Summary: Here we see a confident proclamation of God’s Sovereignty and of Christ’s worthiness and of God’s plan in action.
Sermon by Adam Cetrangolo
Some of you here may know that up until the end of 2008, Heather and I were living on the Gold Coast, where we had been for four years. I was working as a full-time Lay Pastoral Worker in the Catholic Church and Heather was in her second last year of formation for ordained ministry. And I was thriving in my work but wrestling with the possibility that God might be calling me to ordained ministry too.
It came to pass, over the space of about twelve months, that Heather and I both discerned—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that God was calling us back to my home parish in Melbourne … that somehow God’s purpose was wrapped up in us coming back … so after many painful good-byes and much planning, we made the transition and moved back to Melbourne to take up this new role. But when we got to Melbourne:
We discovered that the parish did not have a full-time wage for me;
We discovered that the Anglican Church wanted Heather to jump through additional hoops that she had not originally thought she’d had to;
For Heather adjusting to a new Theological College and Parish Placement was tough;
The house that the Church had provided for us was in need of an Extreme Makeover!
After three months of arriving at my parish – the Parish Priest – who I had a great working relationship with retired
And as the months unfolded – there was so much additional pressure on both of us respectively – that it was seriously impacting on us spending any quality time with each other …
And we found ourselves asking the question: What is God up to?
The call to return to Melbourne and the Catholic Parish in Rosanna had been unmistakable and we felt that we had responded faithfully despite financial, social and emotional pressure …
What is God up to? Is there really a plan?
Well … I have entitled my sermon today: “God’s in Charge … So get with the program!”
And I’m going to tell you the rest of this story a little later …
I want to suggest that this passage can be divided into three parts:
God has a Program … what is going on is not simply a set of random events;
Only ONE is worthy to enact the program;
God’s program is GREATER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE … so we need to get with it!
1. GOD HAS A PROGRAM
So the context of today’s passage is the continuation of where we were last week …
Where we were last week … if you have your Bible open, you will see that John, in the Spirit, sees a vision of the Heavenly Throne Room, Chris preached about this last Sunday. And with great, magnificent and terrifying imagery, John describes how unapproachable and indescribable the throne room of God is and how all the Elders and living creatures fall before the one on the throne saying “You Are Worthy.”
NOBODY – not even the elders or the living creatures are worthy to approach the throne.
Today’s passage begins with John seeing something … v1 What does he see?
He sees a scroll in the right hand of the one sitting on the throne.
A scroll with 7 seals – remember 7 represents completion.
In the ancient world sealing a scroll with 7 seals meant that it was of particular importance (like a Last Will and Testament) and that the contents of the scroll would not come into effect until the seals were broken.
The Throne Room Scene of Chapter 4 has already affirmed that GOD IS IN CHARGE and hence worthy of true worship.
The sealed scroll demonstrates that GOD HAS A PLAN
But ‘Houston, we have a problem’ … v 3 … NO ONE in all of creation is worthy to open the scroll.
And this is why at verse 4, John weeps bitterly.
For he was promised back in chapters 1 and 4 that he will be shown what will take place
after this time … GOD’S PLAN … how can he be shown if the PLAN is locked in this scroll with unbreakable-seals? The PLAN of God will never take effect and the People of God that John is writing to, will be destined to perish because of their submission to all the evil and sinfulness that surrounds them.
JOHN DESPAIRS AND JOHN WEEPS!
2. ONLY ONE IS WORTHY
But then … John is told (v. 5) “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and the seven seals!”
Now remembering that Revelation is a type of literature that involves story and moving imagery. Our modern equivalent might be a FILM: