Friday of 4th Sunday in Advent – Revelation 22:9-21

| December 22, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Revelation 22:9-21

In the book of Revelation, then, we experience God’s time, we experience the Advent or Coming of Jesus Christ for all time.  It’s no wonder that the compilers of the lectionary of the Prayer Book put the last part of Revelation during the season of Advent.  The wisdom of this move is never clearer than in Revelation 22 which ends with a the cry of the Spirit and the Bride shouting a loud “Come, Lord Jesus!”

The truth is that Jesus Christ has come, is coming, and will come, for He is the One Who Was, Who Is, and Who Is to Come.  Throughout our lives and in Advent especially, we are to meditate on all three dimensions of time and how Christ comes in each.  Only then will we have a more perfect sense of Christ’s coming, of His Kingdom, His Power, and His Glory.

Definitively, Jesus Christ has come in His Incarnation, public ministry, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and at Pentecost.  Progressively, He comes to His people to dwell with them each and every day that they seek Him and abide in Him.  Finally, He shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead and to take us into the highest heaven, thus completing all, including our glorification.  In heaven, we will experience time a little differently because Jesus Christ will cease His coming because He will always be with us in a way that He is not on earth.

In Revelation 22, time has come full circle for humanity, only with a greater kingdom, power, and glory than Adam could ever dream of.  We read yesterday of the restoration and exaltation of Eden as what Adam had lost is gained for us through the Second Adam.  We read of theRiverofLifeand Tree of Life and the New Sun and the like.

But there is one more similarity between Genesis 2 and Revelation 22, and that is the matter of obedience.  When God created Adam to have a relationship with Him and lovingly placed him in the Garden, God required something in His covenantal relationship with Him: obedience.  From the beginning, man’s relationship to God has been an ethical one that is based on who God is, as the Creator and Almighty Lord, and who we are, creatures created in His image to worship Him and do His will on earth.

In the beginning, God gave Adam 2 commandments: to be fruitful and multiply and take dominion over the earth, and not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  As we are all too painfully aware, man created for obedience to God and fellowship with Him and to rule with Him descended into obedience, was cut off, and created a kingdom without God, which is a form of Hell.

Wherever God is present, whenever He comes to men, He demands and deserves their complete obedience.  Obedience, which is the proof of our humility (as opposed to pride), our faithfulness (and not just an empty intellectual faith), and our love.  We sometimes forget that the Lamb is the Holy, Unblemished Lamb of God and can only abide with the righteous, those united to Him by a true and living faith.

Therefore, Jesus says that He is coming quickly, and when He comes He will bring His reward with Him, to give to everyone according to his work (verse 12).  “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (verse 14).  When seen in terms of the past, present, and future coming of Jesus Christ, these rewards of blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience, make a fascinating study.

When Christ came the first time, He confronted a humanity that was utterly fallen and as worthy of destruction as Noah’s generation.  But rather than simply condemn us all, as we deserved, and still having to be both holy and just but also merciful and loving, He rewarded our disobedience by taking upon Himself the curse our sins deserved.  The One who was without sin and who is the Judge of both heaven and earth became sin for us and took upon Himself the judgment we deserved.

When Christ comes to us in the present, it’s sometimes confusing.  We know that His judgment on those who love and obey Him is that they are made righteous through Him.  We know that even in our suffering, He is with us, blessing us by uniting us to Him.  But the confusing part is that in earthly terms, we don’t always see the blessings we look for.  With David, we notice that the wicked seem to prosper in this life and that there are a lot of Lazaruses at the gates of rich men.  We see St. Paul who lived a life, by human measures of misery and suffering and frustration, but in that sameSt. Paulwe see the fruit of joy and love and a blessing far beyond physical comfort.

In His Second Coming, things shall become crystal clear and every form of blessing and cursing will match up perfectly with our status before the Lord.

Therefore, in this life, since obedience is our command, and obedience should be our joy, and only the obedient will see Christ come and visit them, we should live as if Jesus Christ has already come to us, for in fact He has.

I therefore have faith that Jesus Christ has come in the past to make things right again and bless those who put their trust in Him and not themselves.  Part of this faith, of course, is my faithful obedience, the proof that I believe in the Christ who has come.  In the present, as Christ comes to me, I have love, and I offer up myself as a living, loving, sacrifice to Christ, intending to obey all that He commands.  And I have hope that He will come again to consummate all things and to be with us forever.

Being stuck in the confusing present, I cry out with the Spirit and the Bride: “Come!”  Having faith in the Christ who has come, I cry out “Come to me today, as you have faithfully come to your people in the past.”  In this present life, I am hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; and struck down, but not destroyed.  But if I do not cry out to Jesus daily, I will be crushed, despairing, forsaken, and destroyed, and this is often how I feel.  And knowing that no matter how comforting and blessing and joyful the presence of Jesus in this life is, I cry out “Come!  Come and fulfill all things, for I am ready.”

In the end, what I want is what every man wants: his truest companion, who is someone even more wonderful than woman.  Our True Companion in Heaven, one more perfect and rewarding than any human relationship, even the most blessed marriage, is Jesus Christ Himself.  I hope and even pant for His Second Coming, but while He chooses to tarry, I will ask Him to come today, each and every moment, for that is what I need today, each and every moment.

In the seeking of God, I therefore become an imitator of the Second Adam and not the First.  In seeking God and asking Him to come again, the greatest miracle in the world is performed again: God comes down to be with man, even this crushed and perplexed man.  And though my outer man is manifestly perishing each and every year, when Jesus comes to me again, my inner man is renewed.

Therefore, as the angel commanded, I will worship God, and I will worship today simply by asking Jesus Christ to Come!

Here’s a poem I wrote years ago about my desire for God to come.

 

come

O

God

come.

I am weary

too weary

to draw words

from the depths of my empty throat

too weak to call to   you

with a physical power

come.

though I am mute and dying

come.

I am weak

when I am my strongest

I am weakest now

come.

for I know

it is when I am my weakest

that

YOU ARE

present

as a small still voice

filling my being with unspoken words

when the universe

in its           silence

cannot speak to me

come.

I listen

not for words, my ears are useless

and hearing cannot detect you

yet I lie

if I say

I cannot sense                                                                                       your presence.

You alone define

yourself

to me

(how else can I                                                                                     know you?)

through a sense not human

it must be divine,

even though I am too fragile

too sinful

to exist with                                                                                          your whole being

come.

Sometimes I cry

dead dry tears

for unseen love, power and beauty

beyond my sense and comprehension:

with unutterable groans of desire to be with you

I cry

come.

My being screams dryly

with a thirst much greater than the universe’s deserts

come.

Sometimes I wish I could die

my soul sighs at                         beauty

the reflection of you

in the universe

witnessed unmistakably by man

the most beautiful of all your creations.

I will die

I will lie down at                                   your side forever

unrestricted, ecstatic joy will be mine

I will know                                           you

and an understanding of infinity

and love

will reside with me

as I reside with and am known by you.

OmnipotentInfinityLove

multiplied by Itself for eternity

You

God

come

to me.

Resolution:  I resolve to ask Jesus to come to me as many times today as I can.  When I am in need, I will ask Him to come, and when I know that He has come I will be joyful and give thanks.

Prayer:  Come, Lord Jesus!

Point for Meditation:  Make a list of the ways that Jesus Christ comes to you today.  Add to this list as other ways occur to you.  Keep this list somewhere safe and practice seeing Jesus Christ in all of the ways He comes to you, even in this life. 

© 2011 Fr. Charles Erlandson

 

Hans Memling Last Judgment Triptych – wikipedia entry on Last Judgment.jpg

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Category: Give Us This Day

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