Saturday, August 18, 2012

Homily 38: A Day of Days (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"Then comes the end, when [Christ] shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God the Father, when He shall put down all rule, and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death...." I Cor. 15:24-26

The ancient Middle-eastern concept of a "redeemer" had several different facets to it, and Christ (being the great Redeemer) fulfills them all. As a "kinsmen redeemer," He has come and completely purchased back His people from Sin, making them a Church widowed by the Cross and being made spotless and pure until He returns for her and takes her away to His Father's house. As a "property redeemer," He has purchased back all of creation that was sold under Sin, and He will deliver it back up to the Father as a kingdom renewed by redemption. These two facets of a "redeemer" are the two we hear the most often about, and we ought to continue hearing about them, for they are for our joy and strength.

There is one other facet of a "redeemer," however, that Christ also fulfills and yet doesn't get nearly as much thought. In light of recent tragic events, it would do us good to hear it again: that of the "blood redeemer," the one who avenges their family and loved ones against those who have harmed them. We find much comfort in the "gentle" Jesus of the gospel narratives, but have we forgotten the mighty Jesus of "the end"? There He is no longer the suffering savior but the blood redeemer, coming for vengeance with red sword in hand.

Understand this: the first time Jesus came it was for the redemption of His beloved; the next time He comes, it will be for the redemption of His beloved's blood against all her enemies. I am not speaking of temporal institutions or powers (though they will have much to answer for as well), but rather her greater enemies: Hell and all its malicious guile, the Devil and all his cruel hate, and Death, the last and greatest enemy of them all, the one whose mindless travesties have broken every heart including the heart of God (John 11:33-35). Vengeance on Hell and the Devil would be vengeance enough, but how sweet will be that final vengeance? Vengeance against the last enemy? There is coming a day when death will answer for its many crimes: for all the loved ones lost in agony and fear, for all the millions consumed in disaster or atrocity. The end is coming, where death will have neither power to stand nor any place to hide. Christ, death's great nemesis, will return in splendor and with purpose. He will claw death's wretched frame from out of the very fabric of existence, hold him up against the blood-red sky, look him in the eye and say, "Now is the day of my vengeance."

What a day it will be, a day of days, when the problem of evil will be answered at last, for Christ the mighty Blood-Redeemer will take the scoundrel death and smite his ruin against the wrath of God.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012

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