Commentary by Walter Albritton

May 27, 2007

John Allows Us to Know the Wonderful End of the Story


Revelation 22:6-21

Key Verse: The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! – Revelation 22:20

Sometimes life becomes so frustrating that we find ourselves praying, “Come, Lord Jesus, come today! Bring this misery to an end!” Most of us can identify with such a prayer.

Reflect on the violence and suffering across the world today and you begin to wonder how God can be so patient. Surely he must be exasperated with man’s inhumanity to man. How long will God tolerate such evil?

On occasion, with tongue in cheek, I have said to my colleagues, “Jesus is coming soon; you had better look busy!”

Speculation about the return of Christ always reminds me of a comment Christian Philosopher Elton Trueblood made.  He said, “Ten thousand years from now people will look back and think of us as being among the early Christians.” Obviously he did not feel the end was near!

Whatever we may think about the return of our Lord, the bottom line is that only God knows the day and the hour. To speculate about the end time is a waste of time. We have our marching orders. Our assignment is clear – to share with others the difference Christ is making in our daily lives.

Today’s observance of Pentecost Sunday should remind us what Jesus said in speaking about the promise of the Father: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses to Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). More than it needs programs or buildings today’s church needs the anointing power of the Holy Spirit. The good news is that Spirit power is as available today as it was on the day of Pentecost. We only need to ask and God will turn on the power! Then our churches can come alive.

We cannot know the time of Jesus’ return but we can receive the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to share the good news with others. Rather than speculate about the end time we can concern ourselves with making the gospel known to the ends of the earth.

While John did say Jesus was returning “soon,” he seemed more concerned to offer lofty praise to Jesus. He calls him “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Jesus was there at the beginning of time. He will be there at the end of time. As the song says, “He holds the whole world in his hands.” Time and space have their beginning and their end in Christ. We need not fret – if we are in his hands!

As “the root and the descendant of David,” Jesus links us who are Christians with the people of Israel. The history of the Jews is our history. Through Christ we have become the people of God. Modern scientists tell us about the billions in the universe, but for us Jesus shines brightest. He is now and always our “bright morning star” and “the light of the world.”

John makes sure we understand how eagerly the God who loves us desires for us to “come” to him. “Come” is one of the most beautiful words in the English language. Among the statements loved most by Americans is the gracious invitation: “Come to supper.” We can all identify with the joy that comes when we are invited to a meal prepared for us by loving hands! My heart still sings when I recall Mama calling: “Come and get it! Supper is ready!” Our family had little money but there was always food on the table.

Greater still is the invitation of God to come to his table. All are welcome. None who are willing to come will be turned away. He asks only that we admit we are thirsty and then we may drink freely the precious “water of life.” In their day John and Charles Wesley proclaimed in word and song that God has invited all to come to Christ for salvation.  No song says this better than Charles Wesley’s great hymn, “Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast”:

Come, sinners, to the gospel feast;

Let every soul be Jesus’ guest.

Ye need not one be left behind,

For God hath bid all humankind.

Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed,

Ye restless wanderers after rest;

Ye poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind,

In Christ a hearty welcome find.

This is the time, no more delay!

This is the Lord’s accepted day.

Come thou, this moment, at his call,

And live for him who died for all.

We cannot know when Christ will return. We can know that today is the day to answer Christ’s invitation. We can go to him who says “come to me”! And we can tell others the joy we have in knowing the end of the story! We know in the end, love wins, and God is love. Glory!

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