The Coming of Christ
The Coming of Christ … Paul Gauche
Revelation 22:12-21 May 20, 2007
I. There is something really captivating about “Last Things.”
A. For as long we have had things to begin, we have been fascinated with how things end.
1. We sometimes peek at the last chapter of a book.
2. We are tempted to reveal how the movie turns out.
3. We turn to the last page of the financial report to see the bottom line.
4. Phrases like
a. “finish strong”, or
b. “go out with a bang”, or
c. “end on a high note” or
d. “save the last dance for me,” reflect the importance of the end of things.
5. When I write a personal email or a letter someone, the last paragraph often reveals the deepest expressions of my heart.
6. The last minute of a phone call to my son or daughter or my dad tug away at the deepest feelings.
7. The final verse of a song gives the song writer one more try to say it and sing it best.
8. We usually save the best for last.
9. Endings, wrap-ups, finales and finishes—they are tantalizing to us.
II. That seems to be what is going on in chapter 22 of the book of Revelation.
A. In the past seven weeks we’ve been through the whole book—
1. from beginning to end.
a. These are the last nine verses
b. of the last chapter
c. of the last section
d. of the last book in the bible.
2. Just about every thing that could possibly have been said in the first 21 chapters has been said.
3. In fact, in this last paragraph of the book—the big conclusion,
4. John is so convinced he’s got the revelation from Jesus wrapped up so right and tight that he warns any one who adds to or takes from this book—by distorting the teaching of the truth of Christ,
5. that it’ll be all over for them,
e. end of story,
III. So John saves the best for last.
A. Really, Jesus saves the best for last—
1. John is the one to whom Christ gives the revelation, who, then, passes it on to Christ-Followers in every age and time.
2. This is the piece that is going to stick in the minds of the readers and the hearers.
3. So it’s important that we get it.
4. And Jesus does it with
a. a reminder
b. a warning with a promise
c. and an invitation.
5. Let’s pray and then let’s unpack those things today.
IV. You know how it is when you’ve got something really important to say, you tend to say it twice?
A. The important “reminder” that Jesus gives to every Christ-follower in every age and time is important enough to be in 4 places in the book of Revelation.
1. 3 of those places are in this last chapter
2. 2 of those places are in this last section;
3. Once at the beginning and at the end—bookends.
4. Jesus doesn’t want the faithful to miss the importance of this ‘last word’.
5. And so in verse 12 and then again in verse 20 Jesus simply reminds the church:
6. “I am coming soon … surely, I am coming soon.”
B. Now these words, no doubt, cut a couple ways; sort of like the way “You just wait until your Mother or Father gets home” cuts a couple of ways.
1. If mom has been away on a business trip and you’ve just missed her a lot, then the phrase, “Oh, just wait until Mom gets home…” is one thing.
2. But, on the other hand, if you’ve just dragged the metal zipper of your backpack along the side of the car or van that’s parked in the cluttered garage and left a four foot long reminder that car paint is only so deep, then the phrase, “you just wait until your Father gets home…” has a completely different ring to it.
3. The reminder that Jesus is coming soon has even found its way onto a few bumper stickers.
4. One of my favorite versions of that reads:
a. “Jesus is coming soon…Look busy!”
V. But the reminder that Jesus is coming soon contains a word of both warning and promise.
A. Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, challenges the church with the question: “How will we live in the meantime?”
1. Between the resurrection and ascension of Christ in that first Easter season and his ultimate return to rule forever is the on-going question, how will we live today in the here and now?
B. The book of Revelation was never intended to scare people into neglecting the present to focus solely on the future.
1. Throughout the centuries, people have mistakenly focused on trying to figure out that future date on the calendar and the time during that day when Christ would usher in the new world—a time that is admittedly unknown even to Christ himself.
2. That’s what’s known as “being so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good”.
3. On the contrary, the book of Revelation and Jesus’ reminder that he is coming again soon has always been intended to free us up to live completely in the present with faith and hope and trust for today.
C. But as long as people have been fascinated with the ‘end time’ people have gotten stuck in the meantime.
1. And instead of seeing the reminder of Jesus’ return for the promises that it holds, people interpret it as a threat and run from it.
2. Now, for sure, in this passage there is language of “boundary,” and “law.”
3. As always, the law is intended to establish healthy boundaries and set free those who live within it while at the same time binding those who choose to live outside of it.
4. Verses 14 and 15 describe the two sides of this insight in some rather graphic biblical language:
a. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, (that is, Christ-followers who live in an on-going state of cleansing from the power of sin and death and daily striving to remain faithful and ready for Christ’s return.)
b. Jesus says, “…they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.”
c. Verse 15 goes on to say, “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
d. Yikes, that’s a guest list that’s got some issues!
D. So the questions remain:
1. “How will we live in the meantime?”
2. What should life be like right now?
3. How do we live in the constantly-revealed Kingdom of God on earth as we await the return of Christ at the end of all things?
4. It was Martin Luther who had the somewhat famous quote,
a. “If I knew the world was going to end tomorrow I would plant a tree.”
5. His point, of course, was not to become incapacitated by what we don’t know about what we can’t know about tomorrow.
6. See how confusing that is?
7. Instead, Luther, certainly, but Christ—for sure—would say:
a. Be faithful with today.
b. Serve someone today.
c. Spend time with God today.
d. Worship God today.
e. Live in the Holy Spirit’s power today.
f. Plant a tree today in the hope that if, by some chance, Jesus lingers, that tree can grow up to produce shade or fruit or some bit of shelter for someone.
g. We’re called to consider the daily reminder that Christ will return soon so that we are freed up to live our lives beyond ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom of God as it unfolds constantly around us!
VI. And then, there is the Invitation.
A. In the book of Revelation, after all is said and done, the invitation still stands:
2. God says, “Come!”
3. Jesus says, “Come!”
4. The Holy Spirit says, “Come!”
B. There are some great invitations here in verse 17.
1. The Spirit of Christ, working in, through and with the Bride of Christ—which is another name for faithful Christ-Followers…the church, says “Come!”
2. The church is to be a welcoming, hospitable, inviting place.
3. Our first and last word can be this marvelous expression of invitation to all people, “Come!”
C. Imagine, for a minute, John writing this from his prison cell.
1. He’s in the last four verses of this marvelous book—saving the best for last, and he writes,
a. “Let everyone who hears say ‘Come!’
2. An invitation.
3. This line symbolizes the great truth that every Christ-Follower is to be a missionary.
4. We who have been found by Christ are called to find others for Christ.
5. And we do that knowing that Christ never calls us to something without equipping us to do so.
6. Then John appeals to every thirsty person anywhere on the planet,
a. “Let everyone who is thirsty, come. Let everyone who wishes, take the water of life as a gift.”
VII. The message of the book of Revelation is ultimately a message of invitation;
A. An invitation to drink deeply from the deep well of God’s glory, splendor and his love for us.
1. And as we’ve been reminded here, the water of life is a gift…a free gift
2. So, are you thirsty?
3. Do you long for that long, cool drink that will satisfy your heart and soul?
4. Do you yearn for the deep healing and joy of knowing that you’ve been invited to live in the presence of the One who is the beginning and the end of all things, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last?
5. Are you thirsty?
VIII. The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
A. Amen. Come, LORD Jesus!
1. The grace of the LORD Jesus be with all the saints.
2. And everybody said…