Jesus’ Final Words (Revelation 22:12-17, 20)
Jesus is Coming, vv 12-15, 20
To John, Jesus declares, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Jesus is coming soon—as I have articulated before, this must refer to judgment upon Rome.
Jesus is bringing his recompense, to repay each person for what he has done. Those who have worshiped the emperor will be repaid for what they have done. No one can argue that this is anything but fair. The Lord punished these individuals according to their deeds—it’s not, as sometimes occurs under our judicial system, that these individuals were punished for what they did not do. When we stand before God at the final judgment, we shall be judged according to what we have done. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). “If you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Peter 1:17).
Jesus tells John why he can judge: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Only God can judge. Jesus here claims to be God; he claims to be eternal; he claims to be the One who was before and who is after all things. Jesus repeats his pledge to come in judgment in v 20: “Surely I am coming soon.”
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Those who have the right to the tree of life and the city have washed their robes. We have encountered the theme of pure robes before in this book. “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments” (Revelation 3:5). When the martyrs under the altar cried out, “they were each given a white robe” (Revelation 6:11). White garments symbolize purity (see Revelation 3:4). We are told in Revelation how to wash our robes: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).
Those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb will have the right to the tree of life, and they will enter the city by the gates. Those whose robes have been washed in Jesus’ blood will be able to eat from the tree of life—they will be able to live forever. Those whose robes have been washed in Jesus’ blood will be able to enter the city by the gates—they won’t have to try to sneak into the city, but will enter openly.
Outside the city are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. “Dogs” probably refers to unrepentant prostitutes (Deuteronomy 23:17-18). Those who persist in sin will be outside the city; they will not be allowed to enter the city.
Jesus’ Angel Came, v 16
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
Jesus sent his angel to testify to John to testify these things in the churches. What this demonstrates is that Jesus has power over the angels. Jesus refers to this angel of prophecy as “my angel.” The angels do the bidding of Jesus. The angel was sent to testify to these things. We have previously discussed that angels were often agents through which God revealed his will. This angel was sent to John to reveal to him the Will of God.
Jesus enumerates his right to send this angel—he is the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.
- He is the root and the descendant of David. As the Root and Offspring of David, Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 11:1, 10). Because he fulfills the prophetic word, he has the authority to send his angel to John.
- He is the bright morning star. Balaam prophesied that a star would come out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17). Thus, again the idea seems to be that since Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy he has the authority to send this angel.
Jesus Wants You to Come, v 17
“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” The Spirit, of course, is the Holy Spirit, and he calls men and women to come to Jesus. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). How does the Holy Spirit “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment?” Does he not do this through the Word he inspired men to write? As the Gospel is proclaimed, the Spirit calls men and women to Jesus (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Thus, the Spirit says, “Come,” not through some miraculous means, but through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus.
The bride, of course, is the church, “the bride of Christ.” We need to call people to Jesus, and to say, “Come!” You know the Scriptures that teach our need to share our faith. Let us in our lives be calling people to come to Jesus. Let us say, “Come!”
And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come. Those who hear the Gospel often say to their friends and family, “Come!” Many of you were probably baptized when a spouse or other friend or loved one was baptized. Those who thirst can come and what a blessing it is to know that whoever wants to come to Jesus can do so.
Let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Whoever wants can come to Jesus—black, white, Hispanic, Iraqi, Japanese, whoever wants to come. Since whoever desires can come, we cannot think of some people more deserving of the Gospel than others. We dare not think that someone is not welcome here or not worthy of the Gospel because of who he or she is.
We can take the water of life freely. Because God requires obedience from us, I’m afraid that we occasionally forget that salvation is a gift. Salvation is a free gift of God. “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). We “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Salvation is free in that God does not have to give it; he gives it out of his own freewill and grace. Do you have that free gift?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.