Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sermon April 6-7, 2013

Title: Worthy is the Lamb and so too are all who are in Christ!

Text: Rev.5. 5:18-21

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And 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.

When he was the pastor of a church in Scarborough, William Sangster had an eccentric member who tried to be a zealous Christian. Unfortunately, the man was a bit mentally deficient and usually did the wrong thing. While working as a barber the man lathered up a customer for a shave, came at him with the poised razor, and asked in his best attempt to witness, "Are you prepared to meet your God?"  We, needless to say the frightened man fled with the lather still on his face!

W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers,  p. 215.

The question is a good one though. But for we who have been baptized into Christ’s death we can know for certain to:

Fear not! Christ is raised for you.

The Apostle John writing in the Book of Revelation writes about his encounter with our risen Lord. John writes:

 17” When I saw him”:

John had had a pretty loving relationship with Jesus during His earthly ministry. In fact, when Jesus refers to the disciple whom He loved - in John’s Gospel - it is commonly believed, though not specifically mentioned, that Jesus is referring to John. This makes it all the more interesting how John reacts to seeing the glorified Jesus.

“I fell at his feet as though dead.”

The sight of Jesus Christ in all his glory is too much even for one who Christ Jesus refers to the one He loved or even as - to my best friend. John can’t stand in His presence. He becomes overwhelmed and falls at his feet though dead. It seems that even though John knew what happened and saw the crucifixion of our Lord and then as he writes in John chapter 20 verse 6:

4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
Seeing the empty tomb and then the resurrected Lord; this encounter with the glorified Christ is more than John can bear. What was the vision that John saw that would make him react in this way? Well, let us read:

… and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

This is a pretty amazing description that we have here of Jesus Christ that John sees. Even when we consider that this type of writing is called apocalyptic literature and in many cases not to be taken in a literal sense, it is still a very powerful vision. We had a very in depth study of this a year or so ago and all the symbolism that is represented.

Jesus though, comes to John through the midst of fear and in an act of love lays His right hand on him:

…saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

In other words, Jesus is saying:

Fear not! I AM raised for you.

You and I too find ourselves at times covered by fear. Whether it is the situations we can control on the things that we can’t control at time we can all be consumed by fear.

The fear of our work situation and financial struggle can one of those times. It might be a housing situation or impending foreclosure that gets the best of us. You can also at times feel unable to cope and be driven to other means of coping. Sometimes you find help and your situation has a positive outcome and at other times you feel that you’ve been abandoned and that God either doesn't hear or care about you and your problems.

Death or the impending death of a loved one can also be one of those times. Does god hear, is He concerned with me and this life that is fading away? Even when we don’t hear the audible voice that John heard saying, “Fear not!” You can know that the word of the Lord in Psalm 55:22 says:

22 Cast your burden on the LORD,
    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved.

Twenty five years ago on April 1st my mother passed away from cancer at 57 years of age. As I stand here today at 57, her death brings this loss for me into a different perspective. Maybe you have a similar story. My sister sent an email out to me and my two brothers. She was drawn to this loss again because she was very close to my mom, as we all were but for a daughter there might be an even tighter bond.

My sister Bonnie wrote in her email about my mother’s passing:

“Well, it’s been 25 years since we lost Mom.  I wasn't expecting it to get to me so much. I’m thinking about how much do I remember of my life before I started kindergarten (age 5), so I feel like she’s been gone half my life.  It bothers me that I have a hard time remembering what her voice sounded like even though I know I talked to her every day.  I wish I had a voice mail message I could listen to, but I’m not sure we had answering machines then.  I usually never let the day she died get to me and I never want to focus on that day.

I have an envelope that she wrote my name on, that although tattered and old and falling apart, I hang on to because it’s her writing. I was going through a box of stuff that I’ve had in my closet forever – junior high and high school stuff, stuff from my first jobs, etc. and came across a bunch of cards signed Love, Mom and Dad (of course she signed them all) and I cried.”

I answered her email with:

“I thought about mom as I was doing Good Friday service. She died on April 1st but in 1988 that also happened to be Good Friday 25 years ago ... It kind of wrecked Easter for me that year, if I remember well. It was very hard on me too. But, today as I think about mom, I have a different feeling from the loss I felt then, as I know she trusted Jesus for her salvation because she told me so in the hospital and I know that she is in heaven with Him, so I have great comfort knowing that I will see her again – and you will too!”

Fear not! Christ is raised for you.

I’m sure you all can relate to the story of my sister’s pain and loss from her email. I did, and so did Jesus. When his friend Lazarus died, if you remember God’s word tells us that Jesus wept. (John 11:35) The same response my sister had thinking about the loss of her mother 25 years ago. That loss can bring even today the same reaction.

But, Christ has conquered death and because He lives those who trust in him will live too.

As Jesus made clear to the Apostle John:

I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Rev.1:18b)

Sin, death and the power of the Devil have all been triumphed over by the one who we celebrated here last week as He rose from the grave. He didn’t die so that death reigned over our lives but he died so that by His death we might be freed from our sin and just as he has been raised we will be too!

Fear not! Christ is raised for you and for all who trust in this Good News!

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

God calls all to come to faith through this Gospel message. That Jesus came to live the sinless life we couldn't and now promises to take us to the place that He has prepared for us. He also says:

7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Those who reject Him will too see His second coming but their reaction will not be one of joy but they will wail on account of Him.

Thanks be to God that by faith in Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit in us, we will see Jesus and be welcomed into His everlasting home and that the fear of the tribulations of this life will all be swallowed up in the victory of the Lamb.

We will not have to fear the crazed barber who with the razor in hand might come and ask, “Are you are prepared to meet your God?”  Because we know that in Christ the answer is always, “Yes, I am prepared!”

God comfort you with this Good News by the Holy Spirit work in you.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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