Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Sunday Word 1

There is a vision that John of Patmos had of the eternal age to come, where a multitude of people — so great it cannot be counted — with representatives from every nation, tribe, peoples and language group, stand worshiping before the throne of the Lamb of God. And they cry out Good News: "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" When John seeks to know who these people of this multitude are, he is told, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

In the context of John’s time, the "great ordeal" likely referred to the bitter experiences — the bad news — that befell the followers of Jesus at the onset of the Jerusalem war in 66 A.D. But we can read it in our own context and apply it to the bad-news ordeals of our own time. In contrast to the pessimism that first-century ordeal might have engendered, however, this Revelation passage sees the brightness, the good news, beyond it. These people, who have come through that great ordeal faithfully, "will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life .... "  They are the ones who were numbed by the battering of bad news in their day, but in the realm to come, they are "un-numbed." In fact, they have no need for defensive numbing, because "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."