Sunday, May 29, 2022

Revelation.22.6-13; Seventh Sunday after Easter; 29-May-2022;

Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. ” “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Re 22:6-13, ESV)

(From an outline by David S. Smith, Concordia Journal, October 1992).

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Maybe we say it too often to really understand what it means… like we do when we ask people how they are doing but don’t really expect an answer. “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest…” we say before meals. Come and be with us as we eat, “let these gifts to us be blest” come and give us what we need at this moment. Come, Lord Jesus,” we say, but maybe we really don’t mean what we are saying. Maybe we don’t really know what we are saying…

That well know part of the “not-so-common” table prayer “Come Lord, Jesus” is from the book of Revelation. Jesus has been speaking to John through an angel, and then he says directly, “I am coming quickly.” John answers “Come, Lord Jesus! Come… soon.”

I’m not sure the world as a whole would all echo John’s prayer. We think about all the things that we are sure will end when he comes and we’re not sure we want that to happen. We think about our property, our education, our life, raising children… all the things we haven’t done in life, all that we haven’t accomplished, and we don’t want all of that to end. We don’t really know what it’s going to be like for us when Jesus comes, so we’re not sure we are ready. It just wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t get to see my grandchildren grow up, or my children graduate from college, or even just another North Shore fall. We do love this world, and in many respects we should because it was really created for us. And yet, all the stuff of the world, all the things that grab our attention and our affection, can turn us away from Jesus. They get a hold of our thoughts, and we worry and fret, plan and prepare, scheme, and deceive, first to get them and then to keep them. There are times when we forget all about God and his love for us. We fall in love with the creation and forget about the creator. Even we Christians know that it’s not easy to worship only our Lord, Jesus in this world.

We also might not echo John’s prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus!” because we know what our lives are like. Unannounced guests cause you to scurry around the kitchen to push the left-over food down the disposal or throw the dirty laundry in the closet. Our lives are full of dirty laundry. Even we Christians know that it’s not easy to live righteous and holy lives. After all there are a lot of un-righteous things going on out there. And the people who are doing them all seem to be having such a good time doing it. There’s also a lot of unrighteous things happening right here in our heads and our hearts. “It’s not so bad!” we are told, and we are inclined to believe. And Jesus knows. He knows our desperate desires.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Mt 15:19, ESV)

We can’t hide them from him. We can’t push our sins into the closet. “Come, Lord Jesus!” means showing our sins. When Jesus words say, “I am coming soon… to repay everyone for what he has done.” It doesn’t really sound like a time to look forward to.

We might not think much about our prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus” for other reasons, too. After all, lots of times God doesn’t seem to be very active in our lives, at least not in the ways we want him to be active. We wonder why we have to suffer with troubles that never seem to end. We get over one hill of trouble just to see that we still have a mountain to climb. We pray for healing, and we are still sick. Death visits our homes, unwelcome. With trouble come doubts; doubts about God’s love; and doubts about the forgiveness that he promises us. And yet, not everyone looks to be in the same boat. People who declare their independence from God look to have it easy. The justice system allows obviously guilty people to walk away free, and crime does pay. Even for us Christians, it’s hard to believe the word and promises of Jesus, when the world doesn’t seem to work a promised.
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Re 22:7, ESV)

“Life is hard, and then you die.” Better describes most of our life. That’s hardly the blessing that we think we should see.

So why should we say, “Come, Lord Jesus?” Why should we want him to come soon? The key is right there in the middle of the text. It comes to us in words that at first seem like a reason for us to not want him to come.
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. (Re 22:12, ESV)

It’s in that word recompense, the NIV translates it as reward. We might understand that word a little bit better. We know what a reward is. The owner of a lost dog might offer a reward to the one who finds it. Parents offer rewards to their children for doing extra chores. Employers often offer rewards for work well done. A reward is given to someone who deserves it, someone who does something great and beyond expectation. So just why is that Good News for us? We don’t have to examine ourselves very hard to realize that we don’t deserve any reward from God for our behavior, and especially for what we know is in our hearts. We have doubts about God. we know the sinful desires that live there. We know how we put things before God. We don’t deserve a reward. Listen again,
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my [reward] with me.”

It isn’t a reward that we have earned that Jesus brings. It’s his reward, what he was given for his perfect life. It is the reward that he earned. It’s his prize. He has done the extraordinary things necessary to win it. His was the life that deserved reward. God’s perfect son, “With him I am well pleased.” God himself said at Jesus baptism. He won the reward for all that he did, including giving up his own life for the sake of others. And his reward was life after death, not some ghostly life either, Jesus, God from before all time, rose from the dead in a complete and perfect human body. The reward that he brings is life. Changing death to life, was the very reason God became man. He came to do what we are unable to do. He won the reward, and he comes to give that reward to you and me. Jesus says,
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (Jn 10:10).
When we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” we are praying about that abundant life. We are praying that it would come to us. That Jesus would give it to us. When we pray in the Lord’s prayer,
Thy kingdom come.

We are praying the same thing.
What does this mean? The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

How does God's kingdom come? God's kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

That is Jesus promise to us. The abundant life, the new eternal life, that Jesus won, he also brings he gives to you and me. I know I refer to this passage a lot, but I haven’t found one that describes what Jesus will do when he comes, and what Jesus is doing right now in our lives better than this one:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Ro 6:3-11, ESV)

You see, the reward that Jesus brings he gives to you through faith, through the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism. That new life is all sealed up, that promise is all assured to us, because of Jesus, because of his death for the forgiveness of our sin, but even more important, the life given to him in his resurrection is given to us too, through faith! That means that even though we struggle with doubt, that Jesus’ reward is ours. That means that even though we suffer through trouble and pain, Jesus’ reward is ours. That means that even though we sometimes think of ourselves first, Jesus’ reward is ours. It is ours because Jesus earned it and he gives it to us, for free.

That’s life without doubt. Life without the unwanted visitor, death. Life without trouble and pain and suffering and sorrow. It is life without sin; without the desire to sin; without the consequences of sin, life without desperation. It is life where nothing is missing, a life of perfect relationships with our family, and other people, and most importantly a perfect relationship with God. In that life, nothing is more important to us than Jesus. And that’s what we pray when we pray “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Am I saying that we should just hold on and suffer through because the new life that is coming for us is so much better? Well, that is partly true. But Jesus gives you that new life now! While we face today, we don’t face it alone.
“I am with you always,”

Jesus promises,
“to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20, ESV)

As we live and breathe today and tomorrow, Jesus is right here with us. I mean right here and right now. That abundant life is already ours. You know how it is when you are troubled, and a friend stops to visit you. That’s Jesus at work, especially when that friend prays for you and speaks God’s Word to you. You know when you have doubts about forgiveness for your sin, but you hear your pastor speak God’s forgiveness to you,
“In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus, I forgive you all your sins.”

And even more powerfully give you the very body of Jesus that was raised to new life, for your new life… as a physical reminder of your sins forgiven. That’s Jesus at work with you, giving you, his reward. And it’s just a taste of what is to come when Jesus appears.
“Behold I am coming soon.”

He says. We reply, Come, Lord Jesus. Come. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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