Sunday, April 28, 2013
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth went away, and the sea is no longer. And the city, the holy one, New Jerusalem I saw coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride made beautiful to her husband. And I heard a great sound out of the throne saying, "Look, the tabernacle of God with mankind and He tabernacles with them, and they, His people they will be, and God Himself will be with them–their God, and He will wipe away every tear out of their eyes, and death will not be any longer, nor grieving, nor weeping, nor wickedness will there be any longer; the first things have gone away. And He said, the One sitting upon the throne, "Look, new I am making everything," and He says, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." And He said to me, "These things are done. I–the Alpha and the Omega, the Source and the Ending. I Myself will give to the thirsty one out of the spring of the water of life, a gift. The conqueror will inherit these things and I will be to him a God and he will be to Me a son.
When I watch a commercial, the product is often new and improved. Now that's great for getting folks to buy it, but what about me who already bought the old, lousy version last month? There is a lot of joy in our second lesson today, about a new heaven and earth, joined together as one by the heavenly Jerusalem, where God and man will be together like they were way back in that first paradise. When God makes all things new, it will certainly be great. But we are currently left here in this old earth, apart from heaven.
Such is life for us as we await the last day when Jesus will return to make all things new. In the meantime, Jesus is not able to be seen by us. He's gone as He told His disciples "for a little while". But it surely doesn't seem like a little while at all. It's been almost 2000 years, and still Jesus hasn't returned! It's almost enough to cause us to give up hope that He'll ever come back to make it all new.
But it really is just a "little while" in the big scheme of things. For when Jesus gave up His life on the cross He did so to give you eternal life. No amount of wait time compares with life everlasting, does it? Your heavenly home is already secured for you by the water of life--your birthday unto life eternal. Your Baptism day became the first day of your life forever with Jesus. Your reign with Jesus in heaven began that day, and it lasts for time immemorial. So waiting a bit until we see Jesus is not hard.
Separation anxiety seems to set in for you at times, knowing that there is a split between heaven and earth for a time yet. While the saints above are basking in the joys of paradise with their Savior, you here below may grow a bit jealous of what they now enjoy. In the interim, you live in a very sinful world, where temptations abound, far away from heaven, where sin and death seem to reign supreme.
But Belinda Carlisle may have been correct when she sang prophetically, "Heaven is a place on earth." For these brief moments this morning, God does indeed bring His heavenly presence to be among us here. Jesus who tabernacled among men on the earth when He first came, will tabernacle with mankind again. And He tabernacles within you when He feeds you with His ever-living body come down from the right hand of God's throne, and gives you His life-blood to drink for your forgiveness.
Yet it's difficult waiting for things to be finished. Like the birthday present "with some assembly required" seems to take some of the joy out of the gift, you may become frustrated knowing that you live in a yet-to-be-completed work which fixes all things. You dwell now within the problem of this sin-sick world. It's so contagious that you've caught this deadly disease of sin yourself, in need of a cure.
But don't be anxious about this temporary time of sorrow, for the remedy is yours in Christ Jesus. "These things are done" Jesus says to John in Revelation. "It is finished!" Jesus says to you from the cross. All that was needed to save you from your sins, Jesus has already accomplished for you, from His perfect life of obedience which earned everlasting life for you, to His innocent suffering and death which destroyed your death, to His raising Himself to life to bring the life of immortality to light for you!
So don't remain sorrowful simply because you live in the not-yet of this world separated from heaven. Rejoice that the same God Who is at work for you know will also bring all things to completion on the last day. Rejoice in those ways that God is already with you, being your God so that you can be His son. Be reminded daily that you are a baptized child of God, now and forevermore. Receive Jesus into your ears in the proclamation of His gospel love for you. Have your thirst quenched by much better than a 100oz big gulp–by the cup of salvation, the new testament in Jesus' blood for your forgiveness!
Hymns for today from LSB: