John 10:27-28
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.
This is a great promise from Jesus that is further fulfilled by the vision John has in the book of Revelation. There is a line that is skipped by our reading from Revelation today, and I think it is because it is similar in intent to what we read last weekend. However, it highlights this verse from the gospel. The crowd that is mentioned that no one could count cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
This section of Revelation is still in the section with the trumpets and the plagues and all that terrible stuff that is a last ditch effort, so to speak, of God trying to bring humanity back to himself. And even through all the doom and gloom, there rings these kinds of declarations of praise of God.
All those standing around the throne of God after hearing this simple declaration by the crowd of heaven cry out as well with a similar set of words as I highlighted last weekend: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” It is this praising of God that is really the highlight of all of the tragedies that seem to be happening in the book of Revelations.
Yes, there are tragedies and warnings. But the purpose of those warnings is to try to get people to return to faith in God. There is a victory that is part of the work of God. Jesus references it in his own way in our Gospel. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.”
St. Paul puts it in another way that is even more triumphant. In the letter to the Romans, he writes: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, when we look at all the nonsense that surrounds our world today, when we see the tragedies of abortion, sexual immorality, warfare, all the destructiveness that our society not only permits but promotes, when we see Christianity being dismissed and Christians being persecuted, we need not fear. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. We have that promise from Jesus himself.
This is not something we have to create. This is not something that is a pious response. This… Is… Our… Reality. This is our gift from God, poured out on his children who are made his children by baptism.
What is that line that some people use when they are challenged? “Bring it!” Bring on whatever you think will destroy us. Try to shut down the Gospel. We are victorious because we stand with the King.
Lord Jesus, we give you praise and thanks for your wonderful victory over death that we celebrate here in this Easter season. Continue to pour out … hope into our hearts. Fill us with the confidence that St. Paul had when he wrote to the Romans. Help us to rejoice… now… In the yet-to-be-realized vindication and salvation of your people.
Hold us close. Never let us be separated from you. But let our hearts, even now, rejoice in the knowledge of your salvation. And, finally, help us to convince others that this same salvation can be theirs. Amen.