“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.” from the letter to the Hebrews.
Last week we heard these words from the Gospel according to St. Luke;
“Jesus said, “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
As you may recall, I talked about this fire last week as a purifying, refining fire. The prophet Zechariah prophesied that the remnant of the Lord’s people would be tested, or refined, by fire. St. John the Baptist told his listeners that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Today, we heard that our God is a consuming fire.
In this letter, is it written that we have not come to Mt. Sinai, where those ancestors, that great cloud of witnesses, trembled in fear at the voice of God and begged him not to speak. We have come to Mt. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, where angels and Christian citizens rejoice!
We have come to God, the judge of all of us, and to the spirits made righteous by the blood of the Lamb, that is Jesus, who gave us the New Covenant.
We are then urged not to ignore the voice of God who calls us. Those who ignored the warning of the prophets, and from Jesus himself, did not escape the wrath of God, and neither will we if we reject the voice of the Lord from heaven.
Listen to these words of the Gospel:
Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.
What is the narrow door? It is Jesus! Remember, knock and it will be opened? In order to make it into the Father’s house, one must accept Jesus. There is no other way. “I am the way, the truth, and the life, says Jesus. No man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) Anyone who suggests that there are many paths to God is preaching a false Gospel.
Then Jesus tells them a parable.
When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, `I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, `I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’
The owner of the house is God the Father. Remember this verse?
“In my father’s house there are many mansions.” (John 14:2)
Once the bridegroom Jesus, returns for his bride, that is the church, and takes her to the Father’s house, the door will be shut. Those who have refused to accept Jesus as their Savior will be standing outside, crying, “Lord, open to us!” The reply will be, “I do not know where you come from; go away you evildoers.”
Jesus said, “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out.”
There is that great cloud of witness, we heard about in the book of Hebrews. They will be welcomed into the Father’s house, that is the kingdom of God, but those who do not know Jesus will be thrown out! Strong words indeed.
Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
This means that salvation is not limited to the Jews that were listening to Jesus. It is open to the Gentiles, that is the Non Jewish as well. Perhaps Jesus is referring to the Jews who heard the prophets, but did not accept him as the Messiah as the first who will be last. All those who seem the least likely to deserve salvation, but who have accepted Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, will be first into the kingdom of God.
We are the last who will be first, if we know Jesus. Baptism, and Confirmation, and Sunday School are all necessary to shape the Christian life, but in the end, we must know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. And we are called to share that belief.
Some today say it’s offensive to share your faith with a non-believer. It is offensive because we are the Offensive Line, if you don’t mind a football analogy. We are called to be on the offensive with our faith. And we must not be deterred by anyone on our mission. Sometimes your friends will turn against you. Remember that St. Paul lost it all, family, friends, vocation, retirement, everything for the sake of knowing Jesus! That price might seem high now, but the reward is eternal life with the Father.
Do no be ashamed to be known as a believer. Instead, use it to help others who do not know Jesus. Plenty of times I have been ridiculed for my belief, but it hasn’t stopped me. If you doubt me, let me introduce you to some of my motorcycle riding friends! I welcome the opportunity to witness to faith in the Lord Jesus. There are lives at stake, so don’t shrink from any opportunity to be on the Offensive Line of the Lord! Amen.