Sermon for 12.31.23 “Waiting for God”

Christmas 1, December 31, 2023
Text: Isaiah 61:10–62:3
Theme: Waiting for God
Other Lessons: Psalm 111; Galatians 4:4–7; Luke 2:22–40

(A) In the Name of the Father…Amen.
(B) The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
(C) Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
(D) Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
Praise belongs to You, our God, because You have fulfilled Your promises to
Your people Israel in the incarnation of Your Son, and sent the light of
Your truth to our fathers when they were walking in ignorance of You.
Grant us steadfastly to trust Your covenant of grace that we may live
Make Your works of mercy and truth known to our children, that they may
praise Your name in generations to come. Amen.


(A) Seventy years ago, Irish playwright Samuel Beckett wrote a play that is
considered a modern masterpiece by people all over the world.
(1) The play is about two men who are waiting under a tree for a man called
(2) The two men are unsure of exactly who Godot is or if he will ever
(3) They talk at length:
(a) searching for hope and making meaningless conversation as they wait,
(b) But they are never sure of exactly what they are hoping for or what
will happen when Godot shows up.
(4) As the play comes to an end, night falls on the helpless and
unfulfilled men, and the man they wait for never shows up.
(5) In this play, entitled Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett assumes the
role of mouthpiece for the entire unbelieving world,
(a) He accuses Christians of spending their lives waiting on impotent
promises made by a God that does not exist.
(1) For most of history, mankind has been waiting for God.
(A) A close look at Scripture reveals that Beckett was at least partially
(1) For nearly all of history, mankind has waited for God.
(2) Indeed, we have waited for God to save us.
(3) The Bible has sixty-six books consisting of about twelve hundred pages.
(4) Mankind was sinless and in favor with God for exactly two chapters of
the whole Bible, which equates to roughly a page and a half.
(5) We all know what happened in that third chapter of Genesis.
(6) Our ancestors Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and in doing so, they
plunged themselves and all of God’s creation into a condition of sin.
(7) Ever since, the world and everything in it has been separated from God.
(B) God was angry and cast our first parents out of the garden.
(1) He cursed them with difficulties and tribulation and, finally, death.
(2) We see from the beginning that God despises rebellion against Him, but
we also see that God’s wrath is overshadowed by His shocking grace.
(3) For even as God was expelling His wicked children from paradise, He
promised them that one of Eve’s offspring would crush the head of the
reviled serpent that tempted them into their fatal mistake.
(4) Yes, even in the third chapter of Genesis, God promises a Messiah.
(5) From that point on, mankind has waited for God.
(2) Waiting is not something we do well.
(A) God’s wisdom has always seemed foolish to humans, so we’ve always
sought to have things our own way.
(1) Throughout history, whenever man’s will led him to misery, suffering,
and despair (as was always the case), helpless man cried out to God and
waited for God to save him again.
(2) Without fail, God always did.
(B) The entire Old Testament, in ways both subtle and bold, points to both
the need for and the promise of a Savior.
(1) Whether through events that foreshadowed the salvation that was to
come, or by bold prophetic utterances of those who spoke on God’s behalf,
every book of the Old Testament told of man’s desperate inability to save
himself and of God’s enduring promise to save and restore him.
(2) God promised to send a Messiah, a champion of his people, who would:
(a) crush their oppressors,
(b) lead them to the promised land,
(c) and restore their relationship with Him.
(d) And so, man waited.
(C) God in His mercy did not force His children to linger here on earth
without Him.
(1) Our heavenly Father knew that the burden of enduring without Him was
too much for His children to bear, so God always placed Himself where His
broken children could easily find Him.
(2) He told them to build a tabernacle, which means “dwelling place,” where
they could come and hear God’s Word read to them.
(3) They were to come to Him in repentance and sacrifice the blood of
animals for their sins.
(4) They were to come and receive forgiveness and comfort.
(5) They were to come and be in the real presence of God.
(6) God was always there, just as He said He would be.
(7) What we do in worship now is really no different than what was done
back then, just no animal sacrifices.
(D) Through the generations, God’s people continued to be so sinful and so
rebellious that the blood of beasts could never satisfy God’s wrath.
(1) Despite God’s presence, guidance, and mercy, man still wanted his own
(2) And God gave it to him.
(3) God spoke to the people through prophets, telling them of his fury over
their sin.
(4) Through Isaiah, for example, the Lord God warned his people:
Isaiah 39:6 (NASB95)
‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that
your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon;
nothing will be left,’ says the LORD.
(a) And, yes, He allowed them to be taken into the bondage of slavery again.
(E) True to His character, however, God still spoke words of promise.
(1) He assured his people that the Messiah would yet come to them at just
the right time.
(2) Even as Isaiah saw the days of captivity, God let him see deliverance,
a new day:
Isaiah 61:10–62:3 (NASB95)
10 I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He
has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of
righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride
adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the
things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness
and praise To spring up before all the nations.
1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will
not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her
salvation like a torch that is burning.
2 The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And
you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will
3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, And a royal
diadem in the hand of your God.
(F) “Will do this, will do that”. “Until this happens, until that happens”
(1) Nothing but promises, promises, promises, the “Samuel Becketts” of the
Old Testament world would say.
(2) God’s people lamented, and they cried out for reconciliation.
(3) And . . . they waited.
(3) But just as God promised, the Messiah did come.
(A) The story of Simeon as recorded in the second chapter of Luke may cover
only a few paragraphs, but it has a great and lasting importance to the
life of every Christian.
(1) Simeon, like many of his generation, had waited for God’s Messiah.
(2) But unlike any other of his generation that we know of, he had been
guaranteed by God that he would not die before he had seen the promise come
to pass.
(3) Simeon waited well.
(4) We do not know how long Simeon waited.
(5) Tradition usually portrays Simeon as greatly advanced in age.
(6) But Scripture is silent as to how old he actually was.
(7) All that can be said is that he waited well in faith for his Savior to
(8) And just as God promised, the Messiah did come.
(B) God Has Always Made His People Promises and Kept Them.
(C) The Scripture said that the Holy Spirit had come upon Simeon, and it is
clear that this is how he knew that he had seen the Christ.
(1) For only through the eyes of faith that the Holy Spirit can provide
could Simeon have known that this helpless, fragile baby was really the
King of all creation.
(2) As he looked upon the child, born humbly and in a most inglorious
fashion, he knew that he had not waited in vain on an impotent, nonexistent
(3) He had in fact been in the real presence of God.
(4) We no longer wait for God to reconcile us to Him, for Jesus finished
that at the cross.
(A) As Simeon looked at the child, Scripture records that he spoke these
beautiful words that we have come to know as the Nunc Dimittis (the Song of
Luke 2:29–32 (KJV)
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
(B) The Samuel Becketts of Simeon’s day would have dismissed this as sheer
and utter foolishness, but our God works that way.
(1) His foolishness produces:
(a) abundance from nothingness,
(b) strength from weakness,
(c) life from death.
(d) We see this at the cross.

(2) We see our Lord and Savior Jesus:
(a) battered,
(b) weak,
(c) crucified,
(d) in despair
(e) and in agony.
(3) Through worldly eyes:
(a) we see a gentle Jewish man being executed,
(4) But through eyes of faith provided us by the Holy Spirit, we see God
incarnate, triumphantly destroying the power of death for us.
(5) We can never think about this reality too much.
(a) The danger is not thinking about it enough.
(b) Or only thinking about it when it is convenient to do so.
(6) For at the cross, we learn who we truly are—and who God truly is.
(7) God’s attributes were fully revealed that day, as we beheld God’s
ultimate wrath and fury . . . and his shocking and infinite mercy.
(8) Our sin so infuriated our heavenly Father that there had to be blood
(9) Someone had to die!
(10) But He loves you so much that He wouldn’t let it be you.
(11) Instead, in your place, He sent His only Son to be your Savior, just
as He always said He would do.
(C) We no longer wait for God to reconcile us to Him, for that was finished
at the cross.
(1) You are reminded of this at your Baptism, where you were:
(a) washed,
(b) renewed,
(c) and grafted into His family,
(d) forever bonded to the One who conquered death, the devil, and hell on
your behalf.
(e) You are no longer a free agent left to your own devices and your own
feeble plans to save yourself.
(f) Your life has been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, and you are
His and He is yours.
(5) Instead, we now wait for God differently.
(A) Yes, we still wait for God.
(1) We wait for His return.
(2) He has promised to come again for us and to take us to the place He has
prepared for us in heaven.
(3) We now wait to see Him face to face, knowing that we have nothing to
fear in the real presence of God.
(4) We now look eagerly forward to the day when our tears are wiped away
and our joy will be without restraint.
(5) We wait for our place at the table at a feast that will have no end.
(B) There is also good news for us in the present.
(1) We do not merely wait for the presence of God in the future, for just
as in the days of old, the Lord knows that life on earth is too much for us
to bear alone.
(2) Just as in the Old Testament, God still puts Himself where we, His
broken children, can easily find Him.
(3) He has promised to meet us:
(a) In the Word: where we hear
First. the Law, showing us the right way to live
Second. and the Gospel, showing us our Savior and Lord who has lived the
right way for us because we cannot and will not on our own.
(b) In the water:
First. Combined with the Word, we are cleansed of our sins.
Second. The old Adam has died, the new man is alive!
Third. We are united with Christ in His death and resurrection.
(c) In the Supper:
First. He gives us the sacrifice He made at the cross so that you may have
comfort from the forgiveness of your sins.
Second. He meets you, gives you His real presence, and assures you of His
love for you.
Third. He will always be there for you, just as He said he would.

(A) As you wait for God now, do not concern yourself as some Christians do
with trying to “show God your résumé” of all you’ve done and not done.
(1) Do not be obsessed with proving yourself to God so that you may impress
Him in the hopes of being saved on the Last Day.
(2) The truth is, you will be sinning when the Lord returns, and so will I.
(3) Rather, wait for God by remaining daily in repentance and remembering
the depth of your sin and the greater depth of God’s grace.
(4) Never forget that there is no sin you have committed that is too great
to be absolved by His mercy.
(5) His death and resurrection are sufficient for you.
(B) The world is full of Becketts who accuse us of waiting on a promise
that is impotent and on a God who doesn’t exist.
(1) But your God has a perfect attendance record.
(2) We don’t know when He’ll return but we have the promise that He WILL
(3) Rest assured, however, that when He’s seen all He needs to see, and all
that He requires has come to pass, He will say to the evil foe, “You will
hurt my children no more.”
(4) Our waiting will end, and He will return, just as He always said He
(5) Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
(C) Let us pray:
Gracious and merciful Lord, we look to You for the remission of our sins in
Jesus, who speaks Your faithful words and performs the mighty work of our
salvation. Hallelujah! Amen.
Various Authors. The Lutheran Study Bible (Kindle Locations 146344-146345).
Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.
(D) The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(E) In the Name of the Father…Amen.