Friday, November 20, 2009

“Do You Know Who You Are?” (Revelation 7:13-15)

S-1145 11/1/09 All Saints Day, preached in Galilee (O) #10; (S) #376; (C) #437

Texts: Revelation 714:6-7; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Theme: “Do You Know Who You Are?” (Revelation 7:13-15)

Question: “Have you asked any questions lately?” SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Reformation celebration is from the book of Revelation: “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:13-15).

Introduction: In Nomine Iesu

Saints in Christ, if someone asked you: “Who are you? What would you say?” I am sure some of you would say, I am a husband, father; wife, mother; son, daughter; brother, sister; banker, Doctor, Pastor, commander, retired, etc. But honestly who are you? Who do people say you are? Better yet, who does God say you are?

To get the answer to our question, we listen to the words of John in our reading today. “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Dear Saints, you blessed by Your Father, what a legacy, what a future, what a promise is given to you in that sweet word in Revelation 7! The sun shall not smite you, your hunger and thirst are met…at the banquet with the Lamb (At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing, LSB 633)! But today I have even better news about who you are and what is to come: You are a SAINT of God in Christ Jesus now. Or, as John put it in our Epistle, you are a Child of God – fully adopted, received into the family, beloved, Baptized, forgiven, redeemed, blood-bought, heaven-bound and cherished!

Saints in Christ, this is the Gift we celebrate on All Saints Day. And it is for saints of every day, even today. Who can number God’s elect? Only He can. Who can know the depth of our need, of our sin, and of the cost to redeem, to cherish, to abide with us? Only He can. Who can make a sinner, lowly in spirit, to become an inheritor of heaven? Only He can. And notice, heaven’s kingdom is our inheritance. It is not our paycheck; it is not our position in life; and it is not even our name. We have not earned it, not one ounce of love, not one micro-gram of forgiveness, not one drop of blood that flowed from His hands and feet nor one drop of water and blood from His side. Yet it is all yours, for the sake of Him who alone is poorest in Spirit, having become chief of sinners in our stead. What a legacy, what a promise, what a present reality and gift!

Today, you and I are standing on the same spot the Sermon on the Mount was preached. The Gospel reading informs us that Jesus sees the crowd and so goes up to the mountain to begin teaching them, (point to my left-over there). That “seeing” is the same seeing that causes Him to have compassion on later crowds, like the sheep without a shepherd in Matthew 9:3, or at the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14:14. Jesus sees them, and His words are gifts of grace for current trouble and need.

Blessed are we that He sees us, poor in spirit, and bequeaths us His kingdom – the realm and gift of the King of kings(Psalm 51:17). Yes, and blessed are we when we see how He mourned over our fallen lot. Blessed are we, when we have that same Spirit upon us through His Word and Sacraments, for comfort is our inheritance. Blessed are we when meekness is our calling. I love what Psalm 138:6 says of the meek, 6 For though the LORD is high, He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand delivers me. 8 The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Yes, we inherit everything now, the earth, and so much more.

Yes, hungering and thirsting for what we do not see in this life apart from Him, that is, His Righteousness, we are satisfied. Oh, we fret and fight, to be sure. We are not perfect… not yet! Ah, but He who has sanctified, that is Saint-ified us – He is, and so hungering and thirsting for what is ours today on the Table, the Meal of Forgiveness, for here we receive in the cup of blessing and in the broken bread that which alone satisfies our hunger and thirst – His righteousness.

Oh, and His mercy, it keeps us. To be sainted means to have been the object of mercy. The arrow of mercy flies to the bulls-eye of our heart and life so that now we may show mercy on others. Mercy is a heavenly gift. The world knows only Justice. It cannot know mercy, for this flows only from Christ. So, when you are merciful, all that you pour out on others then flows back to you again… only sweeter. You know this beatitude well, my saints and His saints. What a gift, what a legacy, now and forever.

Here we are today, walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Walking were He taught, healed, touched the sick and dying, and ate with former sinners made saints by His blood. As you look around you see with human eyes people from every corner of the world. If you pay close attention you will hear many different languages spoken. You see people that don’t look like, speak like, or act like you. But these people are the redeemed of the Lord—the one’s whose close have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus.

Here in this place, you and I with our eyes and ears see and hear a bit of the fulfillment of Revelation 7 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Rev. 7:9-11). As we continue to walk around this country pay closer attention, listen more attentively and you will hear Hebrew, English, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, French etc. These people have come just like you to know more about Jesus, His life, His ministry, and His mission in the world. For He came to wash us and make us SAINTS by the blood He shed on the wooden cross of Calvary.

For the next few days, you will walk in the footsteps of the Savior. You will see different sights, hear different sounds, and taste different food. But none of it matters. What matters is YOUR place in the Promise Land of Heaven.

I hope and pray that I will by the grace of God remind you of who you are, and whose you are—YOU ARE GOD’S SAINTS. Purchased not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood poured for the forgiveness of your sins. Here in this place, I hope you will see more than just buildings and boats; churches and cathedrals, people and places; but that you see God. What a legacy! Yes, on this All Saints Day we celebrate not death but life, we celebrate the gift of His having made peace with us, destroying death and all that separates us from Him. Surely He is our peace who has broken down the barrier between us and Himself (Ephesians 2:14) – therefore, being at peace by The Peacemaker, when we reflect that peace, it flows out from us, then returns, unabated, unharmed, even multiplied – and we are at peace, even now. What a legacy!

To be sure this is the legacy of the Saints: The Peace that more than abides, yes, the Peace that bore our sins… our Jesus. Let our legacy be summed up in this paraphrase of Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all, for indeed, the Lord is near unto you. You mustn’t continue to worry about anything now, but in everything, including these present trials, by prayer and petition make your requests known unto Him who abides, your Jesus, oh, and the peace of God, that Peace that outstrips your fears and needs by meeting them on His own Cross, He is guarding and keeping you in His perfect gift, in Him, now and unto eternity!

Beloved in the Lord, the next time someone asks you, “Who are you? What would you say?” Tell them clearly, confidently and completely, YOU ARE A FORMER SINNERS TRANSFORMED TO SAINTS BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS. Tell them you are GOD’S SAINTS for now and for eternity. Tell them of the joy of being blessed by Him who blesses us beyond our wildest imagination. Tell them, of your legacy, your inheritance, your eternity that is secured in heaven.

ON this all saints day, remember dear Saint of God, What a legacy! Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Soli Deo Gloria