It started off so easy. A father and his young son strolled down a flat, sandy nature trail. The further the two hiked, the more rugged the trail grew. Boulders littered the path, forcing both hikers to squeeze around them. Thigh-deep creeks sliced the trail in two, making them wade through churning currents. Trees had fallen on the path, leaving them no choice but to hop up and over the slimy, mossy bark. Finally, after hours of climbing and shuffling, reaching and grabbing, they saw the trail’s end. It meant no more obstacles, no more exhausting effort, no more struggles. All that separated them from reaching the goal was a deep chasm.
Father and son scoured the area for a bridge, but found nothing. They searched for the start of this chasm with the hope of walking around it, but it stretched both ways for miles. The only way over this challenge was over a fallen oak tree that bridged this great divide.
Father went first. His eyes locked onto the end of the trail. He carefully placed one foot on the log, and then heaved his entire weight onto the tree. One foot slid ahead of the other foot. He crept forward inch-by-inch, safely reaching the other side.
Turning around, he called out for his son to cross. Yet, the son sees so many things around him— so many dangers, curiosities, fears. He questions the sturdiness of the tree. He wonders what joys might lie on his side of the divide. He fears the raging waters could drown him. So many distractions pull on him, but the father calls, ‘Keep your eyes on me.’
Keep your eyes on me. Last Thursday marked the ascension of Jesus Christ; Jesus crossed from earth into heaven. You (and I) still stand on the other side— in a world that puts a constant strain on your faith. Still, Jesus says: ‘Keep your eyes on me!’ He prepares you for the Final Day. So, Live prepared for the Day. In his final Revelation, Jesus reveals earthly strength and eternal comfort with these words: “Behold, I am coming soon!”
He makes that promise not just once, but three times in one single chapter. Three times! …and twice in our selected verses! (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20): “Behold, I am coming soon!” That is true. That is a fact. The entire Bible confirms that. On the chosen day, at the precise second, [t]he Son of Man [will come] on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other… And so we will be with the Lord forever (Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). You stand so certain of Jesus’ return that you confess it to be true [in the Apostle’s Creed]: I believe that… Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. Yes, Jesus is Coming Soon.
How many times did that phrase cross your mind this morning? “Today could be the day! Today I might step foot into my heavenly home! Today I could see Jesus with my eyes! Today Jesus could come!” Honestly? I did not— apart from prepping for this sermon. Jesus has been gone 2,000 years. That is not our definition of ‘soon.’ In fact, the Twelve disciples said Jesus would return ‘soon’ (Romans 13:11; James 5:8). I imagine Christians 500-years ago waited for Jesus. My grandparents believed Jesus would return. Yet, nothing! Jesus did not return on a predicted date. He did not return when one group waited for him. He has not returned in my lifetime. Jesus promises to come ‘soon,’ but millennia have passed. So, honestly, that is why this thought never enters my mind. If Jesus has not returned by now, it appears the likelihood of his return is still far off.
That, dear friends, leads to a very dangerous temptation. If we feel Jesus will not return in 10-years …10-months …10-days …10-minutes, we can let our faith-life slip. We figure there will always be time to address sin later. To grow in our faith later. To repent of a pleasurable wrong later.
Jesus’ response to that is: Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. Jesus will examine every single heart. He will find hearts that stubbornly boast: “Jesus, I refuse to match my relationship to your commands. I do not want to obey you.” Jesus will find hearts that arrogantly sneer: “Jesus, I doubt that you created the world. I doubt that you actually did miracles. I doubt you really saved me. I doubt your life changed mine” Jesus will find hearts boldly bragging: “Jesus, I will not love my neighbor as myself. I don’t need to.” Jesus can even find those hearts sitting here, in a church, for decades. Hearts almost daring him: “You are not here yet. You will not return. I still have time.” Jesus will give that heart hell.
That’s why he says it not just once, but three times in one single chapter: “Behold, I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20) Yes, Jesus will give to everyone according to what he has done— including you (and me)!
Ah! We are by no means perfect! And sometimes we even deliberately do what is wrong! What will he give us? A ‘life’-sentence. Life! God levied against Jesus a punishment that corresponds to all we have done. Yes, he slaps Jesus for stubborn boasting. He pulverizes Jesus for our arrogant sneering. He gives Jesus hell. The innocent blood of Jesus spills from his veins, and God takes you (and me), dips us in that innocent blood, and washes us. He scrubs away boasting. He purifies foolish arrogance. He lifts off death. Plug yourself into verse 14. ‘Blessed are you who have washed your robes, so that you may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates of the city.’ Jesus describes what he has done for you! Jesus prepares you for life!
Then he ascends into heaven to prepare a room for you. If he has gone to prepare a room for you, he will then come back so that you also may be where he is(John 14:2-3). Right now, we have the right to the tree of life— the tree found in the Garden of Eden, the tree that brings unending life (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24). You have life reserved in heaven. You will feast on that tree in perfection forever!
Jesus guarantees it. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” “I am showing you what will happen. I am showing you the future.” One day the future will be your present.
Yes, we stand on the earthly side of the divide. Jesus has crossed into heaven, but has not left you orphaned (John 14:18). He turns to say: I am Coming Soon! I have prepared you for the Day. Now, Live prepared for the Day.
How? Keep focused on your eternal home. You have help. The [Holy] Spirit says: “Come!” You, come! Approach these words. The Holy Spirit compels us to rejoice in what God prepares for you. He deepens our appreciation that God prepares heaven for you. He tightens your fingers around the splendid truth that God has made you his special child— that you live shaped by his Word because you are his child.
You are the bride of Christ. The bride, that is, every believer married to Jesus by faith, says, “Come!” You carry those words to each other. You say them to yourself. “Come! Come and see Jesus rule. Come and see Jesus watch you. Come and see Jesus strengthen you. Come to these words. As the bride of Christ, each day you take another step down the wedding aisle towards your groom. Live with a heart filled with love for the One who loved you. That is how you live prepared for the Day.
There’s more! [L]et him who hears say, “Come!” The ‘one who hears’ is you. ‘ You’ tell the world: ‘Come!’ Because the world needs to hear that message. Your children may be wandering spiritually. What do you say to them? After all, they are adults. They are exposed to a world that creates the beliefs it wants to believe. They make their own decisions. What do you say when a child who once knew Jesus now no longer worships him? What do you say when your son leaves what you taught him for a church that satisfies his ideas? What do you say to a daughter that always has an excuse to stay out of worship? It’s easy to say nothing .It’s easy to shrug off the false things your child hears about Jesus. It’s easy to surrender parental responsibilities. Yes, your child may be an adult. Yes, your child may make their own decisions. Yet, you have God’s truth. You have a message of God freely, completely washing you in the blood of Jesus— a message very few churches openly embrace, a message a nonbelieving world will never understand without hearing (Romans 10:17). So, how do you respond? [L]et him who hears say, “Come!” “Come, son, and listen to the Bible.” “Come, Daughter, and see your Savior.” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Nothing satisfies more on a hot, humid day than ice-cold, refreshing water. Nothing satisfies both conscience and heart, more than knowing a Jesus who is coming soon! Coming not in terror, but with healing in his wings. You know Jesus is Coming Soon! Live prepared for the Day.
Jesus is Coming Soon! He can, because everything needed to save you is complete. He does not need to battle Satan again. He does not need to die again. He does need to offer new payment for sin. All is done! All has been accepted for your benefit!
Jesus crossed from earth into heaven. You (and I) still stand on the other side— in a world that puts a constant strain on your faith. Still, Jesus says: ‘Keep your eyes on me!’ He prepares you for the Day. So, Live prepared for the Day. Keep turning for what is wrong. Keep clinging to my forgiveness. Keep coming to the Word and drinking that refreshing revelation. Life has an end— and you will walk across the divide into life eternal. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.