April 24, 2016 Text: Revelation 21:1-7
Dear Friends in Christ,
David C. Steinmets, a noted American historian of late medieval and early modern Christianity said, “A church who has lost its memory of the past can only wander about aimlessly in the present and despair of its future. Having lost its identity, it will lose its mission and hope as well.”
That is why we value all of Scripture – both the Old and New Testaments. We learn from them and they guide us. They keep us focused on Jesus. Today it is the last book in the Bible and John helps us so that we are . . .
“SEEING WHAT WE NEED TO SEE”
The text begins, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared a bride adorned for her husband.”
Have you ever given that much thought? “Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” That is a description of how God sees His church – you and me. A beautiful bride loved and adored by Christ. So much so that He would suffer and die for her. And that’s hard to imagine, don’t you think? Christ sees us as a beautiful bride even though we are all self-centered and tend to put His love on the back burner of life.
David R. Schmitt of Concordia Seminary relates the following from a TV reality show called Bridezillas. Perhaps some of you have seen it. He writes:
“Among the shows is a bride named Courtney. Courtney and her soon-to-be husband Dan. Courtney wanted to have a murder-mystery themed wedding. They were going to have a murder at her wedding and then the guests would play a game of Clue. She sat there on the floor with a board and place cards in front of her, planning her wedding, when her future husband Dan foolishly critiqued her changing the rules of the game. She had a complete meltdown. She threw the place cards and board into the air. Her face became red. Her voice was raised. And she started shouting and began destroying her wedding. She launched into a full assault on Dan and his family. She screamed about how she hated him and his stupid family. The bride became Bridezilla, argumentative and ugly.”
And then Schmitt makes this observation: “Watching these shows, you realize that all of these brides have one thing in common. They have all forgotten one fundamental thing. You can’t make yourself a bride. They try to orchestrate their weddings and they forget that no amount of clothing or cake or flowers or fancy invitations is going to make you a bride. You can’t make yourself a bride. You are a bride because someone loves you…Unfortunately, no one ever says that on Bridezillas, which is why we need to turn off the TV and open up the Scriptures.”
This is what we are to see as we look to the past of John’s vision in Revelation, because that vision propels us right into the new heaven and the new earth to come.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” (vs. 3-4)
Got it? All the things of this world that we spend a lifetime trying to avoid will be taken away forever and ever. The tears and the death and the mourning and the pain of life! Oh, what we have to look forward to.
Then these words: “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.’ (v. 5) The assurance of that promise is placed before us in the next verse, “And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.’” (v. 6)
“I will give…without payment.” That’s the way it is with God’s love in Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ for every sin made the payment and that assures us a place in everlasting life.
The last promise is in verse 7. “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
So here we are this morning. The church. The Bride of Christ. And what do we see? So often, little of what God wants us to see. And that is because we are distracted. The visuals thrown around us day and night remind us we need to focus on the latest cell phone, the best pizza for your money, the political future of our country, and the latest movie or TV offering of violence and vulgarity. As David Schmitt noted, there in the distance is Eternity . . . by Calvin Klein. Everything is earth bound.
Through the Spirit we say no to all of this. We are the bride of Christ. We should be willing to enter the lives of those filled with sorrow and conflict and extend the love of Christ. This earth is choking itself to death and not on pollution. But on lies and scandals, and people with agendas no one can read – and few want to study – until it’s too late.
Jesus said to His bride on earth, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of the wolves, so be as wise as servants and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) And Jesus said to His Bride on earth, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)
This is where we are now. A bride seemingly unadorned, struggling and laboring in this world for Christ. But, we are also the company who sees the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. We are citizens of that new homeland. John writes, “…what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 2:2) Seeing what we need to see!