O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Come Lord Jesus
Come Lord Jesus
Based on Revelation 22:1-20
Preached on May 12, 2013
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Fellow baptized saints, you who have the right to the tree of life, happy Mother's Day. We thank God for our mothers, don't we? Those of them who are with us, and those of them who are with Him, though they will always be our mothers, even for all eternity. Thank you Lord for mothers.
We thank Him because He gave us mothers to love us. He gave us mothers to care for us. He gave us mothers to teach us. And taught us they have. They have taught us many things, but the most important thing our mothers have done, the number one thing God wants mothers to do for their children, is to teach them about Jesus. To bring them to Him in the waters of Holy Baptism. To sing and speak His words to them each day. To keep calling them back to Him and the new life He has prepared for us all. We thank God our mothers have done this. Thank you Lord for mothers.
Now, when it comes to calling us back, I remember when my mother used to call me back to work the garden in our backyard. I was probably doing something fruitless like watching television, and I'd hear my mom open the back door and call my name. "Come on. It's garden time." Ughhh, what a drag. All I wanted to do was waste away on the couch, but I knew that if I didn't go she'd open that back door and call my name again. I didn't want to go to the garden, but my mom kept calling me back, so that I begrudgingly joined her. But I tell you, without fail, every time I joined my mother in the garden, I had an absolute blast. Digging holes. Smelling flowers. Picking berries. This was nothing like sitting on the couch. The garden was alive, and when I was with my mother in the garden, I was living.
This morning marks the end of our Revelation sermon series. Our text is the last chapter of the entire Bible. And isn't it beautiful that here in the close of the Scriptures, we are left with the same picture that opened the Scriptures. The garden of Eden. The river of life flowing from God's throne, lined on either side with the tree of life. God is reminding us of where it all began. He is showing us where it will all end. He is calling us back to the garden.
"Come on. It's garden time." Listen to the way He opens that back door and keeps calling our name. "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 new life in this garden is free. Christ has bought it for you on the cross. Your admission is already paid. Come, the Spirit calls.
And let the one who hears say, "Come." The one who truly hears this call is moved to cry out "Come." A call to others who are thirsty, and yet a call to Christ. A prayer for His return. This is John's final cry, the very last words of the Bible. "Come, Lord Jesus!" We believe all that you have accomplished. We long to be in the garden that you have called us back to. Let thy kingdom come. As soon as possible. We beg you. Come back now!
But is that what you really want? Do you really want Christ to return right now, put an end to this world and take you back to the garden? I mean, you pray this in the Lord's Prayer every day, thy kingdom come, but is it what you want? Or do you really want to waste away on the couch watching television? Wouldn't you rather stick around here until the last possible moment, even if this world is infested with sin, death and the devil?
Admit it, you don't want the world to end. You shudder at the idea that Christ might come this very morning. Don't come now Lord, you catch yourself praying. But if the Spirit of God says, "Come," what is it in you that fearfully says "Don't come"? What is it in you that would rather stay in the filth of sin and death, than swim in the river of life?
The same thing that is in all of mankind, the old Adam. The human nature. That old sinful man who was cast out of the garden in the beginning that still lives in your flesh.
And so you are conflicted. You love what Christ has done for you, yet you can't seem to let go of the world. It is like there are two yous living inside of you. The new man God has made you in Christ who longs to go and be with God, and this old man who lives in your flesh and clings to the world. The new man is not afraid of Christ's return. He has nothing to fear. He is the one who hears the call. He is the one who desires to take the water of life. He belongs in the garden and looks forward to being there. But the old man - knows his time is up. He is terrified of Christ's return and he wants you to share his fear. He fills your ears with uncertainties and "What ifs." He pulls you into the temptations of the flesh, reminding you of all the physical things around you and how much he loves them. He cannot go back to the garden. He has been barred from the tree of life, but he doesn't want you to go. He wants you to stay here with him, wasting away on the couch watching television. There is a spiritual tug of war going on within you. And neither one of these two is going down without a fight.
But Christ has not left you alone in this fight, as though He expects you to overcome old Adam on your own. Christ knows you could never do this. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. You would always choose to waste away on the couch watching television. That is why He gives you preaching. Just like my dear mother, He keeps opening the back door and calling your name. Come on! It's garden time! That's what preaching is. It is like the loving mother calling her deadbeat teenager off the couch and into the garden of life. It is the beating down of the old Adam, and the raising up of the new man. The Law is preached to kill old Adam, and the Gospel is preached to raise the new man to life. For that teenager would never go to the garden on His own, but only because of the faithful call of his mother does he even begrudgingly go. As C.S. Lewis once said, "The Christian is dragged kicking and screaming into the kingdom of God."
And that is what is so absolutely comforting about these closing words of the Bible. They are the same message God has been proclaiming all along, ever since the fall in the first garden. Repent and believe this good news you hear right now. Let old Adam die and Come with me. Come, for it is free. It costs you nothing, though it cost me everything. A tree of life for you won on a tree of death for me. This life is a cross, it is about dying. But the garden that awaits you is glorious. It will be about life and only life - and it will never end.
With Christ and His Spirit calling words like these, we can truthfully join St. Paul when he said, "My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better." "The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come. Yes! Yes Lord! Come! Come. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Pastor Bill Rumsch
Rev. Cameron Schnarr