The Fifth Sunday of Easter (C)
“Do You See What I See”
May 19, 2019
Sermon Text: Revelation 21:1-5
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from our risen Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today… as with all days and certainly on Sundays… we bask in the glory of Easter morning and the greatest of news that our Lord Jesus has conquered sin, death and the devil once… for all!
But this, the greatest of news, is not the only wonderful piece of information which we find recorded in God’s Holy Word. Indeed, with the resurrection of our Savior, it really has been a case of more good news one right after another… on infinitum… which is exactly what will happen… the good news will never cease. It will continue forever.
And that, my friends, is in spite of some less than positive news that you and I may be told…. some less than positive news which you and I may have to deal with along the way… while we sojourn here on earth for but a little while longer.
Through it all, the good news recorded in the Bible keeps us going. It gives us peace, comfort and hope for each day… to face each new day… to make it through each and every day. For as we learn in Scripture, there is more and more good news all the way to the very last chapters of the very last book of the Bible… that which takes us to the very last day and beyond… so far beyond.
On Christmas Eve, the angels and all of the heavenly host asked us, “Do you see what we see? Your Savior is born!
On Easter morning, the disciples of our Lord asked us, “Do you see what we see? It is Jesus. He is alive… glorified… and lives forevermore.”
Now, St. John, in the Book of Revelation, is saying to us “Do you see what I see?” For John was the first to gaze upon… to take in the glorious place where he, we and all the faithful will reside forever and ever.
It is the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven… coming from God… where a great wedding banquet will take place. Indeed, Christ is the Bridegroom and we the Church…. the faithful members of the Holy Christian Church… are the bride.
Let no one tell you differently. The festivities are about to begin. They will soon take place. Christ soon comes to take us to Himself and the Holy City shall soon descend out of heaven where we will live with Him… with Jesus… in everlasting peace, joy, happiness, contentment and glory.
When that happens, so will be fulfilled the words which John heard… the loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
You see, my friends, what makes heaven – heaven…. what makes glory – glory… what makes paradise – paradise… is God and His very presence…. and in the world to come God, our God, will once again live with mankind, tabernacle with us… reside with all the faithful… as He once did before the fall into sin… and as Jesus did when He came to earth to save us.
Yes, most certainly and wonderfully, God is with us now… but then, to the fullest. God is with us in and through His Spirit working in and through His Holy Word and the Blessed Sacraments.
But that indwelling will be complete in the world to come when the last vestiges of sin have been removed… when the prince of this world, namely Satan and all who follow him… are cast into Hell and it is shut, locked and sealed forever.
Our dwelling with God cannot be complete until this old sinful, polluted world and all who live by the world… are of the world… are removed. And that is exactly what will soon happen. Look at the order of events in our epistle lesson. Take note that the new heaven and the new earth will not come until the old heaven and the old earth have “passed away.”
Later in our text it says, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’”
God… our God… is making EVERYTHING new. Thankfully, it has already begun… the “new-ing and renewing.” We certainly have been made new through the waters of Holy Baptism. Our minds continue to be renewed through the knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ and of His will.
And yet, we shall be “newer” still when these our mortal bodies, these lowly and imperfect bodies… in the twinkling of an eye… at the last trumpet… are raised from the dead. When the perishable puts on the imperishable… the mortal with immortality.
When this corruptible flesh has become incorruptible…. and in our new and glorified bodies, perfect bodies, we go to be with the Lord… in the Holy City… this new Jerusalem forever.
My friends, just a few weeks ago our Lord showed us the marks on His hands and feet and the place where the spear pierced His side. Today, our loving God shows us our eternal home won for us by Him on the cross at Calvary.
St. John asks us, “Do you see what I see… what shall soon descend out of heaven?” Do we see it? Are our eyes focused on what awaits us… what is coming… what is literally right around the corner? Or have we lost sight of how all of this ends… how this world will soon come to an end?
In the midst of you and me dealing with the everyday, have we forgotten the big picture here… that which lies beyond days… beyond time?
Are we confused? Have we gotten mixed up where our emphasis is more on the oh-so-temporary and fleeting, rather than on the permanent, the everlasting and eternal things of God?
Satan and this world would love for us to be bewildered, beside ourselves… all stressed out… all wrapped up in the here and now… rather than on the “forever and a day.”
Consider this past week. How much time did you spend thinking about yourself and worldly things? How much time did you spend thinking about God and heavenly things? How much time did you spend thinking about others around you… family and friends… neighbors, your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ here at St. Paul’s and around the world?
It is all a matter of perspective… of what we are looking at. And if all we see is the “I” … “Me” and “ My” … rather than that which God wants us to see… what He would have us consider… we are in trouble.
But if we seek God’s perspective… adopt… embrace and make it our own by His might and power.. what wonderful things await us… what wonderful things God will reveal to us.
Look again at what He shows us this day… God does not want us to fret about the future… know nothing of the future… so He even shows us our heavenly home… our beautiful, everlasting dwelling place.
St. John wants to know, “Do we see what he sees?” With worldly eyes… not a chance…. but with spiritual eyes… yes, we can see… do see… if only in part… if only dimly right now.
For you see, my friends (no pun intended), there is something blocking, preventing, inhibiting our clear and perfect vision of our heavenly home. It is tears. The tears which this world causes. Tears which our bound to come as we fight the good fight of faith… tears as we suffer for our beliefs and hold on to our precious ways… God’s ways.
Oh, we can see the Holy City , but it is somewhat blurred. Take heart, for this is a temporary malady. Listen to the Divine Voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. God Himself will wipe every tear from the eyes of the faithful Christian man, woman, father, mother, son, daughter who labored in this world… who shared God’s love… who kept the faith and carried out whatever vocation God had given to them.
Do you see what I see? Nothing but peace and joy and happiness awaiting us in our heavenly home. Indeed, dear Father, may this all take place soon, for we long to be out of this veil of tears and with You in paradise, forever and ever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Do You See What I See” 3/19/19 The Rev. Mark H Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL.