The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

All Saints Day November 4, 2012

 

Revelation 7:9-17 No More Tears

 

Dear fellow redeemed,

 

Johnson & Johnson wants bath time to be a pleasant experience.

So they designed "No More Tears" for young children and babies.

* I guess buying this shampoo is the mother's way of saying, "don't cry."

"I'll take care of you. You don't have to be sad."

* But how realistic is this? Won't they see the water and make the same connection they

made before. "Bath time means soap in the eyes."

* "At the very least, dragging me to this tub means I'm done playing.

It means I'm going to have to go to bed soon. No More Tears?!"

 

Sometimes we may question how realistic God is trying to comfort the believer.

* We're told he'll "wipe away every tear" from our eyes.

There will be no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat.

In heaven everything will be perfect. Weeping and crying will be a thing of the past.

* Really? "Well, I appreciate what you promise me, God.

"But is that supposed to help me quit my crying at this time?"

"Somehow I'm not feeling especially comforted by it.

Look at what's going on with my health, my family, my business, my country."

 

Do you feel you have good reason for crying today?

To be perfectly honest, crying is a part of our lives. Everyone cries at some point.

* Unless you're extremely strong emotionally or maybe detached from others, sooner or

later you find a reason for shedding a tear or two.

* Some may explain it saying certain hormones are affected by certain nerves stimulated by

the brain. This is brought on by undue sadness, pain or fear.

* Or we might explain it on the basis of Scripture.

"There is a time to weep . . . a time to mourn" Solomon writes.

* That is to say, because "the wages of sin is death," weeping and mourning are inevitable

for every single one of us.

* So why would God try to console us talking about a time when there will be NO More

Tears? Again, is he suggesting we can stop our crying right now?

 

Meanwhile, some will point out that it's a good thing to cry.

* For one thing, it offers relief. When a love one dies it's unhealthy to keep your grief

* bottled up. Psychologically you need to release what's inside.

* That's what my family and I did seventeen years ago today when our father, and mom's

husband, Dr. Robert Preus, died of heart failure.

* Crying also shows we're human. We're vulnerable just like everyone else.

* Some would like to think that crying is unmanly. But if your wife is like mine, she loves

to discover your feminine side when you're watching some gushy movie on t.v.

* Just when you're sure if your eyes tear up any further it's over, sure enough that's when

she grabs a glance from you, spotting that single tear rolling down the cheek.

* What's more, crying can be a means of showing empathy and support. In some cultures,

weeping out loud at a funeral, and quite loudly I might add, is an important tradition.

* Remember when Jairus's daughter died? The people were wailing so loudly that

Jesus had to send them outside before raising the girl from the dead.

It's possible they were hired. Professional wailers were the in-thing.

 

It's not that God would argue against crying. The Lord encourages a good cry.

Crying can be quite therapeutic.

* But that's not the only reason we cry. God has more in mind than crying over life's

situation. We cry on account of life's sins. Crying demonstrates that we are contrite.

We're sorry for transgressing God's Law.

* Joel writes: "Yet even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with

fasting, with weeping, and with mourning."

* It's good to cry.

Like everyone else on earth, we do not meet God's requirement for perfection.

Because of our sin, in fact, we fall short in fulfilling our obligations to every single

person we serve.

* Everyday we sin against God and against one another. So we cry, we mourn.

 

It may get to the point where it seems like our crying will never end.

* David states in Psalm 6: "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my

bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping."

* And we too are weary. We're weary because it's come to our attention the many sins

we've committed against our loved ones and our our neighbors.

And we wonder, "Why do I keep hurting those who mean so much to me?"

* And we're weary on account of our sinful nature, the wages of sin which eventually cost

us our life. After the latest fall, the latest issues with our heart, the latest surgery, the latest

therapy, the latest bout of cancer, chemo and radiation, we've had it!

* The older we get the less endurance we have, the less strength or incentive to hold on to

life. Each year we get a little weaker until finally one day we concede: "Okay, death.

You win!"

 

For some, it would seem that day comes prematurely.

* If you know someone who's ended their life through suicide, you may remember your

first thoughts upon hearing the news. Why couldn't he hold on just a little longer?

* It's something few may truly understand unless you personally have suffered from major

depression or a depressive illness of some kind.

* As much as you may want to think about a better day, your illness prevents you from

focusing on anything except what's wrong with you and your life.

* Others may be heard asking you, "Why are you feeling so hopeless, so sad?"

"Look at your wonderful life. Aside from what you perceive this day, look at the children

you have, your friends, your spouse, your parents!"

* But if you're suffering from the disease of hopelessness, you have a different perspective.

In your mind, your life or your condition will never get better. Death is imminent.

* Many, in fact, believe they deserve to die. "I've utterly failed those I love. I'm the scum

of the earth and no one should have to put up with the likes of me, not even God!"

* That's how my first wife Jean felt – before she took her life.

As you may imagine, some will ask whether it's even possible for a Christian to think this

way, focusing only on the negative. How could he do this? Why would she do this?

 

The answer is very simple. Sin's effects each of us, our natures, in different ways, and how we're

effected sometimes it's very difficult to predict.

* But, in as much as every one of us has been conceived in sin, there's a better question to

ask than "how?" or "why?" regardless of how a loved one is taken from us.

The question is: "who?"

* Who will deliver me from my sinful nature? Who will restore me to health?

Who will give me hope, in light of my deteriorating condition; my heart disease, my

osteoporosis, my emphysema, my Alzheimer's, my cancer?

Who will rescue and save me?

* "Wretched man that I am!" Paul exclaims. "Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25a).

 

And what a day that will be: to see only what is holy without spot or wrinkle or any such thing!

* Instead of seeing this wicked world where we can't help despising ourselves even more

than our enemies, we'll see a great multitude of saints from every nation, tribe, people

and language.

* "Who are these, clothed in white robes? . . . From where have they come?"

"These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation."

* "Coming out" is a reference to those who are still standing in the end.

They've survived their persecution and their tears.

And the color white represents holiness in the sight of God.

* Keep in mind these robes are not white by nature. They are made white, and the

cleansing agent is Christ's blood; his death which removes every symptom or mark of sin.

"They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb" we're told.

* We're speaking of those who believe in the atoning death of their Savior.

Regardless of the many things sin throws at frail human beings, by faith in Christ,

they survived their tribulation. Instead of looking down, by God's grace they looked

ahead to the day which has now arrived.

 

In addition to mentioning white robes, St. John speaks of palm branches in their hands which

represent the believer's victory over sin, death and the devil.

* Scripture's first image consisting of palm branches depicts a humble King marching into

war and his own death. But here we see a glorified King who permits us a share in his

victory.

* And there's more we can see. Instead of persecutors intent on destroying God, we'll see

angels surrounding every corner of the throne worshiping God.

* Instead of man with his arrogant boasts about saving a corrupt and decaying earth, we'll

see the Lamb in the midst of the throne, our shepherd guiding us to springs of living

water.

* Instead of poverty, disease, starvation and death, we'll see a land where we "shall hunger

no more, neither thirst anymore; (where) the sun shall not strike (us), nor any scorching

heat."

* Instead of having a reason for shedding tears, our God "will wipe away every tear from

(our) eyes."

 

If you think about it, wiping away our own tears is a way of concealing our sorrow.

But wiping away someone else's tears is a way of comforting that person in their sorrow.

* That's God's plan for those who have come out of the great tribulation, except that when

God wipes away our tears it will include the last tear of sorrow ever shed.

* Sometimes we may doubt that. How do I know God's words are any more relevant than

the latest shampoo commercial for kids?

* It's been said that to be human is to err or to sin.

One may deduce from this that in heaven we will continue to get into trouble, unless

we're no longer human in the true sense.

* But that isn't really true. Were Adam and Eve truly human before they fell into sin?

Sure they were.

* It may be more appropriate to say: to be human is to cry.

No. We won't weep because of life's tribulations, or because of death and sorrow.

In heaven there will be No More Tears of this kind.

* But we will weep for joy. Our tears will represent the fact that sin, which is the cause of

every type of grief, is a former reality.

* In the words of John from Revelation twenty-one: "He 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." Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

 

Preached at St. John's, Corcoran, MN