Sermon: “These Words are Trustworthy and True”
Lectionary Series C; Fifth Sunday of Easter
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Gospel Reading: Revelation 21:1-7
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hear again these words from our text: And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
My goal for this sermon today is that you as hearers would trust in the Word of God so that you may behold the beauty of the new heavens and the new earth that Christ has won for you for all eternity. (Pause)
Trust, can be a difficult thing. We live in a world that lacks trust.
I recall a time on a servant event where I was asked to come forward and participate in a trust fall. If you haven’t done a trust fall, it is where one person stands behind another person, then tells the person in front of them to fall back trusting that the person in back is going to catch them.
Well, during this trust fall, there was an added dimension. I was blindfolded. After being blindfolded, I noticed that the voice of the person who was supposed to catch me, was no longer near me. I could hear their voice in a different part of the room. So, when it came time for them to tell me to fall back, I responded, “No way!” While everyone was laughing, I kept insisting that I was not going to fall back. Well, little did I know that the person who was supposed to catch me had had someone else stand up behind me to catch me. It was just that I couldn’t see that with the blindfold on. No way was I going to trust enough to fall back.
We live in a world of broken trust. Promises have been made and shattered far too many times, sometimes even by those closest to us.
Trust can also be misplaced. We can place a great deal of trust in family, friends, spouses, and even ourselves. But in doing so, we are so often let down.
It’s no wonder that we are taught to fear, love, and ‘trust’ in God above all things. He alone is the only One who is truly trustworthy.
Then again, how often do we struggle to trust in God? How often in the difficulties of this life have we thought that God has somehow failed us? When we didn’t get the good grade on the test, when the diagnosis was less than favorable, when the relationship fell to pieces, when the loved one of ours dies. In so many instances, we can fall prey to the temptation to think that God is not trustworthy.
In my morning devotions as of late, I have been reading through the book of Joshua. Towards the end of the book, God’s people have entered into the Promised Land. Now it was time to divvy up the land among the tribes of Israel. What a joyous time this must have been as they had been set free from Egypt, their forty year wilderness wanderings were now over, and now they could enjoy the land God had promised to their forefathers long ago.
It’s the end of that Scripture passage that I wanted to share with you. Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. (Listen carefully to these next words.) Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass (Joshua 21:43-45).
Not one word of the Lord had failed. All came to pass. His Words are Trustworthy and True. God’s promises come to fruition. Every one of them.
What is a constant struggle for us though, is that God does not promise good grades, favorable diagnoses, perfect relationships, or that we won’t have loved ones die. On the contrary, He tells us in His Word: In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.
To our limited human minds, it often does not make sense to us that in this world we will have trouble. As Christians, there are times where we are falsely led to believe that our life as believers should be better than others. We are tempted to think that as believers we should be rewarded with health, wealth, and even be free from trouble. But that is just not the case.
Trouble in this world is a guarantee. We are sinners living a sinful world. We can expect this world to be in constant decay. It was true ever since the fall in the garden. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they guaranteed for themselves and for every generation after them, that there would be the presence of sin, its effects, and death itself. It’s what we call original sin, and we have been reeling from the impact of that first sin ever since.
That’s why it is so comforting that our text for today invites us to redirect our attention away from the sinfulness of this world to what is yet to come.
Listen again: Then I saw a new heaven and new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:1-4).
Did you hear that? This earth is going to pass away. We will dwell with God. There will be no more tears or death or mourning or crying or pain any more. All that will pass away. The new heaven and the new earth are so grand that John doesn’t even tell us much of what ‘is’ there. Our words simply fall short. Instead, he tells us what is ‘not’ there. All the miserable realities of this world (tears, pain, death), all of it will be gone, and we who are the bride of Christ will dwell with God forever.
John gives us a glimpse into the future…a glimpse beyond the Last Day…a glimpse beyond the resurrection of the dead and into the life everlasting. It was a view into the future after Christ returns and claims us as His own. It’s an opportunity to see that everything God said He was going to do, He did. As it said in the book of Joshua, Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
What wonderful encouragement for us as we so often get down and discouraged as we wait for these words of John’s revelation to come to fruition. What comfort to know that God has not forgotten us and will not abandon us. He won’t abandon us when the end comes, and He doesn’t now either.
Consider those Israelites again, as they wandered in the wilderness. Consider how they rebelled and grumbled. (Ever rebelled or grumble in life?) Each time they did so, when they repented, God was there to forgive, restore, and supply. He gave them manna from heaven, water from a rock, even their sandals didn’t wear out through those forty years of wandering. He gave them all that was needed.
So it was for them, so it is for us. We don’t know the length of our days. We don’t know how long our wait will be for the words of this text to come to fulfillment. But what we do know is that our God who is faithful will provide all that is needed so that we may endure unto the Last Day when we will behold what John beheld with our own eyes.
Consider the verse from last week’s service, which also happens to be our theme verse at our school next year: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6).
Goodness and mercy. God’s gifts are not just one and done. His gifts are constant. In His Word and Sacrament Christ Himself comes to us to strengthen and nourish us to endure unto eternal life. And every time we receive the Sacrament, we proclaim Christ’s death until He comes again. We proclaim that everything He said He was going to do, He did. God is faithful.
Just listen: And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son (Revelation 21:5-7).
It is a done! His Words are Trustworthy and True. Signed, sealed, delivered. Not with gold or silver, but with the holy and precious blood and the innocent suffering and death of Jesus. Forgiveness is yours. Life and salvation is yours. Your Savior has died your death on the cross, and proclaimed that “It is done!” Done for are your sins. Done for is your death. And done for is the devil himself. It is done!
This is the beauty you are given to behold here in the season of Easter. Because nothing speaks of God’s faithfulness more than the cross and the empty tomb. He is risen, just as He said. So, living in that resurrection reality, fix your eyes on Christ in ‘His Word’ to set your sights on the future resurrection glory He has won for you.
God’s Word is the lamp to your feet and the light to your path. It is your two-edged sword that fights off the evil foe. It is your bread of life that will strengthen and sustain you for the journey ahead. It is the truth that will set you free. It is your Savior Himself who defeated death and the grave so the new heavens and new earth could be yours for all eternity. So trust Him, He is making all things new, all for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.