Salvation in the Blood. All Saints 2014.
All Saints’ Sunday
St. Peter Lutheran Church
November 2, 2014
“Salvation in the Blood”
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray:
Nothing have I, Christ, to offer,
You alone my highest good.
Nothing have I, Christ, to proffer,
But Your crimson-colored blood.
Your death on the cross has death wholly defeated
And thereby my righteousness fully completed.
Salvation’s white raiments I there did obtain
And in them in glory with You I shall reign. (LSB 536 st. 4)
Hear the text for today’s sermon a second time:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:9-17
The first thing I draw your attention to in this word of God is the cry of this great multitude dressed in white robes and carrying palm branches in their hands, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” This great multitude is the congregation of those who are saved. They are holy. That is what their white garments mean. And if they are holy, then they are saints, because that is what “saint” means—it means a holy one, one who is set apart for God.
But to what does this company of saints attribute their victory over devil, world, and sin, over death and hell itself? They don’t credit their works or their suffering. They say “Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb!” Salvation does not belong to the saints, as though they had done it. It is completely the work and gift of God the Father, who sits on the throne, and God the Son, the Lamb, co-equal with the Father and sharing His throne, and the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and Son together and equal with them in majesty and glory.
Salvation belongs to God and the Lamb. That is the song of the saints in heaven. And to this shout of praise all the angels add their “Amen”!
Salvation is not partly the work of men and their free will. It is all entirely the work of God and the Lamb. And the saints, who are priests who serve God day and night in His temple, bring no other offering than praise and thanksgiving to God who has given this free gift of salvation that is His alone to give.
They wave the palm branches, the symbols of victory, only to their victorious king who has saved them and given them the victory.
Salvation belongs to God and to the Lamb alone. That is the first point. It is all His work.
The second point is: how does this salvation, this victory, come to a sinner and make them a saint? One of the elders preaches this to John and to us. He catechizes. First he asks a question: “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” John says, “Sir, you know.” And the elder in his catechesis answers his own question,”These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.”
What is the salvation of God that makes sinners saints? How does it come?
The salvation is the blood of the Lamb. The saints have washed their robes in the blood of Jesus. And instead of coming out crimson they have come out bright white, without any spot. Clean and pure and holy.
That is what makes a saint—the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, God the Son. His suffering and death alone, His blood, purifies from all sin.
This is why the babies who are brought to baptism come out of the water clean. The blood of the Lamb is poured over them and wipes out the stain of sin.
Sin is a stain so deep that there is no amount of scrubbing and not detergent that can get it out. We cannot scrub ourselves clean by our works and efforts. And there is no cleansing agent that can remove it except for the blood of the Son of God.
This is a strange way to become victorious. Usually in Jesus’ day they called a king “Savior” when he led the people to victory, and that mean that he shed the blood of enemies. His followers would come through the battle stained with blood too, but it would be the blood of the enemies that would cover their clothes and speckle their skin.
But this is a different Savior. He leads us out of captivity to the devil, sin, and death. His victory has been won not by charging into battle on a warhorse and cutting down enemies with a sword. His victory was won by being stripped and beaten with stripes, nailed to a cross as a criminal and hung up to die. His blood flowed freely until the spear pierced His heart and ended the battle—in His victory.
The saints receive His victory by washing their clothes in the blood of their Savior and King.
You were plunged into His blood in your baptism. And you wash your clothes in His blood every time you confess your sins and Jesus breathes forgiveness upon you in the absolution.
You come to the altar and eat His body and drink His blood. And the blood that cleanses your garments and your flesh from all defilement also cleanses your heart and conscience and makes them clean. You have no sin anymore. You are holy.
The third and final point this morning. The first point was that salvation belongs to God and the Lamb. The second; salvation is in the blood of Jesus that has been shed for you. But when does salvation apply to you? Under what circumstances do you have it? It applies to you now, during what the text calls “the great tribulation.”
We can’t see the shining blood of Christ in which our robes have been dipped and been made white. We can’t see the glory of God resting on us like a canopy, sheltering us from the heat of the sun. We also can’t see the Lamb shepherding us from His throne to springs of living water, or the hand of God wiping every tear from our eyes.
What we can see around us and in us is sin, death, corruption. We see the ungodly desires and thoughts of our hearts still raging, overflowing even at times into words and actions. We see the trouble that lies heavy on us. We feel and look like sheep to be slaughtered. We feel the sting of tears in our eyes and do not feel any mighty hand wiping them away.
But the salvation of Jesus which makes us saints does not wait until the last day and the glory of heaven to be applied to us. It applies to us now in the great tribulation. Already, now, your robes are washed in the blood of the lamb.
Already, now, Jesus has shed His blood for you, blotted out the stain of your sin, cleansed your robes, won the victory.
Already He washes your filthy garments of sin with His blood in Holy Baptism.
Already He satisfies the hunger and thirst of your soul by giving you His body to eat—the bread of life—and His blood to drink—true, thirst-quenching, life-restoring drink.
Already now you are a saint through Christ’s victory. And so, although we do not yet see the rest that His saints have, we join in their praises, singing of glory and salvation not only to come, but accomplished by the victory that Jesus the Lamb won for us in His death. We sing, “Glory to God in the Highest,” “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.”
And He who is called the Lamb certainly knows how to shepherd His sheep who share His flesh and blood in meekness to springs of living water where there thirst will be quenched forever, where the glory of the eternal God will stretch over His holy ones like a canopy to shield them from the burning heat, where the Lord God will wipe away every tear from the faces of His saints with His own fatherly hand.
Lord, when Your glory I shall see
And taste Your kingdom’s pleasure
Your blood my royal robe shall be
My joy beyond all measure.
When I appear before Your throne
Your righteousness will be my crown:
In these I need not hide me.
And there in garments richly wrought
As Your own bride shall we be brought
To stand in joy beside You. (LSB 438 st. 4)
The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria