And look, I come soon. Blessed–the one who safe-guards the words of the prophecy of this book. And I, John–the one having heard and having seen these things; and when I heard and I saw, I fell to worship on my knees in front of the feet of the angel, the one showing me these things. And he says to me, "See to it, you don't! A slave with you, I am and of your brothers, the prophets, and of those who safe-guard the words of this book. Be on your knees to God!" And he says to me, "Stop sealing the words of the prophecy of this book, for the season is near. May the unrighteous one be unrighteous yet, and may the impure be impure yet, and may the righteous one be made righteous yet, and the holy one be holy yet. Look, I come soon, and My reward with Me, to deliver to each as is his work. I–the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Source and the Perfect-Completion. Blessed–the ones having washed their robes, in order that their authority be upon the tree of life, and by the gates they may enter into the city. .
The first time the incarnate Son of God came to this world, preparations were in order. John, not the author of Revelation, but the Lutheran-who-baptized, was sent by God to prepare Jesus' way. He did this by preaching God's Word of repentance and forgiveness, and by offering a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Before Jesus' public ministry began, folks were returned to the Lord once again, so that they would be made ready to receive the Christ's blessed words and actions.
Now awaiting the return of Jesus to this world for a second time, we hear that word again: "prepare". As we view that word, we can't help but think about how we prepare for other things. There is a lot of work to be done to prepare a big family meal at holiday time. There is a lot of studying to prepare for a final exam. There's a lot of number-crunching to prepare the end of the year budget. In all these examples of preparing, it sure seems like a whole lot of effort. "Prepare" sounds like a "you gotta".
But tonight we hear other words too: "Comfort, comfort." This duplication is by design, much like my mother would yell, "Johnny...JOHNNY!" to get my attention, this word is repeated so that we understand just how important it is to realize that all this preparation is actually a "comfort" for you. "But, Pastor, it will take a lot of hard work to prepare all the people of the world for Jesus, coming soon!" Indeed it does. In fact, it takes so much effort that you and I, and indeed all the people of the world put together could not possibly accomplish what it takes to get everyone ready for Jesus.
Really, we are a lot like John. Not the Lutheran-baptizer this time, but the Revelation-writer. He thought he ought to be "doing something" so what did he do? The absolute wrong thing. He tried to worship an angel instead of God. So God stopped him in his tracks. You and I are the very same way. We want to "do something" to get ourselves ready for Christ's imminent return, but our very efforts, tainted by sin as they are, will most likely just muck up the works and not help at all.
That is why the work of preparation is all for God to do. "Really?" Yes! "But don't I have to worship God on my knees?" Don't fret about that, for God's Law brings you to your knees quite well, just as the message of His Gospel love from Jesus at the cross raises you up and gives you worth! "But don't I gotta keep God's word?" The Holy Ghost has that one handled already as well, by the gift of faith in your heart, He safe-guards that word of God that it may dwell richly in you unto your life everlasting.
"But don't I have to do enough good works for Jesus to be pleased with me on Judgment Day? For He will render to each one according to his works!" Well, what has become of all your impurity and unrighteousness? It has been washed clean from you at your baptism, and that filthy floodwater from the font flowed all the way to Jesus on the +, where He became impure & unrighteous in your place at Calvary. Jesus already suffered your punishment, so there's nothing left in you to be condemned!
You are blessed with the gift of faith by which the word of God is safe-guarded in your heart. You are blessed to have robes washed clean by Jesus! For in the sweet swap of Calvary, the same Jesus Who became your sins on the tree trades to you His holiness, His purity, His righteousness as yours! You are blessed to be made righteous by Jesus, kept holy in His sight, so that when He returns, your judgment will be a comfort to you! For He is the Source of your being-prepared, and its Perfect-Completion! He Who began this good work in you will bring it to completion as He promised. Amen.
hymns from LSB:
#354 Arise, O Christian People lyrics tune (a little fast!)
#347 Comfort, Comfort, Ye my People