O God, the strength of all who hope in you, because we are weak mortals we accomplish nothing good without you. Help us to see and understand the things we ought to do, and give us grace and power to do them, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not...'"
All we have to do is see the number - 6-6-6 - and a tidal wave of images sweeps over us! Dark! Ominous! Foreboding! Fire and brimstone! Hell and damnation! And of course, center and front, the antichrist! More a cartoon character than anything, really, but entertaining, all the same! Entertaining and, more importantly, lucrative!
Strip away the superstition, however, blow away the smoke, and the antichrist is pretty ordinary. More like the person in the mirror, than the one in the movies. He - or she - is just like Jesus... but without the love! That's what the 'anti-' means! If Jesus cares, the antichrist doesn't. If Jesus serves, the antichrist demands. If Jesus forgives, the antichrist bears grudges.
Just like Jesus and just like the seventeen verses in this week's gospel! As I read the words, last Sunday, I realized this is what the antichrist looks like! Just like these four-hundred-or-so words! Hard! Harsh! Unbending! A Jesus of morals and ethics and principles! A Jesus of shoulds and oughts and musts. Somebody just like Jesus... but without the compassion! Someone just like Jesus... but without the cross! Someone just like Jesus... but without the love!
Bob Barndt, pastor