I, Jesus, have sent my messenger to give you this witness for the churches.
Christ has sent out His messenger as a witness of His Gospel, the Good News of His victory! And this is the message: Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah! Now it’s a strange book that Revelation, sometimes seen as the most vital of all scripture, sometimes tolerated as a dusty book in a forgotten corner. And yet it is a record of a vision God gave St John for the benefit of all Christians, for the benefit of you. And we have now heard just the end of this vision of Christ, recorded by St John, and preserved by the Holy Spirit through His Church. But what does all this mean? It means come!
Come and be washed; come and hear; come and pray in song; come to the feast; come into a new way of life, the Way of Life Everlasting. Come! Just as the parent calls for their almost toddler, “come, come on you can do it, one foot after the other, come!” Come to my arms and receive good things, or reject me and go your own way into danger. Then as that child grows and another is born, again the parent calls, “come, one foot after the other, come!” Now the first child, who has heard their parents’ words, can join in that call, to encourage and join in saying, “come and receive good things!” Here are the good things, yet if you reject them and go your own way you will be in danger.
Children of the Living God, that is our life together in the Church, this beautiful yet battered Bride of Christ. And this is our Christian life, the life sustained by the Holy Spirit. That our Loving Father, God Almighty, called to the first humans, “come!” Yet they went their own way into danger. God called Abraham, He called Moses; they heard and witnessed to the Good News, calling to those around them, “come!” Yet by and large the Israelites rejected the witness and went their own way into danger; especially in the times of the prophets, those on whom the Holy Spirit Himself rested and empowered.
Then Jesus came. He came in the flesh to call out to all, “come!” Because of that call and its rejection Jesus suffered and died, yet He was not in danger, they were. For He rose on Sunday, today, defeating death by His death and by His Resurrection winning life everlasting for you. He then went to the upper room and His disciples witnessed this wonderful result of the Resurrection. Forty days later, last Thursday, He sent out these messengers as witnesses to the ends of the Earth. And today He continues to send messengers who carry His Gospel, that is what I am, what you, this church, has called me to be. That the pastor, whoever he may be, has been sent to point you back to Christ, His Word and Work; to say as an older brother to the toddler, “come, come into these loving arms and receive good things!”
And so today we come into His arms, Just as this account from Revelation tells us. We come into Christ’s presence in His name, Alpha and Omega; just as He comes to us. We are washed in Baptism and in the absolution Christ returns us to that grace. You are spotless for He has taken away all your sins, preparing you to receive all good things. Yet those who reject His call wander into danger, like a toddler onto a road, yet wilfully. For Jesus is the only sure foundation, the root which gives life to those united in Him; He is the promised descendant of David with authority over all; and He is the only light in the darkness, the bright morning star.
For this reason, the Holy Spirit says, “come!” and the Bride of Christ, who is the Church of God you are a part of, says, “come!” Let you who hear join the Spirit and the Bride saying, “come!” Let the one who is thirsty come and receive good things, the water of life without price. Come be refreshed by Christ Himself, as He comes here for you.
But now comes a warning: if anyone not just rejects the Gospel but also changes God’s Word, whether adding or taking from it; they will suffer and loose their life. An older child can listen to their parents and pass on their words, but if the older sibling twists their parents’ word and convinces their younger sibling to follow them, then they are both likely in trouble.
Jesus says, “Surely, I am coming soon!” Yet this is nothing to be afraid of, for as we heard last week and today after the absolution, He says to you “Peace be with you, My peace I give you.” And on that night before His death, He was praying (John 17). So intensely He was praying all night until His arrest, praying blood, sweat and tears for you. For the disciples, yes, for the Church His Bride, and for you. That we might be one, united in Him, that we might know Him and through us that He be made known to the world. As we pray His prayer today, we join with His pray that night, with the certain hope that God hears His own prayers.
So, we pray together with the whole Church for the rulers, for His Church, and for all in need. We pray as His Holy and Beloved Bride that Christ come and make things right, to fix and heal and hug, that all creation might receive the good things and be renewed. We pray with St John, with the whole Church, today in His Divine Service, even before our meals; we pray, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” Come today in Word and Sacrament, come everyday into our lives, and come on that final day and make things right.
Unto that Day, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now to Life Everlasting. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.