Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Christ, I cannot wait until I see that headline. I cannot wait until see that headline, “THERE IS A CURE!” Well, I think — and I hope — you know what I’m going to say next. We are here today on this Easter Sunday to celebrate with each other from the words of Revelation 19 that our wait is over, and that there is cure – a cure for the greatest virus known to humankind. For he is risen. Indeed! Alleluia!
The cure we are talking about today was accomplished by quite a Conqueror. If someone comes up with a cure for the coronavirus, he or she will be honored for a conquering accomplishment for which we will join in praising God. Today we join in praising God that we don’t have to wonder if the kind of conqueror exists who can rid our world of the virus that lies at the heart of all viruses and problems and fears and tears. We join in praising God that he has provided the kind of conqueror who can rid our hearts of sin and sadness and sorrow and instead filled them with happiness and peace in all circumstances. Our Conqueror is the one the apostle John saw in his vision of the end of the world riding on a white horse. On Palm Sunday we saw him on a humble donkey; now we see him after he accomplished his victory riding on a mighty steed – the rider who is here given the names Faithful and True — a rider whose eyes, John says, are like blazing fire, and on whose head are many crowns, a rider accompanied by the armies of heaven which are following him on more white horses – with all those armies of heaven all dressed up in perfectly pure, clean and white linen.
All these images are fantastic pictures of what will happen on the Last Day of heaven and earth. On that last day what does the Bible tell us is going to happen? We can just say it in simple words, right, even if we don’t understand all those pictures? Jesus is going to come with all his holy angels on the clouds of the sky and welcome to an eternal home in heaven all those people who during their lives believed that they were covered by the perfectly pure, clean, white linen of the holiness of Jesus Christ, their Savior. Those are the crowns – the victories — of our conquering King. You and I are the crowns – the victories — of our conquering King. You and I are the reasons why the conquering King came to what seemed to be a conquered earth to let people know that no matter how it seemed to them during the days of their lives, they had a God who loved them – a God who loved them so much that he was going to send his only Son to pay for the sins of every person of the world – those sins which are the very reason why so often during the days of our lives things sometimes seem so confusing or concerning or catastrophic or downright rotten.
But the One whose name is the Word of God, as John here states, is also for good reason called Faithful and True. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Word. In other words, he is the One who makes God known to us. He came to earth to speak for God as God. Everything he says, therefore, is faithful and true to God because it is from God. When he warns us about the wages of sin – the heartaches that everything we do wrong causes for us now and the judgment of damnation those sins would earn for us later on if not repented of – he is speaking the faithful truth, and we need to pay attention to every single word that he says. And when he comforts us with news about the gift of God – the gift that God has given to us without us doing a single thing to pay for the gift or to deserve the gift or to even know that such a gift could ever even possibly exist – he is speaking the faithful truth, and we so dearly want to pay attention to every single word he says – and hang on to those words day by day, because those are the words that prove there is a cure. There is a cure that has been accomplished by quite a Conqueror, to say the least, because the conqueror of the virus of sin is the Son of the Almighty God – and he truly is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Yes, there is a cure. And that cure accomplished by quite a Conqueror was accomplished through quite a contest. That’s also part of what John sees in this great vision of the end of the world. In his vision the apostle John saw how the King of kings accomplished his conquest in a struggle that led to the shedding of blood. This is what John says he saw, “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood… (and then further on) Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike the nations… (and then further on) He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.”
The old Battle Hymn of the Republic caught what was being described here in its opening verse, when it sang out, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on. Glory, Glory Hallelujah!” Jesus Christ our Lord did shed his blood to be our conqueror, but what these words in the Revelation of Jesus Christ our Lord are picturing is something else. They are picturing what Jesus accomplished by shedding his blood. These words are picturing our Savior marching through the blood of the enemies he crushed. This picture of Jesus is at the same time both horrific to behold and wonderful to see again and again. Sin is so bad that it had to be crushed by the feet of Jesus stepping on Satan the snake in the winepress of the Almighty God’s fury and wrath. But sin is so powerless when confronted by the seemingly powerless man on the cross that its own shed blood can only dirty the bottom of the robe of the Son of God, with those stains of blood being signs of Christ’s victory. It was an awesome contest, but it was in no way a fair fight, because it was the Son of God who went forth to war, and the Son of God cannot lose even a minor skirmish, let alone a war for our souls.
Many things right now are battling inside our souls to make us try to wonder if maybe Jesus is losing a few battles. After all, the circumstances of life aren’t even allowing us to be together today to celebrate the day Jesus rose from the dead so that there could be someone in the future whom John’s vision could see. But think about that for a moment! John’s vision of Jesus would be totally worthless if John’s vision was of a still-dead Savior and a tried-hard-but-couldn’t-quite-do-it Lord. You and I are not the first people who have been led to wonder in our hearts, “Lord, when you will make things good again?” After all, do you remember where John himself was at at this time? John had been imprisoned. He was in exile. He had been sent away to an island where he was spiritually quarantined – spiritually quarantined and therefore unable to see in person the very people with whom he was sharing this vision which God himself had given him. But he had something even better than online technology. He had direct communication with God in heaven – direct communication which assured him nothing at all had changed, even though the circumstances of his life had totally changed – on that island, separated from the people he loved – direct communication which said the risen Christ, whom John himself had personally seen risen from the dead some fifty or sixty years earlier, was the same risen Christ he would someday see perhaps very soon – the risen Christ whom God the Father let him see in this very special way in the Revelation of Jesus Christ – a part of which has been shared by John with you and me today.
But the miraculous revelation of the miraculous resurrection of the King of kings and Lord of lords causes miraculous cures every day by the power of his Word, even if they are only seen online. Several weeks ago I was able to be part of one of those miracles by being a witness to someone rising from the dead online. I was a witness of an online resurrection from spiritual death by seeing the baptism of our granddaughter in the presence of fewer than ten people, who were joined online by a large number of fellow believers from all over the United States – an online resurrection through the washing of Holy Baptism, which the apostle John’s dear friend, the apostle Peter, once described in this way: “Baptism now saves you also… It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” – just as described by John in the Revelation of his Lord.
Baptized children of God, you did not witness the online resurrection of that eleven day old girl in the living room of her parent’s house, but today you are online witnesses of the Resurrection that made that resurrection – and all your resurrections — possible – the Resurrection that has made possible the equally miraculous resurrection on the last day of the world, as well. It took quite a contest by quite a conqueror, but that conqueror wants you and me to know this day and always: No matter how long the struggles continue with this or anything else in your life, there is a cure. It can’t be any other way when the person telling you that once was dead for the sake of you and me, but now is alive to watch over you and me – the King of kings and Lord of lords… And there’s no doubt about it: He shall reign forever and ever! For he is risen! Indeed! Alleluia! Amen.