Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Lamb Who Was Slain (A sermon based on Revelation 5:11-14)

Do you ever feel like you're not worthy of anything good? Well, to be honest, on your own, you're not. For failing to give Jesus the glory due him you and I are worthy of nothing but hell. But because of his great grace to us, the Lamb who was slain, has made us worthy of heaven. And that makes him truly worthy of our praise -- both now and forever in heaven. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Revelation 5:11-14 and be encouraged again to give your praise to our Risen Redeemer who is revealed as the worthy Lamb who was slain...

The Risen Redeemer Revealed as…
The Lamb Who Was Slain
A sermon based on Revelation 5:11-14
Sunday, April 14, 2013 – Easter 3C 

76,468 people. That's how many can fit into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Superbowl XLVII (47) was held this past February 3rd. 76,468 people. 71,024 people were in attendance. (Though I'm not sure if that counts the electricians they brought in to restore power.) J That's still a lot of people.

But the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is small in comparison to the largest stadium in the United States. Any guesses where it is? It's Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a seating capacity of 109, 901. And U of M can boast that every home game since 1975 has drawn over 100,000 people – for over 200 consecutive contests played at home! That's a lot of people.

Sacred Mosque of Mecca, which houses the Kabaa (pretty much a huge idol) holds 4 million people. They all circle around the black cube and bow down facing it. If you've ever seen pictures, you've seen a very distorted and perverted picture of what takes place in our text this morning.

In John's vision he sees literally millions of angels encircle a throne in heaven. The Greek says "many angels, the arithmetic of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands." If we take "thousands" to mean only two thousand and do the arithmetic, (2,000 x 2,000) we get the modest number of 4 million. Or if we translate "myriads" to be ten thousand and do the arithmetic, (10,000 x 10,000) we get 100 million angels. That's a lot of angels. The point is clear: There were so many angels that John couldn't count them all. And they were all singing. Now that's a big choir!

After writing the seven letters to the seven churches that Jesus dictated to John, he was invited in to view God's throne room. And this is what he saw… A throne in the center with 24 thrones around it, four six-winged angels flying around continually praising God, a glassy sea with an emerald rainbow, and he heard the most magnificent song! But when he looked at the throne, he saw the lamb and the song changed. And this is what John heard… 

11 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. 12 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!"

13 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!"

14 The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped. 

What understatement! Jesus is worthy "…to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise…" Literally worthy is just that: What is it worth? What value? What value can you give the Son of God? What can you give that would ever equal the worth of what Jesus has done—for the guilt and the shame and the hell he endured? But what else can you say? What words can describe the glory due to Jesus?!

He does deserve power over all things, the wealth of the world, he deserves honor and glory and praise. He deserves everything! But how can the Omnipotent receive power or strength? He already has all power! How can the Omniscient receive wisdom? He already knows all things! What wealth can the God of the Universe who made all things possibly receive?

Well, he deserves my power and my strength—to be used for him, put into service for him all that I do. He deserves my wealth to be used for his glory, spending what he's given me to bring honor to him. He deserves my wisdom to be put into service for his Kingdom—not for my selfish purposes! He deserves my adoration and attention and praise. He deserves my everything!

And he deserves it all right now. He is alive. He is still the Living One, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. And so, the Risen Redeemer still deserves these things. We should give him our strength, wisdom, wealth, and honor every moment of every day. For he is worthy of all that we can give for what he's done. These are what we should give him.

But we don't. Instead we give him whining and complaining—that he hasn't done enough for us. That he doesn't care for us the way we want. We give him rebellion, worshiping created things instead of the Creator. (cf. Romans 1:25) We worship paper, in pursuit of more money. We worship metal loving our boats or cars more than God. We worship plastic, always seeking to be entertained by our gadgets.

Worthy is the Lamb. But are we worthy of him?

Because we withhold our love, we aren't worthy of his love. Because we fail to give him his due, we aren't worthy of his blessings. Because we fail to serve him, we aren't worthy of his protection. French philosopher, Voltaire, understood that when he said, "Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do." And in our guilt, we certainly aren't worthy to enter his heaven. We aren't worthy to sing in that choir. That choir ought to consist of just holy and sinless angels who have never rebelled against God or broken his commands like we have.

But ask God if we are worthy. Ask God what we're worth to him. And he says we're worth everything to him. We're worth more than his own sinless Son. Ask Jesus what value he places on us and he says, "I value your life more than my own." And that's why the Lamb was slain.

That title, the Lamb (which is used more than 20 times in Book of Revelation), draws our attention back to John the Baptist's proclamation in John 1(:29): "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" And it draws us back to the Exodus and the Passover—to the flawless lamb that was slain, whose blood was painted on the door frame so God's wrath would pass over that house. Jesus is the Lamb of God who was slain on the cross, slaughtered for us, as a sacrifice for sin, to take away the sin of the world, so that God's wrath might pass over us.

The heavenly choir sang a new song to that Lamb. These are the lyrics to that new song that come right before our text: "You are worthy… because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." (5:9)

He has purchased us to be his own. With his blood, he's taken away our sin. Now we who have so often sided with satan, belong to God as his dearly loved children! We are his own. And we can't help but sing his praise! It wasn't just angels that were in that heavenly choir…

13 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!"

John saw everyone and everything join in the heavenly choir! What comfort for us who endure persecution and problems and pain in this life—with lost jobs and broken relationships, with financial problems and failing health, with the daily grind wearing us down. We may not know what God has in store for us in this life, but we do know what's in store for the future—that one day very soon we will join that heavenly choir and sing our praise to the Lamb who was slain, who purchased us to be his own, who is worthy of all honor and praise.

And even right now, though we may seem to be a small number of remnant faithful,  we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. We are a part of the myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. We are a part of that choir! And while things may continue to be hard in these end times, just like Jesus said they would be, in the end Jesus wins! And so do you, who by God's grace, are on his team!

Ever see the Back to the Future movies? You know where Marty McFly is jumping back and forth between the past and the future seeing past or future versions of himself or his siblings or parents. I wonder if it was like that for John. As he looked at the twenty four thrones around the Lamb—symbolic of the twelve Old Testament tribes and the twelve New Testament apostles—did he see Moses on the throne of Levi? Did he see David on the throne of Judah? If he weren't in heaven would he be tempted to throw a pebble at the back of Peter's head? Or like Marty McFly in Back to the Future did John get a glimpse of himself sitting in one of those thrones?

I don't know what John saw. But I hope when you see those 24 thrones, you see yourself. You are forgiven by the Lamb who was slain. You will be sitting next to him in heaven! And you are a part of the choir singing your praise to him—even now!

So praise the Lamb who was slain! Give him your strength and power as you live for him. Give him your wisdom as you use your mind and all your gifts to his glory. Give him your wealth, managing it all to serve your Savior and share the Good News of the Lamb. Give him your everything as you live boldly and worship him until you join that glorious choir in heaven and sing along with them:

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! …To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"  Amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611

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