Second Sunday After Easter

Theme
IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?
Verses
Revelation 5, 11-14
Hymns
153, 549, 227, 341

                                                                      Revelation 5:11-14

              Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:  “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

            You’re at one of those estate sales, and you see a small tin with some old coins on it.  They want $25 for it, and they won’t dicker.  Would you pay that much for a bunch of old coins?  Is it really worth the cost?  Maybe not for most of us!  But if you are a coin dealer, you might think there could be some very valuable coins in there.  And you know old coins!  So, $25?  Sure!  It’s definitely worth it!   

            Or would you sit outside on some hard metal bleachers, in bitterly cold weather to watch a poorly played softball game?  Ask the grandparents of that girl playing left field.  They will say, “Yes!  Most definitely!  To watch our grand-daughter play and support her!  Yes, most definitely.  It’s worth it!” 

            We don’t invest our time, or money, or make some sacrifices of our comfort, for everything.  Before we make a commitment of our time and money, we need to ask, IS IT REALLY WORTH IT? 

            Jesus asks His disciples to believe in Him, and to follow Him regardless of the cost.  He wants us to give our money and our time to worship Him and do His ministry.  He asks us to live like a Christian.  Instead of treating people the way they deserve, and giving them a taste of their own medicine, Jesus asks us to treat other people the way He has treated us.  Jesus asks us to commit ourselves to Him, and be ready and willing to sacrifice anything and everything we have, including our very lives, just to follow and serve Him.

            And sometimes, we have to stop and ask ourselves, IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?  Do I really want to pay that much?  Am I really ready to sacrifice EVERYTHING I have for Jesus?  This morning we look at a vision the apostle John had.  Hold on to your hats, because it’s going to sound strange!  And yet with the help of this vision, about Jesus, we can answer our question, IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?

                                                                                            I

            The words before us are in the middle of a vision of John that starts in chapter 4, and will go into the beginning of chapter 8.  John looks into Heaven and sees a glorious and spectacular throne.  And on that throne sits the all-powerful God “who was, and is, and is to come.”  The eternal “I am” God that spoke to Moses.  The God who never changes!  The God who is faithful to His promises.  The God of all power!

            And around this throne were “four living creatures,” covered with eyes, and having six wings.  Like the Seraphim that Isaiah saw flying around in Heaven.  Then sitting around them were Twenty-Four Elders, sitting on Twenty-four thrones, dressed in white and having crowns of gold on their head.  And beyond the elders were “many angels numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.” 

            And the four living beings, the Twenty-Four elders, the over one hundred million angels were singing constant praises to God.  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”  And again, “You are worthy, Our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” 

            And you quickly realize that Jesus IS REALLY WORTH IT!  He is worth sacrificing anything and everything I might have, just to be with Him and to believe in Him.   Not only has He created this whole world, He also controls the whole world!  He has power to do anything!  Look at how He took care of His Old Testament people.  Miracle upon miracle!  Our God has the power to protect us, and to do what ever we need, and whatever we want.  Yes, the God who sits on that throne, the God who was, and who is, and who is to come, the God of all power and majesty is definitely worth it! 

                                                                                        II

            But John’s vision continues.  There seems to be a problem in heaven.  God is holding a scroll with writing on both sides of it, sealed with seven seals.  But there doesn’t seem to be anyone that can open these seals, and John weeps because no one is found who can open the seals.  And then one of the elders tells John “Don’t cry!  Someone is coming who can open the seals.”  And then John sees the one coming to open the seals.  It’s not a strong powerful beast!  It’s not a wise and learned man!  It’s “a lamb, looking as if it has been slain!”  A lamb, bloody, weak, hardly able to stand.  And this lamb takes the scroll from God, and begins to open the seals one by one, to reveal what is going to happen on the earth.

            And with each seal that is opened John sees the future of our world.  Wars all over the earth!  Famine and death by plague!  Saints persecuted and killed.  He sees the sun darkened.  But He also sees a white horse with a conqueror who will destroy all enemies, and be crowned as Lord of All! 

            Sound familiar?  Isn’t that exactly what Jesus told His disciples would happen before He came.  Wars and rumors of wars!  Famines, pestilence, disease!  Persecution of Christians.  False prophets and false Christs. The sun stopped shining.  The Lord comes back to judge!  That is what is being revealed by the opening of these seals.  And these seals can only be opened by “the lamb who was slain.” 

            And as this Lamb who was slain takes that scroll John says, ‘then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.  They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  In a loud voice they were saying, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” 

            So, why is this lamb worthy of such honor and praise?  Because He is “The lamb who was slain!”  The almighty God leaves His throne on High, lays aside His power and might, conceals His eternal glory and lives like a human being, and is crucified on a cross.  And the reason for this?  To fulfill the picture of every lamb ever sacrificed on a Jewish altar to take away sins.  Jesus is the “Lamb of God” who would take away the sins of the world.  Jesus is the Lamb that was slain!  He is also the Lamb who came back to life again!   

            Jesus has given you and me peace with God!  He was willing to humble Himself to the point of death and hell, just to bring you into God’s family.  Jesus has opened up eternity for you, and gives you a future home in heaven for the rest of eternity.  What a treasure He has given to us.  Yes, He is worth whatever it takes to follow and believe in Him.

            And because of his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus now has the authority to open those seals and to show us our future.  The future is always dark!  We never know exactly what’s going to happen to us.  We never know where life will take us.  We never know how many tomorrows are in store for us.  But we do know that Jesus is already in our future, and He is there to lead and guide us.  We will never be overwhelmed, because Jesus is in control!  We will never be lost, because Jesus is guiding us.  We will never have to be afraid, because whatever happens, wherever our path way leads, Jesus takes us by the hand, leads us down the path and tells us, “Don’t worry!  I’ve got it covered!”

            As you see the world that Jesus predicts as He opens those seals, and as you look around at our world today and how wicked it has become it can be scary.  There seems to be nothing but darkness, and misery, pain, and heartache!  But Jesus would say, “You’re wrong!” 

            This isn’t Satan’s time!  This isn’t the time of wicked and despicable people!  This isn’t the time for famines and earthquakes and pestilences, and wars and persecution of Christians!  Oh, sure these things will happen!  But it’s not their time!  It’s Jesus’ time!  At least for us who have been brought into His kingdom.  It’s Jesus’ time as He calls us to bring others into His kingdom, by preaching His Word.  By the words we speak!  By the acts of love we perform!  By sharing the light that we have with those still living in darkness.   This is Jesus’ time, and we never have to be afraid.  We have a future because Jesus is the Lamb who was slain!”

            John heard the residents of heaven sing their song, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.”   But then he hears another song, not coming from Heaven, but coming from earth.  “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever.’”  Every creature in this world nods in agreement with the angels and the elders and the living beings.  Every creature in this world echoes their song.  And will we join them?  Will we too sing, “To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!”   We have an almighty God who can perform any miracle we would ever want Him to do.  We have an almighty God who would humble Himself even to the point of dying in order to save us.  We have a God who has given us eternal life in heaven!  We have a God who says, despite how dark the future is, despite how frightening the future is, Jesus is right there to watch out for us, and to keep us safe.

            That’s the treasure we have.  And when Jesus asks us to give Him some of our money, or when Jesus asks us to patiently endure some troubling time, or when Jesus asks us to give up your anger and treat that jerk with love and compassion, when Jesus asks us to stick our neck out and profess our faith, even though we may be ridiculed, will you do it?  IT IS REALLY WORTH IT to you?  I pray that each one of us will be like those grandparents, freezing on those cold metal bleachers, watching their granddaughter!  And like them say, “Oh yeah, that’s my Savior Jesus!  Yes!  Most Definitely!  HE IS REALLY WORTH IT!