Revelation 22:12–21 (NKJV)
12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Jesus tells us at the beginning and end of today’s reading, “I am coming quickly.” How does the church respond to this promise? “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” The church is Christ’s bride. Christ “loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). Having been washed by water and the Word in Holy Baptism, and clothed with Christ’s perfect righteousness, the church eagerly awaits the return of her Bridegroom.
The Bridegroom also brings His reward to give to everyone according to his work. With these words Christ wants to spur His bride on to good works. The faith that eagerly expects Christ’s return brings forth good fruit and Christ promises to reward that good fruit in the life of the world to come.
To all those who do His commandments He promises “the right to eat of the tree of life,” as well as the right to “enter through the gates into the city”—both of which are pictures of the bliss, joy, and security of everlasting life. St. John summarizes the commandments which we are to do in 1 John 3:23, “This is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”
Outside the gates of the city are the dogs, sorcerers, the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. They have not obeyed the commandment of faith in Christ and love toward neighbor. They chose to remain in their sins because they believed and lived according to the lie the that Christ would not return so they could live according to the desires of their flesh. To the faithful and unfaithful alike Christ says, “I am coming quickly.” For the faithful it is joyful news. For the unfaithful it is a call to repent, believe in the coming One, and bear good fruit.
Let us pray: Give us hearts that eagerly expect your coming, O Lord, increasing faith and good works in us. Amen.