Third Sunday of Easter – Epistle

by Crossings

Worthy Is The Lamb
Third Sunday of Easter
Revelation 5:11-14
Analysis by Bruce T. Martin

Rev. 5: 11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads and myriads and thousands of thousands, 12singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.”

Author’s note: The Book of Revelation is written for the seven churches named in 1:11. But it speaks to all the churches, past, present, and future; including yours and mine. This letter is directed to us! “Let anyone who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches!” To dwell on the faults of others, though they may be similar or identical to our own, is lazy and disingenuous (see 3:14-22). But crossing this text with your church will compel you to “reveal” in the Diagnosis your own particular shortfalls. Only in this way will your “worthiness” also appear.


DIAGNOSIS: Clinging To Sin

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) – Hypocrites
Doing what is obviously wrong–even in the eyes of the world–when we (the redeemed of Christ) know better is hypocritical. To fail to love, to suffer, to die is the same. Worse yet is to do something because we must, and call it love; to give a little, but call it enough; to struggle with checks-and-balances, but call it sacrifice. Worst of all is to worship Christ, crucified and risen, but curse each other on the way to the church parking lot.

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) – Blasphemers
We believe with our lips that Jesus is alive, but where are our hearts? God is good, right? By why does Jesus have to call us disciples (or “saints” — called out for a purpose; or “apostles” — sent out with a message)? We often do not believe or desire to be Jesus’ disciples, saints, and apostles. Perhaps we find these titles too lofty. Perhaps we think them unbelievable. And, if such is the case, then we do not really believe that Jesus is our Lord!

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) – Zombies
Crushed under the weight of daily living and our failures to be saints of God, we give up hope in God. God therefore indeed crushes us and God’s love for us is nowhere to be found. We are humbled unto death, but we do not see the humility nor the cross–only the death. That’s the way it is for those who do not really believe that Jesus is alive.

PROGNOSIS: Clinging To Christ Even More

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution) – God, Ever Faithful
But, in fact, Jesus is alive! Death could not contain him! Sin could not cling to him! By the faithfulness of God, Jesus is risen from the dead and is Lord of all creation, equal in power and majesty to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. “You are worthy . . . for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (5:9). The cross–winning, as it does, saints for God–is what makes Christ worthy. The proof is loud and clear: All of Revelation chapter four is devoted to hailing the praise of God the worthy one, the one seated on the throne. Then in 5:1-10, Christ is shown equally worthy to stand before the throne and “to take the scroll and open its seals” (5:9). Finally, in our text (5:11-14), the declaration of Christ’s worthiness is sung throughout all creation in majesty and splendor. And, you may be sure, God’s faithfulness in Jesus the Christ will continue forever, for he alone opens the seals. Alleluia!

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution) – We, Ever Saints
Because Christ says we are worthy of his love, so we are: In faith, we are Christ-worthy. (As we believe, so we are, says Luther.) Although we are not yet without sin (for it still clings to this undying, unredeemed flesh). We are and remain saints of God through him who loves us: Jesus Christ. And so, anticipating the fullness of Christ’s reign and the eventual fullness of our faith, the whole creation proclaims our Christ-worthiness as ransomed saints (v. 13; see 22:1-5). Amen!

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) – We, Ever God’s
Because Jesus is risen from the dead, and we with him (this is faith-in-Christ), death is now behind us and true life is before us. Sure, we will fail to love, to suffer and to die on behalf of others. But insofar as such failures and afflictions drive us deeper into Christ’s faithful word, such failures are “divine failures” of which we ought not to be ashamed. For God is at work in us! We, the saints of God, are evidence that Christ is alive, that the old creation is under sentence of death, and that a new creation is being born. Amen, come Lord Jesus!

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  • Crossings

    Crossings is a community of welcoming, inquisitive people who want to explore how what we hear at church is useful and beneficial in our daily lives.

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