This final Sunday of the time-honored, liturgical church year points us to the end of this present world and to the day of God’s just judgment.
Jesus’ disciples once asked: “When will these things be?” Jesus answered: “Of that day and hour knoweth no man.”
In another sense, there is a judgment that goes on every day. Here we stand on our clump of dust in our own little corner of the world in our own time, graced by God once more to speak the word and hear it.
It could, as always, be the last time. Whenever the word of God is preached there is a judgment going on, either a judgment to eternal life or a judgment to eternal condemnation. Some, by God’s grace alone, believe. Others stubbornly do not.
Neither those who believe nor those who don’t believe know if they will look Christ in the eye before the sun sets today. Wherever and whenever the gospel is preached in every generation, it is truly Judgment Day every day.
Jesus once told His disciples: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
What is this sermon in dust? It’s a numbing picture of judgment day. Before the judgment seat of God stands some soul. In walks someone carrying a clump of dust: “Exhibit “A”, your Honor!” The person before the throne may ask: “What has this clump of dust to do with me?” Comes the answer from the throne: “On this clump of dust stood a man of God and told you the way to eternal life, and you said, ‘No thanks!’ or, ‘Not now!’ or ‘Get lost!’ The Judge shall then take you at your word. Case closed!”
It is easy to fixate on the unbelief all around us, on the heartache of seeing fellow believers renounce their allegiance to the pure teachings of God’s Word, on children and grandchildren who wander from the Good Shepherd in search of other pastures. It is easy to focus on the downward pull of our surroundings and our own sinful natures.
But the gospel is Good News – the Good News that God Himself took on our humble dust to become our Brother, stood on the dust of this earth, took up our quarrel with the foe, did battle with the dark powers – and rose from the dust of death to hallow this dust on which we now stand to preach the King’s word, this dust where we shall one day lie down, this dust from which we shall one day surely rise up – never to lie down again. God speed that Day!