“Behold, He Comes
Revelation 1:4-8 “Behold, He Comes!” 11-21-21
[Prayer] May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, O’Lord, my rock and redeemer Psalm 19:14
By a show of hands how many of you have seen the movie “The Return of the Jedi”? [pause] The movie begins with an image of a new planet-killing space station called the DeathStar still under construction. A shuttle is flying to the space station. When the ship lands a large detachment of soldiers is all lined up in a military dress formation. The ranking officer overseeing the construction of this new Death Star walks up hurriedly, clearly afraid of whomever is arriving on this shuttle. The gang plank of the shuttle lowers down and who should walk out but the dreaded Darth Vader. This is the guy who used his power to strike fear into his staff by strangling anyone who failed to complete their tasks. The administrator has good reason to be afraid. The construction of this new Death Star is running behind and Darth Vader is there to put them back on schedule. The Administrator protests; insisting the Emperor is asking for the impossible. The Administrator says he needs more men. Vader responds then you can tell the Emperor that when he arrives. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
The reason I have brought up “The Return of the Jedi” is because the Revelation of John is a specific kind of letter called apocalyptic literature. Many people believe apocalyptic literature is given to God’s people to foretell the future. The truth is apocalyptic literature is written to give hope to people who are suffering under persecution. On the Death Star the people were experiencing persecution under the harsh work conditions they were under to complete the Death Star on the Emperor’s time table. That is fiction. In Egypt the Jews were under the harsh work conditions placed on them by Pharaoh. That is a fact. In the first century, when this morning’s passage was revealed to John, Christians were suffering persecution by the Romans. That is a provable historical fact. Christianity was against the law and the Roman Emperors Nero and Diocletian had been ruthlessly persecuting Christians all over the Roman Empire. In fact John, who was likely an elder of the early church, was suffering persecution in that he had been exiled to the island of Patmos. It is to John the revelation comes and John sends out the revelation to the seven major churches in Asia.
What is the message John has been given? “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Rev 1:7). There is even a song about it. Margaret, do you know this one? “Behold he comes. Riding on the clouds. At the trumpet call. So lift your voice. It’s the year of jubilee, and out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.” (Robin Mark 1996). Do y’all know that one? Let’s sing it again. “Behold he comes. Riding on the clouds. At the trumpet call. So lift your voice. It’s the year of jubilee, and out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.” (X2)
Why would Christians be excited about the return of the Christ? I mean, we are all sinners. We are all responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, and yet we are supposed to be joyful about the return of the Lord. Why? Why shouldn’t we be afraid the Christ would return and take His revenge on us? [Pause] The answer comes from the Exodus. When the Jews and Semitic peoples in Egypt were under hard persecution under Pharaoh, the Jews cried out to God. God heard their cries and did something no other wanna be little “g” god had ever done or ever will do. God visited Pharaoh and Egypt with 10 plagues. God parted the Red Sea, and God destroyed Pharaoh’s army. Nothing like that had ever happened before. Nothing like that has happened since, and nothing like that is happening today. God continued to watch over God’s chosen people for thousands of years. When they were faithful to God, and served God as their King, God was faithful to Israel and looked after them. For thousands of years Israel looked to God as their saviort. When Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross all of us crazy, sinful Gentiles were bought with the blood of Christ and adopted into God’s holy family. We share in Israel’s inheritance. Which means when God shows up to fight for Israel, God shows up to fight for us as well. Amen? Amen! Amen?! Amen!!
First century Christians were in a tough spot. Perhaps there are many of you here today or out there on Facebook who can relate. Hear this good news. God is still God. Amen? Amen. Jesus is still the King. Amen? Amen. It does not matter what kind of mess you are in, God is still fighting for you. Amen? Amen. God is fighting for you with grace. God is fighting for you through the love of your friends, family, church family and neighbors. God loves you. No. God is not going to fix all of your problems. But when we face our enemies, our addictions, our pride, and our selfishness God is right there giving us the strength to stand. When we are scared, God is there fighting for you too. The truth is God loves you. And because God loves us God has given us work to do.
We have been created to be a holy priesthood unto the Lord. It is our job, like the priests of old, to help people refocus their lives on God. Our job is to help people pray to God; to offer service to God, to give the full tithe to God; to regularly search the Scriptures, and to be equipped to share the love of God with others. As I look at the world we have a tremendous amount of work to do. It cannot be done on our own steam. We need God’s help, and God is eager to give it. However, to receive God’s help we have to get up off of our pews and walk out those doors and go to work. We all need to go to work sharing the Gospel with people who do not have a church home outside of these doors. We have work to do. Are we getting to it?
Back when John Wesley was running class meetings brother John did not have any problem holding people accountable for their actions. Really and truly the Methodist Church ought to be the accountability denomination. Here. Let me give you a taste of how Wesley handled accountability. John Wesley would ask everyone in the class meeting to stand up. Please stand as you are able. Then Wesley would say, “If you have led someone to Christ you may sit down.” My sisters and brothers if you have led someone to Christ in the last year you may sit down. John Wesley would then look at those still standing and ask, “Why haven’t you led someone to Christ?” Look around this room. How many leaders of this congregation are still standing? We cannot lead to a place we have not been. Behold, he comes. Every time we have Holy Communion we say those words, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” Amen? Amen! Amen?! Amen!! Christ will come again. Amen? Amen! Do you believe it? If you believe it say, amen. Amen? Amen! Then why are there still so many people standing? Jesus is coming. We have work to do. Behold, He is coming. (You may be seated.) Advent starts just next week. Advent is the time of waiting with expectation for the coming of the King through the birth of Jesus Christ. Behold he comes. That means we ALL have work to do. Not just one or two of us. We all have work to do. The harvest is plentiful. We have much reason to give thanks and praise to God for all God has blessed us with, but there is a lot more to harvest. There is a lot more work to be done, and this work should not be left up to a few. Behold the King is coming. When He arrives what do you hope He says to you? Do you want the King of Kings to ask why haven’t you been working? Or do you want he who was and is and is to come to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”
In the name of Jesus Christ,