12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Revelation 22:12-17, 20
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be? Would you pick someone from one of your favorite movies, the person who sings your favorite song, someone who fought at the Alamo, a friend or family member who has passed away, or someone from the Heroes of Faith chapter of the Bible from Hebrews 11? We like to ask ourselves who we would like to have dinner with because it satisfies some desire. We may desire laughter from a comedic actor, trying a duet with our favorite singer, discovering historic details from a battle not recorded in the history books, one more hug from grandma or asking Abraham and Sarah what it was like to have a kid at 90 and 100. Our desire for something is wrapped up in who we would want to have dinner with. In our reading from Revelation 22, reveals that God’s desire is for his people to say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
Revelation 22 is the last chapter of the book of Revelation. Revelation was like nothing the Apostle John had ever seen before and it continues to puzzle many today. At first glance, the book may seem to contain images and numbers that go beyond our understanding, but in this last chapter, Jesus clarified what the whole book is about saying, 17 “…Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” The simple message of Revelation is, one, Jesus and his church are victorious over the devil and all those who do evil. Two, Jesus brings us onto the winning side for free. And three, Jesus will take his people to be with him in heaven forever, while the devil and those who rejected Jesus will be sent to hell. Jesus’ final words, 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon,” give us a sense of urgency as we hold on to him and point others to him until he comes.
When Jesus comes back, the book of Revelation reveals that there will be two groups of people. On the one hand, John wrote, 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” These blessed are those who believe in Jesus as their Savior. They have washed their robes in Jesus’ sacrificial blood and are cleansed from all their sins. Through Jesus, they have life and will enter heaven. On the other hand, John wrote, 15 “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” These outside the city of God, are those who did not believe in Jesus. They did all kinds of evil and will not enter heaven but go to hell. The two groups John identified, each will meet a different end, but both need the same thing. Both groups need their sins removed, but one trusts in Jesus for forgiveness and the other loves, in the Greek φῐ́λος, or befriends what is false leaving them lost.
In time, we will find out who belongs to each of the two groups mentioned in Revelation. Revelation gives us a summary of the future. In the future, there will be a separation between believers and unbelievers, but that separation is not always easy to see while we are on earth. More important than seeing the separation though is the desire to have everyone on the one side of trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and life. So often, our desire to see the future now in order to know who is going to be blessed in heaven or burning in hell ruins the desire God wants us to have. God keeps us from being able to see clearly who believes and who does not believe. We cannot see, it is not for us to know, instead we must share the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness and life with everyone we see hoping they will believe.
In our reading from Acts 16, Paul was traveling with his fellow missionaries with that desire to share Jesus. They planned to do mission work in what is modern Turkey, but while they were traveling, 9 …Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” God gave Paul a vision to guide him where to go and he has done the same for us. In John’s vision, here in Revelation 22:17, he wrote, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” The Holy Spirit and the bride, an image used throughout the New Testament referring to all believers, both have the same mission to call people to “come” to Jesus. Our message is come to Jesus for free and complete forgiveness and life.
Our eagerness to share Jesus with others is put to the test by time in this world. There are times when our eagerness to share Jesus shines and then there are times when our desire dwindles. So often this happens when look at those who do not know Jesus as the enemy, rather than those in need. Our society is split on so many issues that this bleeds over into our own hearts. We begin to draw up battle lines with those caught in sin ready to blast them with what they need to do differently in their lives, or we write them off as if already dead in the trenches walking right by them without any word at all. We are tempted by time in this world to become calloused, so that we only think of ourselves and those like us begging Jesus to “Come Quickly.” Jesus reminds us that once we were all lost, we can still be tempted away from Jesus and if we do not have love for those who don’t know Jesus in own our hearts, then we do not share the desires of our Savior’s heart.
This world tests us. In it, our faith is tested by temptations, even the temptation to twist our mission to share Jesus with others into using God’s Word as a weapon rather than as medicine. The relief we need while waiting for heaven comes from what God has done for us. Only through Jesus’ testimony, are our hearts changed to say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
In our reading today beginning at Revelation 22:12, Jesus revealed what he will bring when he comes back to earth. Jesus said, 12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. This is the description of what will happen on Judgment Day. Here Jesus revealed that he has the power and the authority as God, to judge all people saying, 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Jesus made the rules and he will come to enforce them. For those who believe, Jesus will remember their fruits of faith and forget their sins. They will welcome Jesus’ return and judgment because they will be given heaven. For those who do not believe, Christ only remembers their sin and they will have no reward, only judgment for their sins.
Jesus’ purpose for giving us his testimony of what will happen when he returns on Judgment Day is so that no one will be left in the group bound for judgment. He shows us what is coming so that we will be ready for it and preparing others. In our gospel reading from the night Jesus was betrayed in John 17, Jesus prayed with the future in mind. He said, 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. (meaning his disciples) I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” Jesus knew his message would go out into the world and he prayed for all who would believe it. And, he continued to pray, 26 “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” Jesus revealed himself as the Savior by keeping all of the prophecies of the virgin birth, perfect life, suffering, death and resurrection. He continues to make himself known through his Word recorded and shared by his people. He wants all people to hear his Word and believe in his free forgiveness, love and eternal life in heaven.
When you and I pray that Jesus would come quickly so that we could be in heaven, he gives us this promise for relief as we wait, 17 “Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Jesus is coming soon to give relief to his people. Washed in the blood of the victorious Lamb, we will be seen as good and righteous, acceptable and ready for heaven. While we wait for heaven, our thirsty hearts drink in the free gift of the water of life. While we wait, our desires are on heavenly things. Our desires are no longer to make friends with lies, lust and loathing, but for people and their souls.
Many of us have a long list of people we would love to have dinner with to fulfill some desire. For Christians, there is always one person they trust is with them every time they eat. A common prayer said by Christians before they eat begins with the words, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.” In our reading from Revelation 22, Jesus reveals that he is the one who comes to give the thirsty the free gift of the water of life. And until he comes, let’s invite those who are on the outside of God’s kingdom in to hear the good news of Jesus and trust the Spirit to work faith in their hearts. Three times in Revelation 22, Jesus said, “I am coming quickly.” Let’s pray that in response to Jesus’ words, many would join us to say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Amen.