(1,5) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more … And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Most of us like new things. That’s why the season of Easter (especially Easter Sunday) is so popular. It means “new”! Even if the winter’s been rough, it marks the end of cold and snow and the beginning of the spring. New grass, new flowers, new birds, a new garden … new beginnings all around us! Yes, who doesn’t like new things, especially if that new thing is us!
We all like to think that on any given day – say a day like today – we can simply wake up and begin to remake ourselves into that something we’ve always wanted to be. While we may not be bold enough to admit it to anyone else, for the most part, we all like to think that our indomitable spirits and wonderfully creative minds could solve anything given enough time, willpower, and determination! We are in a constant search for that which is new, that which will solve our problems and give us joy and peace and life! We like “new,” and we think that one day it can be within us!
But the “new things” that we tend to make or create either by ourselves or within ourselves, have an unfortunate tendency to grow old quickly. New governments full of promise and change turn into the same old governments that fail us once again. New clothes wear out, lose their colour, or we get bored with them. Spring turns to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter. New resolve and commitment turn into yesterday’s good intentions and forgotten promises. All around us we are faced with the unchanging reality that there is nothing new under the sun!
All that promises to answer our problems and give us lasting joy finally brings only frustration and disappointment. We simply cannot live up to it, despite our deepest desire for change. So where does it all lead? To sad aging people who are faced with crying, mourning, pain, and a death that will not be denied. Our creativity and new thinking are at best temporary, and at worst can only remind us of our mortality as they are stripped away one by one!
And yet even this sad old story each of us knows so well can be changed – has been made new! (3-4) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us! Jesus didn’t remove these things, but He made them His own. He makes our tears His tears, our crying His crying, our mourning His mourning, our pain His pain, and our death His death. Crushed and killed by the very things that crush us, He redeems us and restores us. Death becomes the portal to life, and new things are simply redeemed and restored old things.
“Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them” In the midst of our day to day reality, God tabernacles, dwells with us, in Jesus! He comes to us in his Word of forgiveness and life! He is here in the water of Baptism. He has always been. He is here in the Lord’s Supper feeding and sustaining us with His body and His blood. He always will be. He is with us in the promises of His Word: “I am making all things new!” In His Sacraments and in His Word God daily confirms His total and unwaivering commitment to each and every one of you. A commitment to stand by you and use all the old stuff of suffering and death that are so much a part of our lives in making us new!
How? Everything is made new in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus! We can rejoice because He creates a new heart within us. A heart that has been given repentance from God to seek His forgiveness even when it has turned back to its old ways and old ideas once again. A heart full of joy in the salvation that He alone gives! We celebrate because He renews a right spirit within us and gives us a heart that can commit itself to Him in turn. We celebrate because in Christ who died and rose again, we have the promise of that time when all things are consummated and we see with our eyes the new Jerusalem and the wondrous paradise awaiting us upon His return.
“I am making everything new!” Let these Words breathe new life into us. Write them down for they are trustworthy and true! By God’s grace we have become something new. We can begin again each day to turn from looking inside ourselves. We can leave those old notions behind. Gone is the idea that we can somehow do something that will last forever – or that we even need to. That’s been done already in Jesus! He makes all things new!
And even though it may seem to come in the same old insignificant wrappings, His mercies truly are new every morning! As you receive His Word and blessing through your ears and in your mouths, you are being renewed, restored, redeemed – not just for a few years, but for all eternity. You are being made new in Christ. Believe it, Live it, Rejoice in it, and you will never be the same again. (6)And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.