could very easily put those verses into my notes, but my preference, when it comes to reading God's word, is to read it from the Bible itself.
There are possibly almost as many theories to the act of preaching the word as there are preachers. I belong to the group that believes that, in some way, Jesus Christ must be lifted up in every sermon. He is the center of the book; the hero, if you will. Many preachers are quick to begin with the Bible and then move off to their pet topic, usually resulting in a sermon that either moralizes or spiritualizes the biblical text.
The places in the world where we can get spiritual and/or moral lessons are virtually endless. The places where we can hear of the unique love that the Living God brings to the world through the person and work of Jesus Christ are few. Week by week I try to be a preacher who does that with the people God brings before me. And I will admit that it is a task in which I still have much to learn.
The other thing to notice in the picture is the table sitting in between the pulpit and the pews. It is in the process of being set-up for us to share the Lord's Supper as a part of our worship.
Among the words I speak as we get ready to share the Lord's Supper are 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, where Paul says this in verse 26:
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."
Mark 13 is a glimpse of the end of the story, from the lips of Jesus. Or perhaps not quite the end of the story, but what C. S. Lewis called "the beginning of the real story," the time when all of God's children are gathered with Him forever.
Every time we gather at the table to share the meal Jesus has given us we strengthen our faith and remember the very good promises of eternal life that He has made to His children.
And every time we share this meal we give witness to the world that we believe He will return one day. We proclaim a life that was given over to death for the salvation of all who have faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We do this church by church throughout the world, "until he comes."
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.