Sermon for November 6, 2022, All Saints’ Day (Observed)

Revelation 7:9-17 (All Saints’ Day—Observed)

“You Are Victorious”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT

November 6, 2022

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our text is today’s Reading from Revelation 7:

9After these things I looked, and behold, a great crowd, which no one is able to number, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and palm branches in their hands, 10and they were crying out with a loud voice, saying: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and [belongs] to the Lamb.” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the four winged creatures and they fell before the throne on their faces and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen. The blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” 13And one from the elders replied, saying to me, “These who are clothed with white robes, who are they and from where have they come?” 14And I answered him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are those who are coming out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15On account of this they are in the presence of the throne of God, and they worship Him day and night in His temple, and the One sitting on the throne will spread His tent over them. 16They will never hunger again nor ever again thirst, neither shall the sun fall upon them nor any scorching heat, 17because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and He will lead them to fountains of the waters of life, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

           How “victorious” are you feeling today? Did you wake up this morning with unbridled passion and joy for the Lord because you are victorious in Christ? You came to this Divine Service this morning filled with hope and peace and . . .  Well, if you did, you sure don’t look like it now? You look tired. And no, I don’t mean sleepy tired because you had an extra hour of sleep last night. I mean that you look tired—spiritually tired, beaten down, and worn out. Is that more accurate than saying how triumphant and joyful we are? I believe it is.

          You woke up again today with your body aching. The medical issues that have been troubling you are still there. You simply wish that you felt like yourself again for even a day.

          You came to worship today still depressed or filled with anxiety. You hide it well from most everyone, but it’s always there waiting to trouble you.

          You stopped at the gas station on the way here and put a few dollars’ worth of fuel in the tank. That’ll have to get you through the week. Your financial situation is becoming a problem in the current economy.

          And tomorrow is Monday, back in the office. She’ll be there. She’s always there. You bow your head to thank God for your lunch, and she’s there mocking you to your coworkers. You gave up reading your Bible app on your phone because she made your life so miserable about the fact that you were a “holy roller”, and the rest of the office wasn’t good enough to be in your presence. She watches your every move just so she can point out your sin when you screw up. The stress is starting to pile on.

          Obviously, I cannot illustrate all the things that take away from the hope, joy, and victory of being in Christ. I’ve chosen these to be reflective of some of the things that are at play in your lives. If we are honest, then, there’s not a lot of moments when we hop out of bed or go to work, school, or play feeling triumphant and victorious in Christ. The reality is that we feel pretty beat up by life in this world with all its troubles. You and I do suffer in this world of sin the ravages of tribulations. We are the ones who are under attack by the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. We lose hope. We lose confidence.

          In our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preaches, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34 CSB). In the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus reminds us that tribulation is out there just waiting to destroy the joy of faith where that faith doesn’t have enough root (Mark 4:17). Paul in Romans simply assumes that troubles and tribulations, including persecution, are going to be there as a part of life in a sin-filled, fallen creation. No Christian has immunity from severe suffering of body, mind, or spirit. The Christian, in his or her tribulation, will experience such pain and fears and threats to life and faith so much so that the depth of his or her soul is scorched in the fiery trial.

          That’s why you’re tired. You’re beaten down and worn out. You suffer. You struggle. You endure. You fight on. And the attacks come—the consequences of sin, including your sinful actions and words, the assaults of the devil, the world, and your own flesh. Feeling victorious? Probably not.

          John wasn’t feeling particularly victorious at this point in our text as he was receiving the revelatory unveiling of Jesus Christ. He had looked at some horrifying things as the first six seals of the seven-sealed scroll were opened. These are scene that melt a person’s heart like wax in awe and terror at what Jesus revealed. How much can a person take? Maybe you’re asking the same question this morning? “How much more can I take?” So, Jesus gives John an interlude between the opening of sixth and seventh seals. It is a vision of comfort for him and for you. The Lord is saying, “Look what your future in Jesus holds, dear Christian.” Triumph! Victory!

          Revelation 7 is a visual presentation of what you have to look forward to. Standing before God the Father’s throne, standing before the very Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, are an uncountable number of people from every ethnicity, tribe, people, and language. They are wearing white robes and waving palm branches—that’s a picture of a victory celebration. And, they are singing a victory song, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and [belongs] to the Lamb.” It’s His salvation and He’s given it to us! To this the very angels of God give their assent, Amen—“Yes, yes, it shall be so!” 

          And who are they, the members of this countless mass of people in white, waving the victor palm branch? They are the people that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, washed clean with His crimson blood. They are . . . you! They are your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout all ages and all places. John was viewing, and also allows us to see, the result of Christ’s triumphant victory. This untold number of people, you and I included, is victorious because of the blood of the Lamb. Because of the redeeming death of Jesus Christ and because He, the risen and victorious Lamb of God presents them to the heavenly Father, the crowd of people stands pure and holy in the presence of God. With sins forgiven by the blood of Jesus, and now covered with His own righteousness, they share in the triumph, in the victory of the Lamb, before their heavenly Father.

          Jesus shed His holy, precious blood, on the cross, covering over the sins of all people. In His sacrifice, Jesus took on Himself your sins and mine, and gave to us His flawlessness. Because Jesus is sinless, He fulfilled the Law perfectly as only He could. He kept all of the Father’s commandments. It is His shed blood that covers our flaws and imperfections as sinful creatures. Through Christ we come into full perfection. His perfection becomes ours. His righteousness is ours. His salvation is ours! His victory is ours!

          The scene in Revelation 7, then, is your victory celebration! It is your triumph! Your sins have been washed clean in the blood of Jesus Christ. As God promised through Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The Lord Jesus “has clothed [you] with the garments of salvation; he has covered [you] with the robe of righteousness,” His very own righteousness and holiness, so that you stand before God pure and holy (Isaiah 61:10). You share in Jesus’ victory over the devil, the world, and the flesh. Your sins are forgiven. You have eternal life.

          This triumph and victory that Christ reveals in His Word is for your special comfort as you experience whatever tribulations sorely test your faith and patience. You are the recipients of God’s grace in Jesus. You hold to Christ in repentance and faith, having your garments “washed” and “made white” in Jesus’ blood by means of His Word and Sacrament. And your future holds the promised eternal victory of Jesus. Forgiven and redeemed, covered in His own holiness, you will stand before the throne of God triumphant night and day. You will serve the Lord forevermore in His temple—in the new heaven and new earth where He will dwell with His victorious people. There you will be sheltered by God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—personally, face to face. You will never again be scorched by the fiery trials and troubles of this life.

          With the comfort of the Gospel proclaimed to us, we are able to rejoice and celebrate the victory that Jesus has already won for us! Christ’s blood-bought forgiveness and love, mercy and grace revive us now in the midst of our troubles. His Word of comfort assures us that the troubles we face today are not our end or our future. Our future is with Christ in glory, in victory, under the Father’s divine protection forevermore. Receive this Word of comfort daily and look forward to the triumphant day when all things are new in Christ. Amen.

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