“The Day Has Not Yet Come”
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Palm Sunday. A celebration! People lining the streets singing “Hosanna!” as they watch Jesus pass by on a donkey.
Since we didn’t read the story, let me share part of it with you now.
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem… As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” (Luke 19:28, 36-38)
People lined the streets and recognized immediately this man riding down the path towards Jerusalem. And they bowed before him and shouted “Hosanna” which means “save us.” The disciples were amazed and praised God.
In the church today we call this the “triumphant entry.” Jesus coming to Jerusalem to make all things right. Everyone celebrating how Jesus will finally come into the city and bring the government to its knees.
But we know this isn’t how it happens. Once Jesus enters the city gates, the shouts of praise disappear and a different tone of voice takes over.
The people who are left on the outside, they are expecting great things! They are expecting Jesus to go in to the city and make great and sweeping changes so that their lives would be so much better.
But they were wrong.
God had other plans.
It’s an easy trap to get in to. We think we know God’s plan for the world, so sometimes we might find ourselves waiting. As if there’s some sort of predictable pattern we get to know and can just wait until its finished.
Like there’s a pan of biscuits in the oven and we just have to wait for that timer to finish counting down before we can bite into a nice warm biscuit.
Last week I said we’d have to watch for signs as to why Paul wrote the Thessalonians a second time. Today we get our first clue.
It appears as though the Thessalonians have been duped. Someone has sent them a letter claiming to be from Paul indicating Jesus was coming really, really soon. In fact, he’s on his way right now.
So, they believed this, they became idle and stopped doing the work Paul asked them to do. They believe since the time has come, there’s no more work to be done except rejoice when the Lord brings His presence among them to take them into the kingdom of God.
Not so, says Paul. There are things that have not happened yet. Things which will show clearly the return of the Lord. And he has not yet seen these signs.
For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5)
It’s not time yet.
The Thessalonians had expectations, not unlike those who lined the road into Jerusalem. They heard news of something coming, so believed… and waited.
For the Thessalonians this meant the work of the church stopped. They were expecting to be swept up into heaven, but it never came. Nearly 2000 years later, it still hasn’t happened.
But the work of the church continues.
In a time when so much attention is being placed on bullying, the church sometimes acts as though it’s being bullied.
It’s withdrawn. It’s sometimes seen as hiding, afraid to speak out because we might get hurt.
We also might act as though someone is coming who will do it all for us. Someone will come to our aid and restore us to wholeness.
This isn’t going to happen.
We’re waiting for nothing.
At least for now.
We’ve been deceived. Tricked. Lulled into these thoughts.
The work of God must continue until He is here! To sit idly by and wait means we’re letting the “lawless one” win.
The devil doesn’t want us to do God’s work. He can’t win if we do. If we simply sit around and wait, that’s exactly what he wants of us. The devil wins because people don’t learn about God.
Paul says, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)
The devil works actively against us. But it’s not all evil and pain, it’s also through idle hands. Through uncaring bodies. Through indifference.
Jesus never showed these traits. He cared. He worked. He was passionate about what he did and taught.
He also gave his life.
So today, we remember the shouts from the crowd. They’re pleas to Jesus to “save us!” We remember the Thessalonians who believed the lies they were told and relaxed from their work.
We remember the church today and it’s call to serve, but has lost its vision.
And so we ask God to renew our spirits this Holy Week. The coming days where we can see no other end than the cross on Friday. A day when maybe we wish we could look away, a day we wish we could just sleep through until Sunday morning.
But without Friday, there is no Sunday.
Without death, there is no resurrection.
There is no victory.
Without Jesus Christ, there is no hope. There is no one who can save us.
Let us turn away from the lawless one. Let us not fall victim to his lies and distractions. Let us focus completely on Jesus Christ.
He is our life… our hope.
He is our salvation.