It would be the last time they would see Jesus on this earth, save in their dreams – one more opportunity to view their Savior and hear his voice. How they must have remembered this day. He stood there, a victor over death, love in his eyes, with scarred hands raised…he blessed them. But the last thing he said to them was this, “You will be my witnesses…” and then he was gone. Lifted into the heavens; hidden from the eyes of men.
And there they stood. Looking. Squinting. Straining to see him one last time only to be interrupted by angels “Why do you stand here looking into the sky…he will come back.” Who? “This same Jesus.” They were his witnesses. Called to remember. Called to tell. Called to share “This same Jesus.”
Do you think those disciples ever forgot what they saw? Do you think they ever forgot what they heard? “You will be my witnesses….he will come back.” They didn’t forget did they? They told others. They walked the streets and stood up in the homes and they spoke of the Savior who would one day return to bring his people home. They wrote inspired letters and books so that others could know and never forget.
And now here, today, we hear a gentle reminder from the pen of Peter, from the Word of God, “Do not forget”. Don’t forget what? “Dear friends, don’t forget with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.” Dear friends, remember God is God. Time is different for him, he created it. He is above it; it exists because of him. Talk about a mind-blowing concept, our lives our governed entirely by time, but for God, time is his creation, he governs it.
But why does Peter start out this way as he begins his reminder to his readers? Because we read in the previous verses that there were, men, and women within the church who forgot the words spoken in the past, who forgot about the God-man who walked this earth, whose sandals John the Baptist wasn’t even worthy to lace up. These scoffers, as Peter called them, deliberately were ignoring God’s mighty power and his promise of a day of judgment.
And so, what does Peter do? He doesn’t address the scoffers he addresses his friends, his fellow brothers and sisters. He wants to strengthen them and enlighten them, so they don’t forget. So they don’t forget God is patient, God made a promise, and God will bring them peace. Let’s start with the patience: “He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Here is this same Jesus that went into heaven. Here is God – a patient God. A God who desires all to be saved. A God who wants all to see the sinfulness of their lives and to lift up their voices in cries of sorrow and repentance so that they will not perish. And he knows, he understands, that takes time. It takes patience to deal with sinners, to deal with us.
I mean Peter’s words here, aren’t they comforting? “He is patient with you.” God has held back the day of judgment for me; God is patient with me – with me! God did not want me to perish. He wanted me to repent to confess to him my sin, ask for forgiveness and live for him. Why? So when that day of judgment comes, I will stand spotless, blameless, and at peace with him. Remember that!
Remember that when in your mind you wrestle with your own self-worth and question whether anyone cares about you. Remember that when you find yourself alone, deserted by family and friends. Remember that when you hear scoffers bashing your beliefs and your faith in a God who “isn’t coming back.” Do not forget. God is patient. His love for you moved him to wait for you, so that you would not be lost. So that by faith in Jesus you would be reconciled to him forever.
Which is great because, don’t forget, God made a promise. Peter goes on, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Peter describes the end of the world as we know it and we can feel fine about what Peter writes, we can look forward to it, why? “In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”
Notice what Peter doesn’t mention, he doesn’t mention what will happen to the scoffers and the deniers, to the unbelievers, no. God’s talking to believers, he is talking to you. “Do not forget,” he says, “look forward to what I have promised to you.” And what has he promised you? A home. We wanderers on this earth are looking forward to going home. This is where God’s patience leads, home. Don’t forget. God promised.
For many of us, home is a place of safety and security. It’s a place where we feel like we can be who we are, we can relax and be comfortable. For some of us, home is not a happy place it’s a reminder of loved ones lost, a daily dose of loneliness, or even a place of fear. Not our new home. It is the home of righteousness with God forever. A placed of beauty, perfection, happiness, and joy. That’s why Peter says we are looking forward to it, because our heart of faith is yearning for that home. It aches for the peace. It seeks a place where all the sin, the sickness, the sorrow, and the stress can be left at the door never to come in, never to be seen again.
Have you ever had a get-together at your home? If you’ve ever have, and you invited people over, you know that there are three types of guests: the first type of guest is what I like to call the way-to-early guest – you know the type. They’re the reason you’re ready an hour early because you know they’ll show up 45 minutes early. Then there is the guest who shows up right on time. No complaints about that guest, you’re ready for them. But then there is the guest who shows up late, ridiculously late, to the point you wonder why they even came. You’re sort of ready for this guest, but most of the food is gone and some people have even left already, and frankly you were hoping that you’d be able to clean up soon and head to bed – no such luck with your new arrival.
God wants us to be ready for all three types of guests because he could be one of the three. He might come sooner than we expect when we are barely ready for him. He might come when we are ready and waiting expectantly, or he could when we are much older or even when our eyes are closed in the sleep of death. We don’t know, but we don’t forget that he’s coming. And Peter tells us how to wait, “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God…”
We maybe thought this was going to be an easy message for us today. “Do not forget.” “Alright, I won’t.” Done. Not quite. “since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
Brothers and sisters, we are looking forward to this day when Jesus comes back, but just as God is patient with us we must be patient with him, and that’s hard – I won’t deny it. It is hard to sit here and wait for a promise that seems to be only a whisper, a dream. But it is even harder to wait knowing what God expects of us: “How will I stand on that day of judgment before my God and know for certain that we are at peace? “Aren’t you scared? Aren’t you nervous?
I’m to be spotless? Look at me, no don’t. Who of us sitting here wants our thoughts and actions to be laid bare before a holy God who judges justly? Who of us will be able to look God in the eye and say, “I deserve to enter through your gates.” Spotless? No. Covered. Sinful. And what about blameless? Ha. When is the last time I told a lie to get out of something? When is the last time I blamed someone else for my mistake? When is the last time I started a rumor or ruined a relationship by being selfish or unmoving? Blameless? No. And yet that is the bar Peter sets for us. “You ought to live holy and godly lives”.
So, now, maybe we do want to forget. Maybe we do want to go through each day not thinking about a day of judgment, hoping that on another day I’ll be ready – I’ll feel ready. Let me go to sleep tonight and tomorrow, well, we will see. But then aren’t we missing the other part of what Peter says? “Since you are looking forward…” We can look forward. We are looking forward why? Do not forget.
God is patient. This is where we start as we look forward to our Savior’s return. We remember his patience. His patience with us as he brought us into his family either as a baby or later in life. His patience day in and day out as he sends his angels and his Spirit to help us wrestle with out temptations, but above all his patience to wait for when the time had fully come to send his Son to walk among us and pay a debt he did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay.
Having paid that debt of sin for us we now are spotless and blameless we now have the power, created in us by the Spirit through God’s Holy Word, to live holy and godly lives. Right now, we are at peace with God. We do not tremble at the thought of a day of judgment, no, as Peter says “you are looking forward” to it. Because on that day, you will have true, full, and complete peace, you will be with your Father. You will be home.
Let us then strive each day to live a holy and godly life and live each day in eager anticipation for Christ’s coming. Bury your head in the Word. Fill yourself with the joys of heaven while here on this earth. Be like those disciples who strained their eyes to catch a glimpse of their Savior. Do not forget! Remind yourself every night that this world full of disappointment, sorrow, sickness, and death, isn’t what God promised. What he promised is still coming, this same Jesus, and he doesn’t want you to perish. You want proof? See it this Christmas season – He’s lying in a manger. Amen.