Our Understanding of Jesus as Lord
Pastor Jim Kniseley preached this sermon at Resurrection on April 21, 2013, the Fourth Sunday of Easter. The text for this sermon is Revelation 7:9-17.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Our second lesson today is from the last book of the Bible, the Book of the Revelation to St. John. In 22 chapters we get to see a vision of heavenly events that are beyond time. Today’s reading from chapter 7 presents a snapshot of heaven. What we see in that snapshot is pretty important for understanding who Jesus Christ really is and what our place will be in heaven. Would you pretend with me that there is one the wall beside the pulpit a picture being projected of heaven from chapter 7. Use your imagination!
In the center of the picture is a throne. And who is on it? The answer is God, of course. And who else is there? It is the Lamb, and that is Jesus Christ. Some folks like to picture two thrones in their mind, one throne for God the Father and a second throne for Jesus the Son. Today I would like to show you that a better way to picture this scene in heaven is to see just one throne.
Before we take up a discussion of God’s throne, let’s see in the snapshot who is around the throne. In the preceding 8 verses we have heard of the 144,000 folks from the twelve tribes of Israel who are in the picture. And now John writes, “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” So I guess our picture has to be pretty large since the number of people around the throne of God is so many that we can’t count them. I find that information to be very reassuring about the grace of God and the extent of God’s salvation.
And what is everyone around the throne doing that is so wonderful? They are worshipping God. The words and songs they use are reflected in the worship we use every Sunday here at Resurrection and in thousands of congregations throughout the world. John writes, “They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
I invite you today to take note when we say or sing words that reflect this heavenly worship.
The hymn of praise in our 8:30 liturgy is a striking foretaste of this heavenly worship:
The gospel acclamation in our 11:00 liturgy today also presents a striking foretaste of this heavenly worship:
He is Lord, He is Lord!
He is risen from the dead and He is Lord!
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess,
That Jesus Christ is Lord.
John Calvin asked the question, “What is the chief purpose of human beings?” The answer he came up with is a good one: “The chief purpose of human beings is to worship God.” I would add: that is our heavenly destiny, and I agree that worship is the most important thing we can do on this earth.
Let’s get back to our snapshot of heaven and my thought that there is only one throne in our picture and not two. We will be using the Nicene Creed today as our confession of Christian Faith. This is an ancient creed of the Church, written between the years 325 and 381. One of the reasons it was adopted is because there was a popular heresy that says that Jesus is not God, he is inferior or lesser, and that God the Father is the only one who is worthy to be worshipped and prayed to. And so this creed is a response, voted upon by bishops from throughout the Christian world of the 4th century, and used today by Catholics, and Orthodox, and many Protestants. I hope that when we use the Nicene Creed today, you will not miss the emphasis that God and the Son are equal, that both are worshiped and glorified, that God and the Son Jesus are One, neither is more important than the other, that both were there at creation and both were there on the cross and the Holy Spirit comes from both of them.
When we confess in the creed that (the Son) is seated at the right hand of the Father, we can rightly ask, “Is the Son literally sitting next to the Father or is the idea being expressed that Jesus again shares authority with the Father?” So, I now project two pictures for you from chapter 7. The one on the left has one throne and the one on the right has two thrones. You choose the one that helps you best understand the eternal and beautiful truth of the relationship of God the Father and Jesus the Son.
Let me conclude with the words of Jesus today in the gospel reading from John:
The Father and I are one. To this we can say “Thanks be to God.” Amen!