Sermon on Revelation 1:4b-8
Text: 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, 5 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, 6 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.
7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
This morning, we focus our attention on Jesus Christ as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We see Jesus in all his splendor as the Ruler of all things. This is often not the picture we use when we think of Jesus. We see him as a gentle teacher. We think of him as one who suffered and died for the sins of all people. We rejoice as we hear of him rising from the dead. This morning, we shift our focus ever so slightly, as we see Jesus in all of his glory. Let us today PRAISE THE ETERNAL SAVIOR WHO WATCHES OVER US. First of all, we note that 1. He Has Demonstrated His Love For Us. Secondly, we will see that 2. He Rules Over All Things As The Almighty Lord.
The book of Revelation was written by John, as he sat in exile on the island of Patmos. He was being punished for proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ. A great persecution was being undertaken by the foes of the Christian church. God gave John this revelation to comfort the Christians of then, and now, as well. He shows us in this book that, no matter how hard Satan may threaten and growl, the Christian Church will remain. God is with her, protecting and guiding her.
John begins the letter with very familiar words. “Grace and peace to you.” Grace, as you recall is God’s undeserved love for us. It is a choosing to love when the other is unlovable. What a wonderful thing to be reminded of as the readers were undergoing their persecution. What a wonderful thing for us to be reminded of every single day of our lives. Because of God’s grace, we have peace; peace with God and with those around us.
This grace and the resulting peace come to us through Jesus Christ. He is described in verse 5, “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” In these few words, we have the three-fold office of Jesus referred to. He is a prophet, priest and king. Jesus is “the faithful witness.” He has revealed God’s Word to us. He did not only do this while he was on the earth, as he went from place to place, preaching and teaching. He has seen to it that his Word remains to this day, so that you and I might know what he has done for us. This is in fulfillment of the prophecy that Moses made in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” Jesus fulfilled and continues to fulfill this office as a prophet.
Jesus is also referred to as “the firstborn from the dead.” This brings to mind the office that he carried out as our great high priest. The Old Testament priests offered sacrifices and interceded for the people of Israel. Jesus offered the one time sacrifice that was necessary to free us from our sins. That sacrifice was himself. When he suffered and died, he paid the debt that we owed to God because our sins. That debt has been paid in full. Later in verse 6, this point is brought forward, as it refers to what Jesus did for us, “[Jesus] has freed us from our sins by his blood.” You and I have been set free from the sins that would have condemned us to hell. We are free from the guilt of them. Now when God sees us, he sees us as sinless, perfect, which is the requirement for entering heaven. Not only has Jesus freed us from their guilt, we are also freed from their power. In other words, we don’t have to give in to the temptations to sin. We can say, “No, I don’t want to do or say that. That’s not how I want to act. I want to give thanks to God with my entire life.” Now when we face the temptation to say something bad about someone, we can tell ourselves, that we are going to speak the best about others and not the worst. When we have to opportunity to forgive someone, we will want to do so, and not after they have proved themselves sorry enough for what they have done, but even before that time. We want to forgive as God has forgiven us. Because Jesus fulfilled his office of our high priest, we have been set free from our sins.
The third of Jesus’ three-fold office is referred to when it says that he is “the ruler of the kings of the earth.” Jesus, as the Son of God, governs all other rulers and uses them to carry out his divine purposes. The Church has always been persecuted, sometimes in a more physical sense, as in John’s day. More often, it is under attack through attempts to discredit its teachings or demeaning its values. Yet, we are told that the Church will endure to the end of time. Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, will continue to watch over her and prosper her.
The reason that Jesus did and continues to do all of this is “love.” That is why this section started with the words, “grace and peace.” It was completely God’s undeserved love that accomplished all of this. It is because of this that we have peace. Jesus demonstrated his love for us very clearly while he was here on the earth. He continues to show that love as he protects and provides for us. We will see the full extent of that love when we are in heaven with him, either on the day of our death or the Last Day. We praise our eternal Savior, who has watched over us and will continue to do so.
This coming on the Last Day is referred to in verse 7, “‘Look, he is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see him, even those who pierced him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.’ So shall it be! Amen.” People won’t have to wonder if that day is Judgment Day or not. Everyone will see him return. The angels told the disciples this as they watched him ascend into heaven forty days after his resurrection, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” “Every eye will see him” including, as our text says, “even those who pierced him.” This, of course, would refer to all who were involved in Christ’s crucifixion. However, it also refers to all unbelievers, who crucify him anew when they reject him. They do not see his value to them. So, on that Day, they will see Jesus as a righteous Judge, who will condemn them for their lack of faith. The time for repentance has come to an end. They will face that day with terror and mourning.
That day, however, will be a day of great joy for the believer. Then Jesus will come back in all of his glory. We will see him as he is. We will behold him in his glory and praise him forever. How we long for that day when Christ comes and all shall behold him.
In the meantime, however, it may seem like it is taking forever for Jesus to return on the Last Day. There is a danger in that thinking. We might become careless in our faith, thinking that Jesus hasn’t come yet, so why should he come now? Rather, we want to watch and pray because, as Jesus told us, “You do not know when that time will come.”
As we think about the time until Jesus returns, it might seem, at times, as though the forces against us and the Church at large are overwhelming. How comforting it is then to read the closing verse of our text, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Jesus refers to himself as the “Alpha and Omega.” Those are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. We might say the “A and the Z.” Through this figure of speech, Jesus is showing us that he is all-inclusive. He is eternal. He was there at the beginning of all things. He will be there at the end of things. The same Jesus who loved us enough to save us and have us brought to faith will continue to be with us to the end.
In addition to this, Jesus refers to himself as “the Almighty.” He is all powerful. There is no enemy stronger than he is. Though the devil may roar with all of his intensity, Jesus is still more powerful. He can and will protect us from all that would threaten us. In addition, there is nothing that is impossible for him to do. The same one who created the universe cares for you. Since he is all powerful and can do all things, he is able to keep all of the promises that he has made to you. He has promised to care for you. You can be sure that he will. He has promised to hear all of our prayers. Therefore, we can approach his throne of grace with all boldness and confidence. He has promised that we will be with him in heaven. We know that will take place. How do we know this? Because Jesus, as our Almighty God, who rules all things, has said it will be so.
There are few places on the earth today that have kings. The kings that do exist today, often are mere figureheads, wielding little power. Some of the rulers and kings of the past have been despicable in their treatment of the subjects. Today, as we focus our attention on the King of kings and the Lord of lords, we see a completely different king. We see a king who is all-powerful, who also loves us very much. He has used and will continue his power for the good of his subjects. Rather than fearing this almighty king, we want to praise him. May all of our lives do this, as we wait for the time when we can do it eternally. Amen.
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