St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

I Am Coming Soon

Sermon on Revelation 22:12-17, 20

Text: “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.

When someone special is coming to your house, you feel a sense of anticipation. Children, in particular, show their eagerness for that person to come. How many of us don’t remember sitting and waiting for our grandparents or aunts and uncles to come? It seemed as though they would never get to our house. The hours dragged. However, when they finally did show up, can you remember the joy that filled your heart when you saw their car pulling into the driveway? There are few feelings like the one when a long-expected, loved one comes to your house. We, as Christians, are also eagerly waiting for a return, as well. We are waiting for Jesus to return to earth. Again and again in the New Testament we find references to Jesus’ return. This morning, we will look at our text using Jesus’ words, I AM COMING SOON. 1. Are You Ready? 2. Then Say, “Come.”

We all know about special preparations when a guest comes to stay at our house. The house is cleaned, especially the room where the guest will stay. Special meals are prepared. Everything is made special and clean in anticipation of the arrival of our guest.

So, also, we are to be prepared for the return of our Savior. Jesus promises us twice in our text, “I am coming soon.” Verse 12 says, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” When Jesus returns, he will not come empty-handed. He has a reward for us. So that we might know exactly who it is that is speaking to us, he gives us a description of himself: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Verse 13) With this description, Jesus reminds us that he us the Son of God, who is from eternity to eternity. He encompasses all things. The Son of God is the one who is coming soon.

Indeed, if we make special preparations for the arrival of a houseguest, how much greater should our preparation be for the Son of God! Yet, how do we get ready for the return of the Son of God? Surely, it is more than special baking, fine meals, and a clean house! What makes us ready? It does have to do with cleanliness, but not of our physical houses. In verse 14, Jesus speaks of those who are ready, “Blessed are those who wash their robes.” Here we have the cleanliness that Jesus looks for. The clean robes are a holy life.

That statement might terrify us. Jesus looks for clean lives. ‘Look at my life! It is full of sin! All around me I see the stains of my sins. Here, I see where I was angry without reason. Over there, I see where I held back what properly belongs to God. Over, there I see the things I told about someone else that I had no right to share, even though it was true, because it harmed their reputation.’ As I look at my sin-filled, dirty life, I could be in a panic. Surely, I am not ready for Jesus to return. Who would want to come to a mess like this?

We all would be in such a panic, the Last Day would fill us with great dread, if something else hadn’t happened. There is a way to make these houses sparkling clean. There is a way to get rid of those stains. It involves washing. However, the strongest detergents won’t do the job. No matter how hard I scrub, I can’t clean my life. I am only clean when the robe of my life is washed clean in the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Normally, we would think it odd to wash in blood and be clean. Yet, the blood of Jesus Christ is different, for it is holy. Jesus never sinned while he lived on this earth. He alone earned eternal life. However, he allowed himself to be put to death. While he suffered, he paid for every sin that we have ever committed. He took our place, suffering the pains of hell. God took his righteousness and gave it to us. We wash our lives in Jesus’ blood and are holy and perfect in God’s sight. Only faith in Jesus as our Savior makes us truly ready for his return. Jesus is the one who makes us clean. He is the one who makes us ready.

Look at the reward that Jesus offers those who are ready: “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.” (Verse 14) The city that Jesus is speaking of is heaven. Throughout this portion of the book of Revelation, John is given visions of heaven. The believer enters their homeland. They have the right to the tree of life. The other time that the tree of life is mentioned is being located in the Garden of Eden. Those who eat of this tree will have eternal life. This is the priceless reward that Jesus will bring with him at the end of time.

Jesus also adds a warning in verse 15, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” There will be those who will be excluded from heaven. They are outside the heavenly city’s walls. Jesus calls them “dogs.” These dogs are not the beloved family pet, but ugly, wild strays that roamed the streets. This was a term of scorn. These are people who practiced superstition. They were sexually immoral. They put the things of this world ahead of God. In short, they lived and practiced a lie, the same lie that the devil has misled people with since the Garden of Eden. ‘I am my own god and I can do whatever I please.’ How often don’t we hear this type of thinking promoted in our world today?

Why are they excluded, and not us? Jesus died for their sins, just as he did for ours. There is one difference, however. Those who will be excluded chose their sinful ways over Jesus’ loving forgiveness. They wanted to continue in their sinful ways during this life on the earth. God tells them that, since they wanted to be without him during their lives, they will be without him for all eternity. He will cast them into hell.

This is not a popular way of thinking in today’s society. No one wants to be told that what they are doing is wrong. They try to explain it as an “alternate lifestyle,” “tissue removal,” or “a woman’s choice to do what she wishes with her own body.” “Surely, if there is a God, he wouldn’t send anyone to hell!” People don’t want to hear that there is an absolute right and wrong. However, we must continue to confess to the truth. Sin must be called sin, for that is the only way that people can realize that what they are doing is wrong, so that they can turn from it and turn to God. This prepares them for Jesus’ return. It may be uncomfortable now, but think of the consequences for that person, if we don’t warn them. They would be lost forever. Let us be prepared and may God help us to continue to spread the message of sin and grace to the world.

In verse 20, Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” When John heard this, a prayer went forth from his lips, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” The word “Amen” so a Greek word meaning, ‘Yes, it shall be so.’ When Jesus said that he was going to come again, John prayed that it would happen. John’s prayer is one that we can all join in. Because we have been brought to faith, we are ready for Jesus’ return and say, “Come.” How we long for that day when we will see him face to face.

How do we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus?” There are, of course, the words that we find in our text. However, the old adage is so true, “Actions speak louder than words.” Do our actions always show that we would like Jesus to come? Do our actions, sometimes, say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus – but not right now.’ My friends, let us strive to live lives that are keeping with what our mouths say. Why? Because we deserved to be among those dogs that are outside the city of heaven. Our sins, too, had separated us from God. We, also, deserved hell. However, God loved us so much that he sent his Son to rescue us by his death and resurrection. He gave his very best for us. May we do the same! May our lives be a grateful response to God’s grace. We pray that Jesus would come, and we show that we want Jesus to come by the way that we live our lives. It is true that we will continue to sin. However, when we do, may we come to our Father for forgiveness. Being assured that it is ours, let us go and live lives devoted to him. Let us show ourselves to be ready and pray, “Come.”

A popular children’s game is “Hide and Seek.” While the person, who is “It,” is counting, the others hurry to hide. When the person who is “It” gets to a certain number, he shouts, “Ready or not, here I come.” He goes looking for the hidden. They hope that they will not be found. Indeed, there will come a day, when Jesus will day, “Ready or not, here I come.” He will return to the earth. There will be no hiding places, for all will stand before Jesus, whether they were ready or not. Those who were not ready will hear that terrifying sentence of eternal punishment. However, those who were ready, those who believed in Jesus as their Savior, will hear a gracious message of eternal happiness in heaven. May we, with God’s help, continue to prepare ourselves. Let us be constantly ready, for we do not know when Jesus will return. We do have the promise that he will return. May we respond, as John did, to Jesus’ announcement, “Yes, I am coming soon,” by praying, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Amen.