(sermon note: 03-29 sermon note)
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth.’
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,
‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!’
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!’
And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshiped.
What better way is there to close our Lenten sermon series on the Lamb of God than with a passage from the final book of the Bible, Revelation? Of course the Lamb appears in the closing pages of scripture. That’s what it’s all about! The whole point of scripture is to reveal the mind of God, the workings of God, the love of God. It can oftentimes be difficult to recognize the work and love of God in our own lives because we get so caught up in actually living them. It’s important to sometimes step back and reflect on God’s work in our lives and we can do that either through prayer or simply dwelling in scripture. We can see how God worked in the lives of so many people over so many years and in so doing learn to trust his good work in our own lives. He is at work in our lives, loving us and protecting us and even guiding us, just as He was for several generations of his beloved chosen people before us. His love is great indeed!
So great that He was willing to sacrifice the Son, the Lamb, as a ransom to set us free from the powers of sin and death. And it was a necessary sacrifice as we heard from our reading for tonight. According to John’s vision, God held a scroll presumably listing the names of all his chosen people. But the scroll was sealed with seven seals thereby making it unopenable, in effect keeping God from being able to reach his people. The seals represent sin and death. I know, not seven separate things but remember the number seven represented “perfection” or “completion” in ancient times. The scroll was “perfectly” sealed by sin and death and no one and nothing could open it. Except for Jesus, of course. Except for the sacrifice he made in giving up his life for us. The seals were broken and God once again had access to his beloved people. God’s love for us is fully revealed to us in his willingness to die for us. And we get this! Anyone who’s lost a loved one while serving in the military gets this. Anyone who’s had parents work multiple jobs to provide for their family gets this. Anyone who’s read “Romeo and Juliet” gets this! We get the idea of sacrifice…the idea of someone giving up their life for the lives of others…to us, there is no clearer illustration of love for someone else. To show that love is more important than life itself is a deeply powerful witness! We do it for each other all the time, even God did it for us.
Not that I’m encouraging any of us to kill ourselves to show our love for another but it is a mighty witness to love. So mighty that it elicits great praise and thanksgiving! We heard how myriads of myriads, thousands of thousands of angels in heaven were rejoicing over the sacrifice God made to redeem us from sin and death. They were celebrating the great love God has for us. God loves us! God would do anything for us, even die for us! God wants to be in relationship with us just as much as He was in relationship with all the people of scripture. The sacrifice of the Lamb is a testament to his love for us and we ought to do nothing but sing praises to him as the angels did, “To the one seated on throne and the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.