Sermon for the 7th Sunday of Easter June 2, 2019
Text: Revelation 22:12-20 ILCW Series C 19:2134
Theme: Come, Lord Jesus, Come! Amen.
Sometimes when the way through life gets a little rough and steep, and heavy, dark clouds hang over our road, we grow weary and wonder just what it all means.
When such times hit, I get a boost by travelling back along memory’s lane to the old home where I grew up. At the time, I never thought that would be the case – that I would look back to my childhood, which then seemed most uneventful. But I realize now that the Lord had His plans and was shaping things according to His will even when I could not see it.
Our home stood on a quiet corner where the entrance into the ministerial college where my father taught music led. If you looked out our kitchen windows, the field where the athletic teams practiced when school was in session stretched before you. In the summertime the grass was very green and the many elm trees that ringed the field swayed in the gentle breeze. It was a very peaceful, idyllic setting.
The most precious recollections which I have of that childhood home are not those that center on the huge attic where I played for hours at a time among the boxes filled with wonders and family treasures. Nor are my most precious recollections of the mysterious basement of 4 rooms full of nooks and crannies that intrigued me as though I was exploring a hidden cave somewhere. Nor are my most precious recollections of the campus, empty of students in the summertime, where my friends and I would climb trees, roll down the hills, skateboard, bicycle, and spend all day discovering wonders that catch little boys’ imaginations with thoughts of adventure. No, my most precious recollections are those when we were gathered around the kitchen table to eat and hold our evening devotions.
Once again, I see the family circle of my father and mother, grandmother, and brothers sitting down to a meal. (That family circle is broken now, some in heaven and some on earth living miles apart from each other. Of those still living, rarely do we see one another anymore.) All our meals began the same way – bowed heads, eyes shut, folded hands, and then spoken in unison: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed.” It’s the same prayer we use at our congregational gatherings. Some may wonder why I don’t use another prayer or make up my own. It’s because those simple words have such great meaning: “Come, Lord Jesus, come. Be with us. Stay with us. Bless us and this meal with Your presence.”
Realize that, outside John’s closing benediction, those opening words are the last words of the Bible: “Come, Lord Jesus, Come! Amen.” Just a simple, concise prayer – made up of only 5 words. Yet, those brief words sum up the Christian’s greatest wish and most fervent desire, not just at dinner time, but at the nighttime of a Christian’s life here: “Come, Lord Jesus, Come. Come to take me home with You, to my true, eternal home. Come to receive me to Yourself for You have prepared that home for all who have loved You and worshiped You as their Savior. Come for us. Come soon.”
Why would Christians pray that? Because we have seen over the last several Sunday’s in our texts from Revelation what that home in heaven is like.
The Apostle John was given a glimpse of it in his vision. He saw that everything was new again; there was nothing of the old, sinful world remaining. Everything was shiny and bright, described in terms of costly jewels, precious gems, and “unbelievable” sizes.
He saw walls that rose around a city, walls which went up hundreds of miles into the sky. He saw 12 city gates through which one entered the city, 3 on each side, each made out of a gigantic pearl. 12 angels kept the way safe and opened the gates wide for God’s people to enter.
He saw a city made of pure gold, clear as glass. Emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, and countless gems sparkling throughout the foundations. But the most noticeable thing to John was the absence of something. Do you remember what it was?
John cried, “A Temple! I don’t see a temple in the city!” We would say, “I don’t see a church there!” That’s surprising because a temple or a church is the place where Christians come into God’s presence in the highest way here on earth. But it’s not surprising that it is not there in heaven because you don’t need a building when God and the Lamb who was slain for our sin are right in front of you. They make heaven what it is. Their redeeming love and gracious presence turn the whole place into a temple. It was an awesome sight!
John continued in the opening part of this last chapter: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of
life bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.”
I can’t think of any fruit tree on earth that gives fruit for enjoyment constantly, 12 months out of the year. Maybe 1 or 2 months, but there it never stops! And “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Leaves that heal everyone completely no matter what color, nationality, or language they speak.
It continued, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb is in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.” Name on the foreheads? What’s that about? It’s rather simple.
Whose book is this? Mine. How do you know it is mine? It has my name in the front. A name on something shows whose it is. And the name on the people’s foreheads declares that they are God’s. Will there actually be a name on my forehead like there was on the High Priest’s turban in Old Testament times? I don’t know. I doubt it because that’s not the point, that we have some writing up here on our foreheads. The point is this – those in heaven are God’s because their sin has been washed away. The curse for Adam and Eve’s disobedience is removed. Believers are His – forever – just like this book is mine, and no one should take it from me.
What a comforting thought for those who come to God through faith in Christ, especially as they endure the trials of this life! God promises in the Book of Isaiah (43): “Thus says the Lord, He who created you…He who formed you, ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…. Fear not, for I am with you.’”
There’s one more thing that John saw in his vision. He writes, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever….These words are trustworthy and true.” Trustworthy and true! You can count on this! It is from God!
Wow! I don’t know if I catch the significance of all the imagery that we’ve seen over the past few weeks. But to make it simple, we’re right back to the beginning, to Genesis 1. In the Bible’s last chapter Jesus comes to take us back to perfection, to the way He
intended it all to be. He’s brought us full circle. But this time the devil, sin, its trying consequences, and all wicked people are out, completely out of the picture, out of our lives forever! No more pain, no more suffering, no more trials for there we are in the presence of the Good “Shepherd who shall lead us to springs of living water and who shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives. And we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
There once was a little blind child who had never looked upon the beauties of nature that we can daily see. But it was believed that a surgical operation could possibly give her sight for the first time.
After the delicate surgery was performed, her eyes were bandaged. For several days she was kept in a dark room. When the moment came to remove the bandages from her eyes so that she might look upon the world for the first time, they decided to take her out into the open after night had fallen. As she beheld the moon and the stars in their twinkling glory, she cried, “O mother, is this heaven?” “No,” her mother replied, “this is earth, and that is the sky above us there.” “Oh, why did you not tell me it was so beautiful and so grand?” the girl asked. “I tried to, my dear, but it was impossible,” her mother replied. “You have to see it for yourself in order to understand.”
And so it is with heaven which Christ has won for all who believe in His resurrection on Easter. Although in these texts from Revelation which we have seen over the past several weeks it has been portrayed to us in most beautiful colors and shapes and sizes, we cannot fully grasp its beauty until we see it for ourselves. As the Apostle Paul writes, “Now we see through a glass, darkly, but then we shall see face to face. Now we know in part, but then we shall know even as we are fully known” (1Cor.13:12).
It is the Christian’s fondest wish and most fervent desire. It’s what we look forward to the most. It’s what the Bible’s message to us is all about – to know, to see, to be at home with our Savior. Is it any wonder then that the Scriptures close with this brief, yet most important prayer of all: “Come, Lord Jesus, come! Come soon! Amen!” God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.