Summary: A communion sermon focusing on the hope of the second coming.
Big Idea: If we cannot join our beginning to our end, we will live scattered and incoherent lives.
Last week we looked at Jesus’ big invitation for us to come to Him (Revelation 22:17). This week we will look at our big invitation for Jesus to come to us.
In Revelation 22:20 we read: “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
* MARANATHA! IS OURWAY OF LIFE
Maranatha!, an Aramaic word that means “Come, O Lord!” was first used by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:22. It was soon found on the lips of Christians across the empire.
• Maranatha! was more than wishful thinking.
• Maranatha! was more than escapism.
• Maranatha! was even more than a prayer.
• Maranatha! was a way of life. It was the framework within which the church lived out its faith.
The early church faced a lot persecution, and life for a Christian under Roman rule was not easy. The Romans required everyone to declare that Caesar was god. The early Christians knew that there is only one God and one Lord—Jesus Christ—and in all good conscience they could not call Caesar “Lord,” so the Romans looked upon them as traitors, persecuted them, and put them to death.
The expectation was that eventually these Christians would either be wiped out, abandon the faith, or they would compromise and syncretize. But living under those adverse conditions actually strengthened the church, emboldened their witness, and enriched their morale. And one of the key elements that helped them through these times was … “Maranatha!” … the firm abiding conviction that Jesus was coming again.
* MARANATHA! IS OUR ENCOURAGEMENT
Maranatha! became such an important concept in the church’s faith that it soon became their greeting and their departure. It replaced the Jewish greeting “shalom” which means “peace.” When believers gathered or parted, they didn’t say “hello” or “goodbye” but, rather “Maranatha!” That upward look revolutionized the church. I think it could do the same for us today.
Have you given much thought about how living with the end in mind might change your life and lifestyle? It could be radical! You see, if we cannot join our beginning to our end, we will live scattered and incoherent lives.
And that is the whole reason John wrote this letter! To encourage and equip His church to be faithful and faith-full until the end.
Hear me -- John never asked his hearers and readers to contemplate the future in order to calculate the timetable of its arrival. He did not offer his prophecy to entice them to predict when God was going to act. John’s future-oriented visions were intended to compel the readers and hearers to turn to God. He does not offer a timeline but, rather, a sense of urgency.
Urgency must not be misunderstood as hurry. It is something more like a quiet attentiveness, acutely alert to Christ’s coming among us. This urgency is liberating, for it compels us to stay awake – to be deeply and earnestly aware of who we are and what we are doing, keeping us free from trivia.
* MARANATHA! IS OUR MOTIVATION
Have you noticed that people who are preoccupied with the future seem to be uninterested in preparing for the future? Preparing for the future (living in light of Jesus’ return) is something that people do by feeding the poor, working for justice, loving their neighbors, and developing a virtuous and compassionate life in the name of Jesus.
It is more comfortable to try and predict the future than to allow it to change your lifestyle. Prediction can become a substitute for action. I have even heard people blaspheme God by saying things like “Jesus is coming back anyway, so why should I try and improve my world by helping the working poor or the fatherless, or the hungry?”
When we pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” we are saying “Maranatha!” We are saying “Come, O Lord!” … And we are also saying “I will let your will for the earth be done in me and through me until you come to finish the task.”
* MARANATHA! IS OUR HOPE.
I trust you can see how Maranatha! gives us hope just like it did the first century Christians. We know that redemption is not complete until Jesus comes. By “looking up” with anticipation we see renewed and filled joyful anticipation.
• To those who are discouraged today, Maranatha!
• To those who are worried today, Maranatha!
• To those who are filled with anxiety over the problems you are facing, Maranatha!
Our Lord is coming!
* MARANATHA! IS OUR PROCLAMATION
The Lord’s Supper
One can easily imagine John’s churches, after just listening to a reading of his work, proclaiming, praying, and rejoicing in the promise of Jesus and then moving directly into the meal – the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is itself a faith statement. It is a proclamation of Jesus’ salvation message.