I'm a pastor and as a part of my job I prepare and preach a sermon each week. I've only been a pastor since the end of August so I will be the first to admit that I am fairly new at preaching week in and week out. I spend a good portion of my time each week in prayer, study and the writing of my sermon.
This morning I walked over to the church and went through the draft of the sermon I finished yesterday. Then I came home to edit it and make an outline to use on Sunday morning. I was in the midst of this when the phone rang. It was a woman who identified herself as a Jehovah's Witness from the town 27 miles east of ours. She asked if she could read me a Bible verse.
"Sure," I said, reaching for my Bible, which was sitting on my desk and open to the passage I was working on. "Which one?"
"Revelation 21:4" she replied. "Do you have a Bible?"
"In my hand right now" I said. And I began to read the passage aloud. It says:
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."
"Isn't that nice?" she asked.
"Who is 'he'?" I replied. "This verse doesn't mean anything unless we know who 'he' is."
In all honesty I can't accurately recall the conversation past this point. It was fairly brief and included my mentioning that I was the pastor of the local Reformed church; that I was working on my sermon when she called me; that the identity of 'he' as Jesus was, in my opinion, of supreme importance for this verse to make any sense; and at the heart of any sermon I preach are two things: Who Christ is and what he did. This is what Paul meant when he said to the church at Corinth:
"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
I would have liked to talk with her more, because I don't know much about what Jehovah Witnesses believe, but she wanted to move on.
We can read verses like the one my caller had from Revelation and come away thinking that they are 'nice.' Our culture is full of things that sound nice, that claim to be inspirational, but that in the end do little except help us feel better for a brief period of time. They promote a vague spirituality which is often centered in our selves and our feelings.
The Bible offers us something radically different from soft spirituality. It brings us the living, breathing, Lord of Heaven and Earth, who gave his only Son in order to repair the rift that separates each and every sinful human from a holy God. This Son, Christ Jesus, is the 'he' of the verse from Revelation.
He, and He alone, is one who will truly wipe away every tear. He is my Savior. He is my Lord. And I pray that He is your Savior and Lord too.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.