The Bible is not a novel or a mystery story that is ruined by reading the ending first. Nearly everyone now knows the story of Jesus before they read the Bible, but even the earliest Christians proclaimed “Jesus is risen” before they passed out a Bible. Even if someone does happen upon a Bible with no prior knowledge, Matthew’s ending gives away the surprise at the end of Mark. Knowing the ending is the reason we return to the Bible every day.
Today’s reading from the very end of the Bible is foundational for our understanding of everything that comes before. We know the new heaven and new earth are coming, and the chaos and turmoil of the sea will go away. We live today with the unjust systems and human betrayal described in the Gospel of John, but the ending we see in Revelation undergirds Jesus’ new commandment to love everyone (see John 13:34). When the Gentiles begin to accept the word of God (see Acts 11:1), we know because of Revelation that this is an early, small sign of the coming new earth.
God knows that our ways of seeing, seeking, and praising the Almighty are limited. Therefore, God patiently reaches out over and over again with the good news, telling the story forward and backward. Using all that we have received to praise God and share God’s love fulfills not only the command to love others but also brings about glimpses of the new heaven and new earth.
Maker and re-maker of our world, help us embrace the opportunities you give us each day to bring about the new heaven and earth with our love. Amen.
Change can be difficult. It is easy to get comfortable with what is familiar. In Acts, some in Jerusalem criticize Peter for having fellowship with the Gentiles. Peter explains that his actions are not his own idea but are inspired by a vision from God. This change leads to the spread of the gospel. Revelation speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. God cares for the earth that God created, but at the end of time everything will be changed and made better. In John, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment, namely that they should love one another as he has loved them. This is how others will know that they are truly Jesus’ disciples. Psalm 148 is not about change but is pure praise for the works of the Lord.
Read Acts 11:1-18. God calls Peter to initiate change. How do you respond to changes in your church’s culture? How do you discern what changes are from God?
Read Psalm 148. The next time you sing, focus on praising God and sharing God’s love through your words and melody.
Read Revelation 21:1-6. How do you live a full life while waiting for the new heaven and new earth?
Read John 13:31-35. In the wake of betrayal, Jesus calls his followers to sacrificial love. When have you needed to heed the call to this type of love?
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