At least, that’s how our culture treats Easter. We celebrate Easter in spring. Late-spring we observe Mother’s Day. Starting today, you have graduation season. In another week, it’s Memorial Day (the unofficial start of summer). Our minds tend to look forward— and with Easter day behind us, our minds can leave Easter’s lasting impact in the past too. Is that acceptable?
We can treat Easter like a one-time event reserved primarily for the spring season. But it is not. Each year we celebrate Easter, it is not as though we are celebrating something new or reenacting the old. What happened long ago still impacts life today. Easter Makes All Things New! The resurrection changes your future from death into life. The resurrection changes your present from fear into certainty.
Remember, [the book of] Revelation reveals two major themes you, the Christian, can expect (1:1). (1) A world hostile to Jesus will live hostile to followers of Jesus, but (2) Jesus wins. That last point is not always so easily seen, is it?
The first truth is. (1) A world hostile to Jesus will live hostile to followers of Jesus. Society stubbornly rejected him, tormented him, killed him(!)— and that timeless attitude will reject what you hold dear. You may feel ashamed or weak because you are the only one in your circle of friends who worship. You might feel stupid for admitting you believe in a God you cannot see. You may feel defeated and outnumbered because more and more drift from what God calls ‘right.’ Those you were confirmed with do not worship anymore, and, well, their life looks pretty good. So, you wonder: ‘Why am I here?’ You may even think (or act as though) God just lacks the power to silence those who hurt you. Revelation makes clear: (1) a world hostile to Jesus will live hostile to you, the follower of Jesus. That is not a pleasant reality by any means. Yet, if all you see is a dark, uncontrollable future, then you are forgetting Easter.
Because Revelation is not simply revealing something you know and experience. It takes the events of Easter and connects it to your present-day life. That is its overarching truth: (2) Jesus wins! On Easter, Jesus regained physical life; he did the one thing no one else in the world has ever done— and it only reinforces the truth that Jesus holds supreme power. In that power, Jesus descended into hell and told Satan: ‘My life has freed sinners from hell’s gloomy dungeon. My life gives believers eternal life— and there is nothing you can do to change that.’ (read 1 Peter 3:18-20; Colossians 2:13-16). When Jesus finished pounding that news to those forever condemned to hell, he then leaves the tomb and shares his victory with you!
He is doing that here [Revelation 21:1-6]. Easter Makes All Things New! The resurrection changes your future from death into life. Because Jesus lives, you know what the future holds. A world hostile to Jesus will live hostile to you, but nothing will lock you out of heaven. You will not die and remain in the ground. You will not die and be forgotten somewhere. You will not die and go to hell. Jesus wraps his arm around you and, with his other hand, pans the future. You see a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. ‘New’ is what he makes. Now, it may mean God will create a new heaven and new earth out of nothing. It could mean the present world will be wiped clean and God will replace the ‘old’ with ‘superior.’ The Bible does not give precise details about this ‘new heaven and new earth.’ What the Bible does make abundantly clear is that God replaces ‘old’ with something superior. Every single matter that causes pain, heartache, and sorrow has its end.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. In order to have a city you need people. God sees ‘people,’ but not any group of ‘people’; he sees ‘holy’ people. People whose sins the Lord no longer counts against him (Psalm 32:2; Romans 4:8). People who have been washed, cleansed, and given citizenship (1 Corinthians 6:11). Simply put, God sees every single believer of all time from every corner of the world gathered together in heaven. God sees you there already.
Sound real? Nope— not if my attention only dwells on what I see on earth. Not if I rely on my emotions. That’s why Jesus has to reveal these things. He points us past what we see to what he has done. He uses two words in verse 2 to stress that point: ‘prepared’ and ‘adorned.’ Literally, those are actions you did not do. You did not prepare heaven; you did not choose to be forgiven. Someone else prepared you; someone else adorned you. That Someone is God. He washed you in baptism. He used water and attached a promise: You who have been baptized have clothed yourself with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Then, he keeps those robes white. In the Lord’s Supper he says, ‘Take and eat, take and drink. Do this, be assured your sins are forgiven (Matthew 26:26-28).
Easter Makes All Things New! The resurrection changes your future from death into life. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying (that’s Jesus’ voice [Revelation 21:6]) “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” That ‘dwelling place’ pictures a tent, or better: a ‘tabernacle.’ The Old Testament tabernacle served as God’s dwelling place among people. God literally lived among the people, in the camp. People even saw it. Here, Jesus says, ‘I will literally live with you forever.’
Easter declares sin forgiven. Without sin, you (and I) have a full, unhindered access to him. This will last forever. Easter Makes All Things New. The resurrection changes your future from death into life. The resurrection changes your present from fear into certainty.
It helps keep this in mind: Jesus is not expressing a wish. He does not share his hopes and dreams. He is not explaining how these things happen. He simply pulls back the curtain and says: ‘Look.’ See the events happening now. The devil cannot push Jesus back into the tomb; death cannot hold him down. Jesus lives—and that shapes our outlook on life now.
Yes, we still live in this world affected by imperfect sin, but we are heirs who already hold our inheritance. You see what is to come. Jesus will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Here is your certain future. Bodies will never age and wear out. Never again will family hurt you; you will never be disappointed by friends. No crying in grief or anxiety. Never again will leaders fail you. Homework will not push you to tears. Frustrations will be gone. No more broken bones, emotional distress, or aches and pains. Since you know what lies ahead, you have answers. You can point at a gravesite and say, “She will rise. He will rise.” Your wife who died with cancer does not have that cancer anymore. Christians fed to lions, insulted for Jesus, attacked for faith no longer cry because the world hates their God. Heaven does not have terrorism, it does not have uncaring teachers, you will not fall down and scrape your knee. All that which causes pain is lifted away. Knowing what lies ahead makes you certain of your present.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Are they? Well, what are the other promises God made? He said to Eve, “Your offspring will crush the serpent’s head” (Genesis 3:15). Isaiah said that Jesus would be punished for our wrongs and heal us with his body (Isaiah 53:5). King David said that Jesus would not remain dead, but would rise to life (Psalm 16:10-11). Did God keep his Word? He sent Jesus at the right time. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the devil on the cross. Then he ascended into heaven. The God who has kept every promise will keep his final promise to bring you home. That removes fear now.
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” ‘Alpha’ is the first letter of the Greek alphabet; ‘Omega’ is the last. Jesus stands at the beginning of time and at its end. He has no age, he does not change. What he said then stands true today and will remain true always. (1) A world hostile to Jesus will live hostile to followers of Jesus, but (2) Jesus wins. The resurrection changes your present from fear into certainty.
Easter might be behind us, but its effects resonate every day. One time, Martin Luther got quite depressed because an event did not turn out the way he wanted. Maybe he hoped the Catholic Church recognized its false teachings. Perhaps a parishioner believed something false. Maybe Luther was sad that God’s clear teaching was not embraced by everyone. We do not know why he was sad. His wife might not have known the reason either. That did not stop her from wearing black funeral robes.
Luther noticed. “What has happened?” he asked.“The dear Lord is dead,” she replied. “What nonsense,” he said. “You know that God lives and cannot die.” “Is that possible?” she asked. “I thought surely He must be dead since you seem so distressed.” Luther smiled and said, “You are right. I should not be so sad, because God – who has been, is, and will be – is always the same, loving God.” (https://www.lhm.org/dailydevotions/default.asp?date=20040416).
We can treat Easter like a one-time event reserved primarily for the spring season, but it is not. What happened long ago still impacts life today— and every day. Jesus lives! The resurrection changes your future from death into life. Jesus lives! The resurrection changes your present from fear into certainty. Keep looking at the empty tomb—be it spring or summer or fall. Keep looking and see Jesus wins! Easter Makes All Things New!