04.16.17 The One Worthy Revelation 5:1-14 Sermon Outline
Each of our lives is like a script, a scroll that we unroll and read. They’re sealed because they are precious. Who is worthy to break the seal, and open the scroll of your life?
- The relevance of Revelation today
- How Jesus, and we, conquer sin and reside with God
- The reason for Easter worship
The book of Revelation is a vision, fantastic and strange. It is a reminder of things promised and things hoped for. Even though the text is nearly 2000 years old and the people and events to which it refers are long gone, it remains today a testimony of faith.
Revelation is a book of encouragement to people whose faith is on the edge. Some of the challenge is physical; they are experiencing persecution. The foundation of it is spiritual; they are marginalized. Their patience with their Christian faith is running out.
For this reason there is a recurring refrain in the book referring to “those who overcome or conquer.” They will, for example, eat from the tree of paradise, not be harmed by a second death, receive the morning star, and share the throne with God.
Revelation gives us a vision of this promise in the figure of the Lamb. Revelation 5 describes a search for one worthy to break seven seals upon and open a scroll. In the despair of finding no one worthy, an elder tells the author not to weep, for Jesus has conquered and is able to open the scroll. This Lamb who was slaughtered has “ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language, every nation and people.”
In the resurrection of Christ, God has conquered sin and death and liberated its captives. Jesus is the one worthy to open the scroll because of the unique way he conquered.
Nations conquer nations, and kingdoms conquer kingdoms, by force and subjugation. We call it “pacifying the enemy” but it is never a stable peace. Jesus accomplishes lasting peace “not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God” in the words of Zechariah 4:6. This is the Spirit of life, the Spirit of resurrection, and the Spirit of reconciliation.
The Apostle Paul understood this unique perspective of conquering. He saw that Jesus was more than a conqueror—he was a reconciler. And Paul says the same thing of us, that “we are more than conquerors through Christ.” (Romans 8:37)
Those whose faith is wavering, who in the book of Revelation are encouraged to “conquer,” will share eternity with Christ because they will have conquered as Jesus did: Not by might or power, but by God’s Spirit. We conquer by reconciliation.
Jesus embodied his teaching on reconciliation: Blessing those who curse us, praying for those who persecute us, and turning the other cheek. He promised that we would find our lives by losing them in faith, love, service, and hope.
Some people worship on Easter because the celebration of resurrection coincides with spring. “Easter” is, in fact, the name of the pagan god of spring. Or they worship on this day because they did so as children, or to be with their family, or because it is socially acceptable. Some worship because they like the music or value a hopeful message.
Others of us celebrate Easter not one Sunday but every Sunday, to worship the God revealed in Christ as the King of kings, Lord of lords, Presider over presidents, and Prince of Peace. We come to worship the Conqueror who is more than a conqueror.
We worship on this day because we see the power of the “Mother of All Bombs,” and the show of power in a parade of missiles. We see the abusive oppression of chemical weapons. We see the exploitation of consumerism, the despoiling of the environment, the dehumanization of the pursuit of pleasure, and the ravaging horror of disease.
We see all this and know it is not God’s will. We know there must be an alternative, an alternate way of looking at things, of living in this world but not of this world. There must be another script, another scroll.
And we find that alternative in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away all these sins of the world. We know he and only he is worthy to break the seals and to open the scroll that determines our lives.
This is why many of us gather in worship this day. We say “No” to other kings and kingdoms, to other lords and other presidents, and “Yes” to Jesus Christ. We say no to violence as a means to peace and yes to the path of Jesus Christ. We say no to success as the means to happiness and yes to the way of Jesus Christ. We say no to ego as the compass of our lives and yes to following Jesus Christ.
Those who are more than conquerors take “comfort” in Christ’s resurrection. This word combines Latin roots and means “with strength.” Our comfort and hope is not that we will live free of suffering—for that is impossible and a false hope. Our comfort and hope is that we can live through suffering “with strength.” We can conquer.
Those who are more than conquerors live now and for eternity. We sing and worship, believe and confess, with the Four Living Creatures and the Twenty-four Elders and the myriads of angels and all of redeemed creation, that the one worthy to break the seal and open the scroll is the one worthy of power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory and blessing.
That one worthy was revealed this day as, “the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. . . And he shall reign forever and ever, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! Hallelujah!”