Do you have anyone coming over for the holidays? Family? Friends? Third cousins twice removed? Ever notice how your preparation for guests depends on who the guest is?
For instance, if my mom is coming to visit I’ll deep clean the house, strategically place photographs of my family on all of the walls, and make sure that there are only organic, Gluten free, healthy food choices lining our shelves.
It's different with my college buddies. No cleaning required, a couple of old WWF DVDs on hand, and a bunch of bags of Doritos ready for supper—and lunch.
What if Jesus was coming to your house? What would you do? Throw out your explicit rap CDs? Dust a few Bibles off their shelves and place them opened on the tables? Print off some inspirational Scripture verses and hang them on your wall? ("I always have these up Jesus!") Train your live in boyfriend to say, “No, I’m just stopping by for a visit. I don’t live here.” What would you do if Jesus was coming?
Guess what? Jesus is coming. He’s coming for you! Take a look at Revelation 22. It’s our final vision and in this vision John sees and hears Jesus saying this, “Behold, I am coming soon!” Listen to the words that John hear from Jesus himself:
Take a look at that first phrase. Notice that adverb. “Soon.” That’s very nonspecific, isn’t it? The Packer game will happen soon. Thanksgiving is coming soon. Christmas is coming soon. This sermon might get done…’soon.’
Since it is so general, I fear we can often delay getting ready. But that's not smart NOR is it what Jesus wants us to do. The word implies urgency. Jesus is very specific. He is coming soon. Not later. Not after a while. Not after a delay. “I am coming soon.” Whether he comes for you specifically to take you to heaven OR whether returns on the Last Day – Jesus wants you to be ready, because either one of those things could happen at any time.
Now you might be thinking, “So what? Why should I prepare to see Jesus? What’s the big deal? What makes him any different than preparing to see my dentist?” The next part of the text gives us three reasons why Jesus coming is a big deal. Look at verses 12-13, “My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
1) Jesus is Bringing an Awesome Reward
Whenever my grandma visits, she always brings gifts. Specifically, she always bring Chex Mix. It’s delicious. So…when I know she is coming, I get excited for such an awesome gift.
What is Jesus’ gift? It’s better than Chex Mix. It’s heaven! Remember last week’s sermon – Heaven is a pretty sweet gift. Heaven means no more evil. Heaven means no more sin. Heaven means Jesus is completely and absolutely victorious forever. Heaven means Jesus wins. Heaven means no more temptation, no more fear, no more guilt, and no more pain! Heaven means that Jesus rules and we are servants in his kingdom. Heaven means people of all races, nations, and cultures joining together in one loud continuous Hallelujah to the King!
Heaven is awesome. It’s the awesome gift Jesus brings. Since he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Jesus is in control of all things. He's the start of all things. He is the end of all things. He alone is the reason that you have life on this earth. He alone will be the reason that anyone has life in heaven!
Heaven is not too difficult of a gift for Jesus to produce.
2) This Reward Depends on What You have Done
Look at what verse 12 reminds us, “I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Simply put. God will give you heaven if you have earned it.
Remember the old Raisin Bran commercials? They said, “You deserve to scoops of Raisin Bran.” And maybe you do. Maybe you smile enough to deserve two scoops of oats and raisins. But…what about heaven? Have you done enough to earn it? Have you done enough to earn an eternity of evil-less, joyful existence with the perfect and all holy God?
Look at what happens if you haven't done enough to earn heaven 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.”
Being outside of heaven isn’t where anyone wants to be. Time to rethink your actions.
3) This Reward Depends on The King’s Opinion
Now it’s real easy to hear that declaration and think, “I’m fine. God and I are good. I’m in a decent position to get to heaven.”
But consider verse 13. Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega. The First and the Last. The Beginning and the End.” There is no one else who has the authority he does. No one ever has. No one ever will. He is the one who always has ruled. He is the one who is ruling right now. He is the one who will rule into eternity.
Despite what the world wants you to think: YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE. You never have been. You never will be. You aren’t in charge of your life. You aren’t in charge of whether your morality was good enough. You aren’t in charge of if you should be let into heaven.
If that were the case, we'd have hundreds of billions of different standards of morality each being declared by one person (the one who lived that morality) as "good enough."
Your opinion doesn’t count when it comes to whether you should get into heaven or not. That matter is decided by God himself.
Brothers and sisters, do you see the urgency? You don’t know when Jesus is coming and when he comes he will only hand out the reward of heaven to you if you have done enough good in his own eyes!!!!
So, stop putting this off. Stop waiting to get ready for Jesus "until I get older, have kids, and it's important for them." Get ready now!
How? How do you get ready to meet this Eternal, all Holy King when he returns? It has nothing to do with cleaning up your house or making a nice pie. It has everything to do with making sure your spiritual self is right with God. And there is only one way to do that. Look at verse 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."
Certain places enforce a strict dress code. Private schools might require students to wear a polo and khakis. A fancy restaurant might require a tie. Most gas stations require you to wear shoes and a shirt.
What do you need to wear to get into heaven? A clean life worn like a beautiful robe. As you might have noted, our sins sully our clothes. They set in deep. They are impossible to remove. Our clothing is filthy and grimy like the clothing of one of those Spartan Races who trudges through a mud obstacle.
But blessed are those who wash their robes.
Jesus' robes weren't white. Not on Good Friday. On Good Friday, they were stained by the blood of brutal beatings, the dirt of falling on the ground, and the sweat of a failing body.
But what happened to His clothing on the outside, is nothing compared to the staining that happened to his soul on the inside.
He took on your guilt.
He took on your sin.
He took on your impossible to get out stains.
And He got rid of them.
Blessed are those who wash their robes. Not in Tide. Not in bleach. Not in their own efforts. But in the blood of the Lamb. The blood of our Savior. Because in Jesus, the dirtiness of our sinful addictions is washed off. In the waters of baptism, the slime of sexual sin is removed. The blood of our Lord penetrates even the deepest stains of pride and completely clean us off! Then, with faith in Jesus as your Savior, you wear Jesus’ perfect life as your clean, white robe. You are dressed appropriately “You may go through the gates into the city.”
How is that last statement so confident? Through faith in Jesus I will be in heaven!?! How can anyone possibly say it so confidently?
Because they have been cleaned to the specifications of the one in charge of setting the cleanliness specifications for heaven!
Think about it: In your household, who does the best job on the dishes? It’s usually mom, right? Mom is picky about those dishes being clean. She doesn’t want any smudges on the glasses or an crusty food in the corner of the oatmeal bowl. So when mom does the dishes, there are no send backs. Every dish is clean. Every dish passes her inspection and specifications.
Similarly, the one who determines whether you are ‘holy’ and able to enter heaven – is also the one who promises in Scripture to clean up your sin filled life and makes it Holy. He promises “I really hate sin and I really demand perfection. So I’m gonna do this myself. I’m going to live perfectly. I’m going to die innocently. I’m going to rise triumphantly. Then, you will put your faith in me. And with your faith in me, all of your sin will be removed. You will fit my standard of cleanliness…You will be perfect.”
By the way, THIS IS ALL TRUTH!
Look at what Jesus says next in verse 16, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.” It’s important that Jesus says this. It’s so easy to doubt the message of sins forgiven and the promise of Jesus’ righteous robes covering our sinful flesh. But look at these words again! This isn’t something the pastor made up. It is a message from Jesus himself. Remember: Jesus gave this message to John who wrote it down and who had his scroll copied at which point a translator translated it, then printers printed it, Biblegateway put up a web page, our church secretary copy and pasted and then printed, I presented and you read it. But it still came from Jesus! Your King! The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End…the one who has the authority to make such powerful declarations again and again: He is the One who speaks this message to you!
Get Ready! Consider what the last couple of verses mean for your preparation:
1) He is The ROOT…so stay connected to Him. Just like a root sucks up nutrients and passes them on to the rest of the plants, so Jesus nourishes all who are connected to him. And the connecting point? That’ s faith. Through faith he nourishes you for your everyday life. He strengthens you with the peace of sins forgiven, the love of God the Father, and the promise of eternal life.
2) He is The Offspring of David…so say prayers to Him. David was a king. So was Jesus. Kings listen to requests. Jesus will listen to yours too. Whatever your requests may be, feel free to lay them at the feet of your king. He is always in charge. Always on the throne. Always accepting these requests – no matter when, no matter how much, no matter how great! Keep talking to your King – and you’ll stay ready for Jesus’ return.
3) He is the BRIGHT MORNING STAR…so gaze on his beauty. See the aurora borealis of salvation. Look at the bright sunlight of salvation. Gaze at the beauty of his bloodstained brow. Marvel at the joy of the cross. Take time each day…take time later this afternoon to appreciate just what Jesus had done for you. Don’t look away from Jesus and you’ll stay ready for his kingly return.
4) Come. Come. This is a message not only from Jesus, but also from the Spirit – the Holy Spirit himself, also true God – and the bride, that is the church, all the saints in heaven cheering down to you – say, “Come!” But come where? Come to Heaven, certainly! But heaven comes through the message of Jesus. Thus, again, the Bible – Jesus – the Holy Spirit—and the Christian church encourages you – come and learn at the feet of Jesus. Come to Bible study. Come to devotion. Come to church. Come to the radio. Come to WELS Daily devotions. Come to our website to check up on sermons. Come. Come anywhere you can hear the message of Jesus!
5) Tell others to Come! Literally it says, “Let the one who hears say, “Come!” Did you hear? Good. Then say “Come!” Tell your family. Tell your friends. Literally tell them to come to church with you next week. Do it! The message that Jesus is literally that fantastic!
In fact, now that I think about it, why wait? Why wait for Jesus to come? His gifts are so awesome – forgiveness, peace, love, and joy. Why wait for him to come?
Why not come to him...now?!?
Jesus says this, “Let the one who is thirsty come" – thirsty for forgiveness? Come. Thirsty for peace? Come. Thirsty for purpose? Come. Thirsty for love? Come. Thirsty for salvation? Come. Come…and take, "take the free gift of the water of life.”
So what are you waiting for? Jesus is coming soon, but why wait?
Why not come to Him now!?!