Summary: Based on Rev 22:12-end and John 17:20-26. The invitation at the end of Revelation is made to the Great Feast, and we as a church should set aside pride and in unity reach the lost with the Gospel of Christ.
Behold, I come quickly.
I was told a story long ago about a preacher preaching on the second lesson this morning from Revelation 22, and Christ’s words “Behold, I Come quickly.”
A new preacher, fresh out of seminary, was so nervous about delivering his first sermon that he’d gotten almost no sleep the night before. He was so nervous and tired, he barely made it up the steps to the pulpit. Fortunately he found his text and began preaching. But nervousness soon overtook him, and the outline flew right out of his mind.
Now, in seminary, he was taught that if a lapse of memory occurs, it is wise to repeat your last point. And so, he did. “Behold, I come quickly!” he announced to his congregation. But his mind was still blank. He tried one more time, “Behold, I come quickly” but still no results.
Finally, he stepped way back, made a lunge toward the pulpit, shouted out, “BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY!”, tripped and fell into the lap of a little old lady in the front row. Flustered and embarrassed, he picked himself up, apologized profusely, and started to explain what had happened.
“That’s alright, young man,” said the kindly old lady. “It was really my fault. You warned me three times that you were on your way down here. I should have just gotten out of your way.”
3 times, in the space of 14 Verses, Christ tells those who will be reading the close of this epistle, Behold, I Come quickly. We should begin by looking at the reason that Christ stresses his return to the readers of this epistle.
The church at the time of John was under fire because Christians refused to call Caesar "Lord." Many were being martyred as examples to everyone else. New and grotesque ways were invented to punish believers.
But some of the old ways were used too. Ways like crucifixion imprisonment and exile. That is where the Book of Revelation begins. On a hot barren prison island called Patmos where the apostle John was exiled on account of his faith in Christ.
The Book begins on a prison Island but it doesn't stay there for long. After brief but quite striking greetings to the churches in Asia Minor, Jesus takes John, in the Spirit, up to the throne of heaven. With a literal cast of thousands, John is shown images "what must soon take place."
In these images God's judgment is poured out upon all that is evil. Early in the book, John is shown a vision of the martyred saints of God calling from beneath that altar. "How long will you let this persecution go on?"
Even today, though we might not see it here in the US to a great extent, there are persecutions of the church all over the world.
How long will God let this keep happening?
So the book of Revelation primarily reassures us, and the early Christians, that this state of affairs will not go on forever.
There will be a Judgment Day and God will bring an end to the evil that pervades our world and injures all that is good and righteous.
God will protect his own.
They may suffer physically, their bodies may be mauled by wild beasts or burned, but they will be vindicated.
They will stand before God in heaven with white robes and branches of victory. Every evil power and principality will cease to exist. And all will be made new. God will create a new heaven and a new earth where all is full of His glory.
Beautiful Picture, but what does it mean to the one struggling now! Just as the book seems to be ending in Chapter 21 in that blessed future of the New Jerusalem, which we saw last week, it turns the Christian back to the here and now.
In verse 17 of Revelation 22, John records this:
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”
And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come;
let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
The response to hearing God’s Assurance is to turn to the world, which is lost in its sin, and to say with one voice, and in one Spirit, “Come!” Come, Come to Christ, Come and receive his free gift of salvation, the living waters without price.”
Now, keep this command to evangelize and invite the world to the Great Marriage feast of the Lamb in mind as we look to the Gospel lesson from this morning. In the Gospel, Christ prays saying:
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.