Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Worthy Is the Lamb - Easter Sunrise - April 20, 2014 - Text: Revelation 5:11-14
He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! And so we greet each other with joy and enthusiasm on this joyous Easter morning.
Our text is Revelation 5:11-14: 11Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. This is our text.
Our theme for this year focuses our attention on the main character of the Passion, even the main character throughout the history of Israel and the Christian Church, the Lamb. We began with the promise of a Savior and the first sacrifice made to clothe Adam and Eve. We followed God’s giving of the sacrificial system as a way of reminding people that the price for sin is death, that blood had to be shed. We saw the lamb as the main character pointing us toward the One Lamb of God and His once and for all sacrifice on the cross. Last Thursday we witnessed Jesus giving us His Holy Supper wherein He gives us His body and blood to eat and drink, thus participating in His life and His death. And last Friday we witnessed His death on the cross, taking our sins and paying the price. This morning we gather and we celebrate as we participate in His resurrection foreshadowing our own resurrection to eternal life where He will welcome us into His heavenly home and robe us with His robes of righteousness.
As we have been doing every week, we begin at the beginning. We begin with God’s creation of all things out of nothing creating heaven and earth in perfection and without sin. God created a perfect world and then He created a perfect man and a perfect woman whom He placed in a perfect Garden which He created for them. In the beginning all things were perfect and holy, without sin and with out death. Yet, that did not last long as Satan tempted Eve and Adam, they disobeyed God and sinned and thus the sin of Adam and Eve brought punishment from God.
As a punishment for their sin of disobedience, God cursed the world and yet, in His curse He also gave a promise. He promised that He would take care of the sin of Adam and Eve because He knew that, because of their fallen nature they could not take care of their sin themselves, He promised to send a Savior who would substitute His life for theirs.
As time went on, God chose the line through which the Savior would be born and that line would be through the line of Abraham. Now remember, God’s promise was made in the Garden of Eden when there was only Adam and Eve before there was a Jew or a Gentile. God continued to narrow the line of fulfillment for the birth of the Messiah through the line of Judah and later the line of King David.
In the Old Testament, as the Children of Israel escaped slavery in Egypt, in order to remind the people of the cost and price for sin, God set up the sacrificial system. Animals were to be sacrificed and yet those sacrifices did nothing in and of themselves, they were simply meant to point to the one ultimate sacrifice of the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer on the cross.
In the New Testament we get to Jesus. Jesus was conceived, born and lived in perfection, obeying all God’s laws and promises perfectly. What God commanded Adam and Eve to do, what God commanded the whole nation of Israel to do, yes, even what God commands of us, and what we cannot do, Jesus did perfectly. Because He is truly God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, He was born in perfection and thus was able to live life in perfection.
Because He was born of the human woman, Mary, Jesus as truly a human being could and was our substitute, taking our sins and the sins of all people, of all places, of all times on Himself and then suffering, shedding His blood and dying to pay the price for our sins. Yet, death and the grave had no power over Him as we so joyously celebrate today that is that He rose from the dead.
After showing Himself to be alive for forty days, Jesus ascended back to the place from which He had descending even back into heaven. Jesus continues to sit at the right hand of the Father, watching over us, ruling over us and interceding for us. This fact does not mean to locate Jesus as He still continues to be everywhere present.
In the near future, and I would suggest sooner than we know and sooner than we might imagine, Jesus will return to gather us and all the saints and to take us and all the saints to be with Himself in heaven for eternity.
In our text for this morning we get a glimpse of heaven. In our text John sees the joy of heaven. He sees the living creatures, the elders, the many angels numbering myriads and thousands of thousands. And he hears the loud voice praising the Lamb of God who was slain, who was crucified for our sins.
There are some people who struggle with the death of God suggesting that God cannot die. To the question of God’s death, John says God did die, He died in Christ. Just as you and I have a body and a soul, so Jesus was truly God with a body. When Jesus died He died a bodily death, and yet Jesus also died an eternal spiritual death that is He suffered hell, the punishment of hell for us in our place.
Jesus is the perfect Lamb that was slain. Just as the sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed to Him, just as those unblemished lambs gave their lives pointing to this one Lamb, so Jesus gave His life, suffering and dying, not pointing to Himself, but offering Himself.
As we often hear, especially in the Lord’s Supper as we are given Jesus’ true body to eat, we hear that His body is given for you so we know that Jesus died for us. The price for sin was set in the Garden of Eden, death, physical death and apart from Jesus, apart from faith in Jesus eternal spiritual death, hell. Jesus died for our sins, paying the price for sin. Jesus died a physical death and He suffered eternal spiritual death in hell for us, in our place.
Jesus death paid the price in full and was enough. Anytime anyone tells you that you must do something to be saved, to earn or pay for any or all of your sins, all they are telling you is that Jesus’ death was not enough. One plus anything equals the anything. Grace plus anything equals the anything. So, if you are told you are saved by grace but all you have to do is something, then you are not saved by grace, but by the all you have to do. That we are saved by grace means that Jesus’ death was enough and there is nothing left to do, nothing.
Jesus paid for our sins on Calvary and now in divine service He distributes the gifts He earned, forgiveness of sins and eternal life. As we are reminded of and as we remember our baptism we are given forgiveness and strengthened in our faith. As we confess our sins and hear our Lord’s words of forgiveness, “your sins are forgiven,” we know we have forgiveness of sins and with forgiveness, life and salvation. As we hear God’s Word, faith comes by hearing, we are given faith, forgiveness and life, as God’s Word indeed is efficacious and does what it says. And as we come to the Lord’s Holy Table, as we eat His body and drink His blood, we participate in His life, death and resurrection.
In our text for this morning, continuing to follow the theme of the Lamb, this morning we are reminded that when our last hour arrives, either at our own passing or at the Lord’s return, both of which I believe will be sooner than we know and sooner than we might expect, when our last hour arrives we will be brought into our Lord’s kingdom and we will sing to our Lord. We will sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” We will sing, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
What a great God we have. What a loving, gift giving God we have. Our God does it all and gives it all to us and we, we are given to. And even when we refuse and reject the gifts, He is there continually being ready to give them to us. This morning we once again rejoice and celebrate our great God. We celebrate His resurrection and the fact that we worship a living God. And as we celebrate we do look forward to that day when we will stand before the Lord’s throne, with all the saints who have gone on before us, clothed in our Lord’s robes of righteousness and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.