This past Sunday, the Second Lesson in the Three-Year Lectionary, in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was Revelation 21: 1—7. This is a glorious passage of hope in Christ Jesus, the risen and ascended Lord and the, “… new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” It is not about earth ascending to heaven, just as the Word became flesh, the new creation. The hope is clear in Christ, the Lamb of 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.”
The nourishing of our hope in Christ is crystalline:
“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 spring of water is Baptism. It is His Word. As it is written in John’s Gospel as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well,
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The “water of life without payment” sustains us in our struggle in this world, “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” And that is the last verse appointed to be read.
The next verse was not included which is obviously integral to John in the paragraph:
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
I do not know why the framers of the Three-Year Lectionary did not include verse 8. When I was in The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I always thought that that liberal denomination did not want to hear it, so I was a little bit surprised it was not included for this past Sunday in our more confessional Lutheran church body.
One thing that can be said about verse 8’s omission: no, it does not fit in. It does not fit it with the sin denying culture we live in and move and don’t have our being. The people listed have been given over to the lusts of their unrepentant hearts. They did not want God’s forgiveness and so their sins were retained (St. John 20: 22-23). Like Judas, they turned their backs on the Lord. Those listed do not fit into the new Jerusalem as they are just too big for it in their overweening pride. The second death is spiritual death, eternal death. They did not want the fire of God’s love in Christ and the Holy Ghost, as they wanted the fire of their sin. The Lord did not choose that for them, nor for us, but He chose for us in Christ eternal life. His eternal decision in Christ is eternal life.
By the way, I read the entire paragraph this past Sunday. I need to hear it as a warning and others need to hear it as warning as well, “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (St. Matthew 6)