MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on washing a red sock in a batch of white clothes. What does this have to do with anything, let alone persecution? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for Feast of All Saints. Please read Revelation 7:9-17. For Audio, “read more” below. #GreatChristianPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #Blood #Lamb #Heaven
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/2/2014 .
Please pause this audio and read Revelation 7:9-17.
Once, there was a red cotton sock that had gotten hidden in the front load washer we have just prior to us stuffing the washer with a load of white clothes in bleached detergent water. When we pulled everything out, pink was the new black. It is a curious thing, then, when we read in the Book of Revelation (notice that it is not “Revelations”, there is no “s”) that it says in verse 14, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Blood does not usually make things white, it usually stains things red and they tend to stay red.
Revelation is a book that has done all kinds of crazy things to humanity. Yet, my seminary professor at Duke University so long ago spent a lifetime unraveling the craziness. Do you remember the 144,000 that are supposed to go to heaven? The Jehovah’s Witnesses spent some time figuring out how they were going to deal with that number when their church reached 144,001 members. It is a number that appears just before this passage and it is the number of people who endured the tribulation after Jesus comes again by having a seal on their foreheads to protect them. We are not going to dwell on that here because this passage indicates that IN ADDITION to the 144,000 mentioned; that there is a “great multitude” that John is seeing in this vision of heaven he has been granted by God. In fact, in addition to the 144,000 there are people “from every nation.” So, our first fun fact for the passage today is that Revelation did not limit the number of faithful who get to heave to 144,000. There was also a “great multitude” from every nation mentioned in the same chapter.
This multitude of people washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and they were made white. White is significant, because in Revelation, white is the color of God. Those who are under that altar who are martyrs are robed in white, too. This is significant because the “blood of the Lamb” would be the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross. Jesus, is referred to as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” because Jesus is like the Lamb in Exodus, whose blood was shed and spread on the doorposts and lentils to avoid the angel of death who killed the first born of everything in all of Egypt. It is this death that caused Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go and cross the Red Sea.
The significance is that Jesus is the Lamb because his blood shed on the Cross, is what delivers us from eternal death. When we believe and are baptized, or are baptized and then believe, we are saved. We drink the “blood of the Lamb” of God in communion so that we are connected to the Vine, Jesus, and “remain in him.” To “share in the blood of the Lamb” also means something else: it means to share in the same kind of suffering as Jesus. It means to be persecuted for our faith in him.
I remember a student of mine coming into my office and complaining that he was angry with God because it had been less than a year since he became a Christian and his life was filled with all kinds of disappointments and pain. I patiently listened to him and after he said, “Why would God make me a Christian if he was just going to let the people around me have so much pain?” It was then that the words of an old cagey preacher who was speaking to me so long ago rang in my head and I said them out loud, “Maybe you became a Christian and now have something to offer because God knew your family would need you to be there when these things happened.”
Yes, friends, we are right to understand that with God we will hunger no more, thirst no more. Yes, we will not have the Sun strike us by day, nor any scorching heat. Yes, we will be guided to springs of the water of life and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Yes, yes, yes. But that does not necessarily happen in this life. In fact, most of the time it will NOT happen in this life, it will happen in the next.
Who is listening to this reflection whose life has not known its share of pain and suffering AFTER they became a Christian? Who is listening to this reflection that has not been ridiculed for being a Christian? Who is listening to this reflection has not been questioned because we believe in a god, let alone THE God? Who is listening who has never had to take an unpopular stance among their friends, family or community because of their faith in Jesus Christ?
We have just spent a series of Sundays of Jesus calling out hypocrites, sticking his truthful finger in the eye of all who are putting on a show for power, prestige and all the glitter of the lights and calling it “religion” or “faithfulness”. Jesus has spared no silliness. Jesus has not given refuge to nonsense dressed up as truthfulness. Jesus has turned over tables in the temple, embarrassed the religious leaders in front of very large crowds and he has refused to let ANYONE play the fool in his presence. Frankly, it got him killed. To “wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb” is to be persecuted for our faith because we had the temerity to tell the truth to those who did not want to hear it. Sometimes, that is what we have to do.
I have lost a job or two because I had to tell the truth. Haven’t you had people not want to talk with you because you were now the “religious person”, the “Jesus freak”? Haven’t you had relatives that treat you like you are stupid because you are religious? Now, with the advent of ISIS, and the people who have been killed because they refused to deny Jesus Christ, this idea of people standing in heaven around the Lamb of God dressed in white robes and being comforted by God forever and ever seems so much more real than it did even six months ago. At the very least, it should cause us to ponder if we would do the same-I hope I would, for the love of God, but here I am, a preacher of the Gospel, saying weakly that I can only “hope” I would.
This great multitude is important for many reasons. Yet, one of the reasons is something that we should take into consideration now that we have Christians being murdered by a false interpretation of Islam in places we have never been. It is this: more than our citizenship, more than our language, more than the color of our skin, what binds us more than anything is the blood of Jesus Christ. More than our denomination, our stance on social issues, more than anything, what binds us is that we have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Can we look beyond our smallness and our prejudices and unite here and now? Why wouldn’t we? We are going to unite in heaven anyway. What is the uniting principle? Is it that we agree on every jot and tittle like the Pharisees, Scribes and teachers of the Law? Or is it that we love one another like Christ loved us-that is, to the breaking point?
Radical Christianity is founded on this kind of perseverance that has a reality for our lives based in heaven around the Lamb of God in whose blood we have had our robes washed and they are dazzling white. It is a reality that is in heaven which we live today. It is a reality that is at a cost today, but will be rewarded greatly as we stand in the heavens with the Lamb of God and worship him.
So, are you facing any struggle in your faith? Are you timid to say something that is going to offend? Are you scared that others will not like you because of your faith? Join the club. There are those of us around the world who are enduring the same as you. In fact, there are those who are standing at the throne of the Lamb of God right now in heaven because they believed. They were killed and sacrificed greatly so that you would know that there is a God worth dying for. Many of those died so that you and I could believe. Whose faith is depending upon your belief? Whatever it is that is causing you pain, you are not alone. In the end, it will be worth it. God will wipe every tear from your eye, so endure now for the time is coming when you will know the Lord and you will be set free.
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