Job 19: 23-27a
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
Sermon: “The Finale Gospel”
Recently I read an article called “Finale Rage” (https://www.vulture.com/2019/05/games-of-thrones-lost-finale-reactions.html)
It was written right after the final episode of Game of Thrones aired on HBO a few months back.
For those who do not know, Game of Thrones was one of if, not the biggest television program for the past 8 years.
It had a loyal fanbase.
And then came the last episode.
To say that the majority of the fans were upset would be putting it mildly.
So the article talked about reasons fans were upset and also shared how some people felt like they wasted years…YEARS…of their lives only to see the show they love end on a bad note.
Finale Rage is real.
I know I went through it when the show Lost ended over NINE years ago.
There were so many questions unanswered,
For those of you who watched…I still have no idea how the polar bear got on the island!
There was rage back then.
There was rage when the Sopranos ended.
Although that show did wonders for the band Journey and their song “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Finale rage comes from people who have invested their hearts and time into a show and not getting the ending they wanted or hoped for.
This kind of rage or anger does not exist only for television shows.
It exists in religion.
It actually exists in our whole culture.
Because many of us are worried, scared, of how our story ends.
“Have I done enough to earn God’s love?”
“All the things I have done to others, how can I expect to get to Heaven?”
“No one has loved me in this life, so why would I think there is something better in the next?”
After all our hearts and time put in, does our Finale end the way we hope?
Today I am here to tell you the answer.
The answer can be found in our scriptures for today.
All of them.
So let me start with the Gospel.
One thing about stories, it was a favorite device of Jesus to teach people about God.
He used parables…stories with a point… to make people think and see and experience God in a different way.
Today, Jesus is confronted by a group of people called the Sadducees.
This group’s beliefs were based on the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch).
They were followers of Moses.
A particular characteristic of this group was they did not believe in a resurrection.
And they wanted to see where Jesus stood on the issue.
So they tell Jesus a strange, out of this world story:
The story is actually based on a law found in Deuteronomy called the “Brother-In-Law Marriage.”
When a husband died, his brother was required by law to marry the widow in order to keep the deceased’s name alive.
Let me tell you, I feel sorry for the wife in this story!
She does not get a say in this matter.
Historically, marriage in Jesus’ time was not based on love.
It was based on business.
And how two people who got married would help increase the economic and social standing of the families involved.
The groom could choose whom to marry.
The bride did not.
She was just property.
She is just handed off from one brother to the next.
So the Sadducees want to know how Jesus would solve it.
Jesus solves it by changing the story.
He changes not only the ending, but the beginning and middle as well.
Jesus says the story is not about marriage laws.
It is about life.
It is about family.
Jesus calls all the people in the story “children of the resurrection.”
And that includes the widow.
She is no longer “property.”
She is a person.
A person protected and LOVED by Jesus who is welcomed to be a part of the ending that God has planned.
Jesus is saying, “the wife does not belong to the husband or any of the brothers. She belongs to ME. Because she is MY child.”
This was not the finale the Sadducees wanted to hear.
But it was the one the disciples, the crowds, the women, the children, NEEDED to hear.
And it is the ending WE need to hear.
Sometimes it is hard for us to remember that, especially when we think our stories have been written with a bad ending.
We all have stories of how we have gotten to this point in our lives.
And for some of us, our stories are in a bad place.
Our stories feature sickness, unemployment, financial issues, addiction, depression, anger, loneliness.
But our stories do not have to END that way.
Because there is one person…one constant…that has been a part of our stories from the very beginning:
And that is God.
God is the Author of our stories.
God began each of our stories with the greatest beginning:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Hear these words from Job:
25For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
26and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
27awhom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
Hear these words from Paul:
13But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth… 16Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 17comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
God has known us from the beginning.
God has loved us from the beginning.
There is never a moment in our story where God does not love us.
We do not have to worry about how the story ends.
We do not have to be scared of where the story ends.
Because it’s God’s Story.
By the Grace of God,
We do not have Finale Rage.
We have Finale Peace.