I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

O Come Emmanuel, O Come Thou Dayspring

Midweek Advent Three – Pr. Anderson sermon
Revelation 1:17-18 “O Come Emmanuel, O Come Thou Dayspring”
December 20, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church

In Nomine Iesu
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Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Amen. (Psalm 95:1-7)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)

The sermon text for today is taken from the 1st chapter of St. John’s book of Revelation. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)

In Christ Jesus, who disperses the gloomy clouds of night, and puts death’s dark shadows to flight, dear fellow redeemed:

Being a hunter, I have been out in the woods in all hours of the day. As fun as it is to be in the outdoors, there is one thing that I have to do which I don’t much care for. The two best times for hunting are early in the morning and before the sun sets. To get into the woods before the selected game arrives, you have to go in under darkness. I can say that there is no better joy for me to wake up the woods and put it to sleep at night, but once it is dark, there are unidentifiable noises out there, and that is not my thing. I am not alone, there are lots of people who are afraid of the dark. This is the setting of all the scary stories. You have all of the different sayings such as “nothing good happens after dark”, or “beware of the things that go bump in the night.” Death is also talked about as being dark and there is only one way to escape the darkness. The Dayspring puts death’s dark shadows to flight.

I wonder if it ever crossed John’s mind when it would be his time to be called to his heavenly home. According to legend, John is the only disciple to die a natural death. He witnessed the pillars of the church being arrested and executed by the Romans. His own brother was the first of the disciples who was killed. The gloomy clouds of night were probably starting to set in for him. As John was exiled to the island of Patmos, it is here that he writes the book of Revelation. A book that many think of as ominous, but that is not at all why it was written. From the first chapter, the books tone is set as he is visited by the one who brings all comfort. As John is sitting there, his Savior comes to him in a vision.

Now John “fell at His feet as though dead.” Why would John do that when He was one of Jesus’ apostles? He was the beloved. Is John afraid of Jesus? Like the transfiguration, Jesus has come to John in this vision in His exalted state. This is the Christ who has suffered and died for the sins of the whole world. He rose from the dead triumphantly and reigns in heaven. As John witnesses Jesus in this state, this isn’t John being worried about Jesus’ exalted look. He continues to hear the revelation. Jesus comes to him and puts His hand on him. He tells John not to be afraid. Is there a reason to be afraid of Christ in this state? After our section of text, then Jesus goes on to give a message to the seven churches of Asia Minor. There are some issues in these churches.

When we read about the churches of Asia Minor, we hear what is happening in these churches. There are some positives, but Jesus goes on to tell John that He knows about the negatives. What are some of those negatives? Some of the problems are not being patient enough, forgetting about the love they once shown to others, sexual immorality, searching for false gods, and being lukewarm. When we read and hear these problems, we see sins that still plague us and our churches. Jesus speaks about the devil coming against these churches. The devil is still working against our churches. As
the devil carries out his attacks against us, we see those dark clouds beginning to form. James explains how those clouds form. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). It is our sins that cause us to be at fault with God, to go to war against others, and eventually they will catch up to us in our death. Our sin alienates us and as Jesus spoke to John, He tells John to write to the churches to repent.

The message of repentance continues and it is a message that we need to hear. We have to accept that it is our fault when we mess up. When we see that we have nowhere else to turn, we go to the one place that brings us comfort. Jesus points out that there are sinners in church. After the confession of sins, Jesus comes in and says I forgive you. As those dark clouds gather, Jesus tells John, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Jesus is the Dayspring who lights up the darkness because He is the light of the world. The darkness flees as Jesus holds the keys. He was born, binding all in one heart and mind. He is the focus of life for He is salvation!

As you are saved from a child coming to you in a humble state to live a life for you in your place, it is alright to look for the coming of Emmanuel, it is expected of you. To pray for the Dayspring to come is to pray for the One who makes all things new. Your sins point you to the Law that you can’t keep. The law you want to keep, but in reality, just like the Israelites of the Old Testament, you can’t stare at Moses’ face. Jesus creates a new day and you celebrate this new day every Sunday morning. The new creation is the destruction of the pain of death. The sins committed by those who are in the church are forgiven by the One who bore all of those sins on the cross. This is the work of the King of Peace. When your King comes again, this cruel world will be destroyed and a new heavens and new earth will be created for all who have been called from eternity.

To get to this point of watching with patience and being excited for when Christ comes in all His glory, the same glory that John was able to see, the world has to get past staring at those dark clouds that are gathering. Those clouds gather and the world flees in terror. Death is scary because it is not natural. Man was not created to die. To get past this, the world has to recognize its sins. It is easier to see divisions and to put the blame of them on someone else. What is the cure for these problems? Where should the world turn? Even in this dark world, the light of the Gospel shines out. Christ is “the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.” Jesus is not going anywhere. He is here, brought to you through the Means of Grace. His Word will never be destroyed. It is the light in the darkness. It points out sins and it brings forward forgiveness from the Dayspring who hung on the cross.

O Come Emmanuel, O Come thou Dayspring! We keep watch for when our great King comes. We live in a dark world that has only given us problems. These problems have unfortunately come into existence because of our sinfulness. Our sinfulness causes death. As our sins deserve the eternal flames, God sent the Dayspring to bring light and new creation to the world. He shone in the darkness and He caused the darkness to flee. How can death stay around when its stinger has been taken out? Jesus holds the keys! He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. The world desires to be of one heart and mind and that the sad divisions cease. This is the season where this peace is revealed. The bright Dayspring who brings forgiveness to those who repent. Who shone as the light of the world in His first coming, and will be our light forever when He comes again to take us to our heavenly home. Jesus is the living one, died, and rose from the dead and lives forevermore. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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