Passed Away or Made New? / Revelation 21:1–7 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 15th 2022 / Season Of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 15th 2022: Season of Easter / Revelation 21:1–7 "Passed Away or Made New?”
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be His God and he will be My son.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Saint John writes in the Revelation “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,” and even though the various books of the Bible are recorded hundreds and hundreds of years apart from each other what is contained in the Scriptures provides a consistent picture of the promises of God when it comes to this World, the one in which we live, and the World which is to come. In fact back in the Psalms we hear these words which likewise reflect what we find in our Epistle Reading from the Revelation of Saint John; here the Psalmist in Psalm 102 speaks of God and the nature of the created world:
“Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish, but You will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but You are the same, and Your years have no end.
The children of Your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before You.”
[God] will change [heaven and earth] like a robe, and they will pass away, but [He is] the same, and [His] years have no end … what does Jesus say of Himself “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” The risen and ascended Lord Jesus in this passage is the very one who says “Behold, I Am making all things new.” These are some of the most comforting words in the Bible.
I have commented before and will comment again here today, how this passage doesn’t describe the Christian as ‘passing away,’ it’s the first heaven and the first earth that passes away: It is this World that is passing away not the Christian. Elsewhere Saint John, in the first of his short letters, teaches you saying, “Do not love the World or the things in the World. If anyone loves the World, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the World—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the World. And the World is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” Saint Paul likewise teaches that “the appointed time has grown very short. … For the present form of this World is passing away.” Note how Paul says that “the present form of this World is passing away,” pointing to the future form which is to come; that Jesus promises us today when He says, “Behold, I Am making all things new.” The former things, the things we are confronted with in this life, the things that bring us tears and mourning and crying and pain, even death itself, shall be no more for these former things in the end will have passed away.
I’m not sure just how much time you spend thinking about what the future has in store for the Christian? Do you stop to think what things will be like when they are made new by Christ Jesus, when the effects of the fall into sin and all the thorns and thistles, and sweat of the brow of this present age have passed away in the promised new heaven and new earth that will appear in the twinkling of an eye on The Last Day?
Let me give you three examples of times when the comforting words of Jesus, “Behold, I Am making all things new,” came up as part of my work here among you as your pastor.
The other day I had a boy ask me, “will there be Great White Sharks in heaven?” Now perhaps I should have asked, “do you want there to be Great White Sharks in heaven?,” but I didn’t ask I just immediately said “yes,” and then mentioned how Jesus promises “Behold, I Am making all things new,” I went on to say, that “because Jesus is making them new and death and everything that would hurt you will be gone you will probably be able to swim with them more like people swim with dolphins now.” The little boy asked, “Do you think they would let you go in their mouth?” I answered, “They might even let you brush their teeth!” Now maybe he was afraid of the Great White Sharks or maybe he was simply fascinated by them either way he knew that right now they are dangerous. The dangerous things of this World can cause suffering and as Christians we are called to be patient until they are made new. With this in mind consider these words from Saint Paul, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Now I’m not sure how patient the little boy I spoke with about the Great White Sharks will be as he waits to see what the Great White Shark will be like when it’s freed from “its bondage to corruption,” but God willing he will have a lifetime to grow in that patience as he waits to see The Last Day and the New Heaven and New Earth made new by Christ Jesus, sharks and all.
One day I was by the death bed of a faithful Christian man who had been involved in construction during his working life and as we visited we talked about his time working on major construction projects and job sites and then I asked him what he was looking forward to in the New Heaven and New Earth promised by Jesus? He hadn’t really thought that much about it. I read him the passage where Jesus promises “Behold, I am making all things new,” and I pointed out the part from the Book of Genesis where because of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin God had told Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” and how King Solomon in Ecclesiastes talked about toil, the hard work of your hands, and how fleeting it was and how caught up in human motivations it was, and I asked him what he thought it would be like to work on a building project and have all of these troubles, the struggles of this life passed away? I asked him what he thought it would be like to plan, and prepare, and construct a building project where nothing went wrong and everything stayed on schedule, where there were no wasted materials and no workplace injuries where everything went as planned, maybe even better than planned and everyone was happy with how it turned out?
The thought of this had not occurred to him, but he said “if builders and construction workers knew that eternal life would be like that they would be lining up around the block to get in.”
There was another time when a woman came to speak with me about her father. Now he had died years before and when he died he was a Christian but she, his daughter, was far away from her faith in Christ Jesus at that time and father and daughter were not on good terms when he died. There was some worry that when they found each other in heaven, in the promised happy reunion, that their meeting in the new heaven and new earth wouldn’t go well. She was not in the same place spiritually now as she had been when he died but yet there was some fear of seeing her father again and she didn’t know what to expect. Again I pointed to this passage from today’s Epistle Reading and to Jesus’ words of promise “Behold, I am making all things new,” but these words were not about a lack of work place accidents, broken glass, or bent nails, they were not about brushing the teeth of a Great White Shark and safely swimming with them in the ocean, no these words were about how the word “all” is a big word, how Jesus promises to make new more than the physical material World we see around us, that He will also make new our minds and our soul, our hearts and our emotions, our memories and our thinking. Yes even our relationships will be made new and they will be perfect as our Lord Jesus is perfect.
This is good news for you, if your relationship with a fellow Christian was not great at the time of their death it will be made new by Christ Jesus in the New Heaven and the New Earth, if you feel guilt about your past relationship with a fellow Christian, if you mourn their loss, if you can’t seem to shake loose some bitterness over the past these are the things that will pass away on The Last Day when Jesus makes all things new.
One last thing to consider, Jesus says “Behold, I am making all things new,” that’s a present tense statement, Jesus even now is making things new … also this isn’t a command for us to make all things new. Jesus is the one at work. So we can ask: What things in the Christian life are being made new right now? How are we being made new in Christ Jesus even now? If we are to consider the fallen broken nature of the World as passing away is there anything being made new right now? Saint Paul writes in 1 Corinthians “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
In our Baptism into the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit we are made new, and through our life as Christians we are being reconciled to God over and over and over again continually in our daily return to those waters of Baptism. And what does Paul teach about Baptism in Titus chapter 3? He says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Dear ones in your baptism you are made new, you are made heirs of eternal life, you’re being made new by Jesus, and all of this is pointing continually forward to The Day when the pain and sorrows of this World, as it stands today, will have completely passed away and Jesus in His mercy will fulfil His promise to us all, “Behold, I am making all things new,” Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Psalm 102:25–28
 Hebrews 13:8
 1 John 2:15–17
 1 Corinthians 7:29, 31
 1 Corinthians 15:52
 Romans 8:18–25
 Genesis 3:19
 2 Corinthians 5:17–19
 Titus 3:4–7
Photo Credits: Main Photo sidewalk art of shark from pixabay; graveyard from pexels; light on the water from unsplash; detail of framer from unsplash; detail of shark from pixabay; detail from construction site from unsplash and baptism from schultzphotographic.