The Second Sunday of Easter
April 28, 2019
The Risen Christ Says…
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw— that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the almighty.” I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One. I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” (NIV1984)
Dear fellow worshipers of our Living Lord and Savior,
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
April 15th. What do we automatically associate with that day? For most of us the date April 15th automatically makes us think of one thing: taxes. July 4th. What do we automatically associate with that day? That is the day on which we celebrate our country’s independence. The second Sunday in May. What do we automatically associate with that day? That is the day on which we celebrate Mother’s Day.
All of those were pretty easy, yes? Now let me ask you this: The first Sunday after Easter. What do we often times associate with that day? For many pastors the first Sunday after Easter all but guarantees a low attendance as God’s people tend to “take a break” after attending all the Lenten and Holy Week services. For many of God’s people the first Sunday after Easter all but guarantees that they are going to hear a sermon on— “Doubting Thomas.” Not this year, my friends. Not today.
Today as you and I continue our celebration of Easter we are going to utilize the opportunity that is given to us in our Epistle lesson for this morning. As we turn our attention then to the opening section of Revelation chapter one let’s study this portion of Scripture under the theme: The Risen Christ Says…. There are two things we want to see today. First, let’s see what the risen Christ says to His servant, the apostle John. Then let’s see what the risen Christ says to us, His servants today.
Since there is so much contained in our sermon text for today we simply do not have enough time to touch on all of the truths that are recorded for us here. So, I invite you to take out your bulletins and keep them open to our text for today so that you can follow along as I highlight the portions of this text that we will study this morning.
In verse 11 and in verse 19 of our text the risen and ascended Christ very simply says to His servant John, “Write!” What is John to write about? Look at verse 19. The risen Christ says, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” While this passage certainly applies to the entire book of Revelation, today let’s see how this passage applies specifically to the portion of Revelation that serves as our text.
First, the risen Christ says to John, “Write, therefore, what you have seen….” What has the apostle John already seen? We find part of the answer to that question in verse five. John writes, “…and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead….” Now look at verse eighteen. Jesus says, “I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” As far as I can tell from my personal reading of Scripture, the apostle John was the only apostle who could say that he was an eyewitness of both the death and the physical resurrection of Jesus. John was there on Calvary as Jesus suffered and died for the sins of the world. (See John 19:25-27) John was the first of the apostles to understand that the empty grave in the garden on that first Easter morning meant that Jesus had physically risen from the dead just as He promised He would! (See and compare Luke 24:12 & John 20:8) Therefore when the risen Christ therefore says to John, “Write what you have seen…” that command does indeed encompass John’s eyewitness accounts of both Jesus’ death and His physical resurrection.
At the same time the risen and ascended Christ also says to John, “Write…what is now….” What does this include? First let me direct you to verses 12-16 of our text. It is the section that begins with “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me” and ends with the words “His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” John’s vision of the risen Christ in heaven is astounding, my friends! Using words that are reminiscent of the visions that were given to men such as Daniel and Isaiah this portion of our text emphasizes three important truths. It emphasizes that the risen Christ is indeed the victorious Conqueror. It emphasizes that the risen Christ is still with His Church here on this earth, ruling over it, interceding for us and protecting us. It emphasizes that the risen Christ is most certainly the LORD God Jehovah Himself!
Because the risen Christ is the one and only true God a crucial aspect of “what is now” is found in the second portion of verse five. John writes, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father— to him be glory and power for ever and ever!” Because the risen Christ is our victorious Savior God who loves us beyond measure we know that we have been “freed… from our sins by his blood.” As you have heard me say at least once or twice before— through faith in what the Lord’s Christ has done for us all of our sins are completely forgiven! Because the risen Christ is our victorious Savior God who loves us beyond measure we have a glorious purpose in life! The risen Christ Himself “has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father.” As the saved children of God we have the privilege of joyfully and thankfully serving our Savior God by using the gifts, talents and abilities that He has given to us to bring glory to His Name and to serve Him (Pointing to the cross) by serving each other as brothers and sisters in the faith.
Does this mean that our life now as the redeemed children of God here on this earth will be a “cakewalk”? No. Look at verse nine of our text: “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John had been sent into exile to the island of Patmos because he faithfully stood up for the Truth of God’s Word and because he boldly proclaimed Jesus as this world’s only Savior from sin. When you and I, my friends, strive to follow John’s example, when you and I refuse to compromise the Truth as God Himself has recorded it for us right here in His holy Word, as you and I boldly point people to the cross of the risen Christ as the only way to be saved— we too can encounter ridicule and opposition. Can we allow that ridicule to change what we believe, teach and confess? Can we allow the world’s opposition to the cross of our Savior (Pointing to the cross) to lead us to concede that there could possibly be another way to heaven other than by trusting in Jesus as one’s personal Savior from sin? Absolutely not! Why? The answer to that question is found in the final point we want to look at today.
The risen Christ Himself told the apostle John, “Write…what will take place later.” Ultimately, these words take us back to what the risen Christ says in verse 18 of our text, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” As the victorious Conqueror over sin, death and the devil the risen Christ has the power to raise all people from the dead— which is exactly what He will do on the Last Day! As the victorious Conqueror over sin, death and the devil the risen Christ has the power to rescue someone from an eternity of suffering in hell and usher them into the glory, perfection and happiness of His heavenly Kingdom! That’s why it is so important for us to stay close to the risen Christ now! Our close connection to Him now through regular use of His holy Word and Sacrament insures that for us “what will take place later” is that when it is time for our journey here on this earth to come to an end we will hear our Savior God say to us, “Welcome home, My child!”
At the same time we have friends, we have family members, we have co-workers, don’t we. “What will take place later” for them also includes standing before the judgment throne of the risen and victorious Christ. We want to do everything we can to share with them the “Good News,” the “Good News” that Jesus died to pay for their sins, the “Good News” that Jesus physically rose from the dead for them so that through faith in Him (Pointing to the cross) they can spend eternity with us in our heavenly Father’s home.
For the sake of the apostle John who was in exile on the island of Patmos and for the sake of the entire Christian Church right down to this very day the risen and ascended Christ came to John in this glorious vision and said, “Write what you see and send it to the seven churches…Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” What then does the risen Christ say to us, His servants today? Look at verse three. We read, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
“Read!” That is what the risen and ascended Christ now says to you and to me. Keep on reading about what the apostle John saw with his own two eyes. Then you will always have the confidence of knowing that Jesus died for your sins and was raised to life again for your justification. Keep on reading about “what is now.” Then you will always have the confidence of knowing that the risen Christ is indeed the victorious Conqueror who is now ruling over all things, protecting you from your enemies and interceding for you before the throne of our heavenly Father. Keep on reading about “what will take place later.” Then you will always have the confidence of knowing that through faith in what Jesus has done for you His Easter victory is your Easter victory. Then you will always have the confidence of knowing that one day, my friends, one day the risen Christ will come and take you Home so that you can experience and enjoy the epitome of His Easter victory for all of eternity!
To God be the glory!