"No More Tears"
Rev. James A. Splitt
Sermon May 3, 1998 - 4th Easter Sunday
John 10:22-30   Revelation 7:9-12

Today is not the fourth of July, Independence Day.  But the text is the 4th of July text of God's Kingdom.  It declares the sacred freedom we have received through the salvation of God.  We celebrate our Freedom in this
country with fireworks.  We celebrate victory with fireworks.  When we have a fireworks display, there are crowds of people who come to watch and cheer, waiting for the grand finale when the sky is filled with the most magnificent display of all.  I remember being in New York City for the 4th of July festivities in 1976.  I was in Battery Park, Jason was on my shoulders and we were in a crowd of people that numbered in the millions.  We were swallowed up in a crowd of people celebrating 200 years of freedom in our country.  Never has there been such a crowd.

These are great words:  Blessing, and glory! Wisdom and thanksgiving! 
Honor and power and might be to our God forever, and ever, AMEN!  The words of our text in Revelation echo the same chorus of voices that is found in Revelation 5:11-14.  This is the text for the grand finale of Handel's Messiah.   It is the fourth of July text of Christian freedom and it is the grand finale of all praise and glory and honor that we can give to God.  While we might wonder and be overwhelmed by the book of Revelation with all its mysteries and symbolism, this text has a clarity that cannot be mistaken.  John has a vision of multitudes of people praising God.  It is the resounding recognition of the people of God who have faced all the hardships of life, all the temptations of Satan, all the pain of human misery and suffering, and the struggles of a life time  . . . that there is hope in our God of salvation.

God is the victor . . . the savior, who has come to the throne of power and
glory, of wisdom, and thanksgiving to receive the praise of those who have
seen and believed. A throng of all people, of all languages, of all nationalities . . . who come before God's throne to join in a combined chorus of exhalation and praise.

The joy of this moment of hope is declared in this vision of God, by the words, "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."   (vs. 17).

The gospel text, carries a similar message of hope.  A group of Jews is
gathered around Jesus when he responds to their question, "Are you really
the Christ?"   A real clear "YES!" would have been a direct answer to this
question, but in the style of Jesus he responds with an illustration. 

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give
them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one is able to snatch
them out of the Father's hand.  I and the Father are one."  (vs. 27-30).

Christ means the anointed one!  Christ is the Greek word for Messiah. 
Literally, the Jews are asking Jesus if he is the One who is to sit on the
throne.  Messiah is the one anointed to bring on the rule of the Kingdom of
God and become the Savior of the Jewish people.

What we learn from the answer given by Jesus to the Jews is that he is the
Messiah, he is the anointed one, yet he is more that what the Jews could
ever imagine.  In John we have the image the Jesus is the Christ, the
Messiah, of anyone who hears and responds to him.  Into His hands he takes
and holds anyone who responds to his voice. And his voice is the voice of
God, because Jesus and God are One.  In John's revelation we have people of all races and all nationalities coming before the throne where God and the
embodiment of Christ as the Lamb are one.  The message of hope is that we
have been saved by the One who is one with the Father.  Jesus is the Christ.  
And Jesus is the lamb who is also the Great Shepherd.  The imagery is
powerful.  The purpose of these two texts is to 1) witness to the oneness of
Jesus the Christ with God and 2) celebrate the oneness we experience with
God in the victory of life over death   Jesus has won for us Salvation with

I have titled the Sermon, NO MORE TEARS.  The focus is on hope.  God's
victory is our hope.  Jesus who is the Christ is our hope.  Jesus is our shepherd, who is also the lamb, who keeps us sustained  in the ordeals of life. 

Everyone knows what it is like to shed tears of pain, of loss, of  suffering, of shame.  We have had tears of grief, tears when we have felt rejected.  Tears when we have been abused.  We have cried openly with tears of anguish, sobbing, visible to others that we were deeply in distress.  And we have cried silently, when we do not to want to or know how to show others what burdens us in the most personal ways.  We can even deny our hurt and pain believing that everything is all right, when in fact, life has dealt us a blow we cannot accept. 

What a message of hope to hear: God will wipe away all of our tears.  Every
last one of our tears will be wiped away by a God of power and might, wisdom and thanksgiving.  Held in the hand of the Savior while God our father wipes the tears from our eyes.  Hope is knowing that the lamb who walks beside us is also the Shepherd, the great and might shepherd who has won us and will not let us be snatched away.

In Revelation it says that God does this to those who have been through the
great ordeal.  Getting through life is the greatest ordeal we face.  There
are many wonderful moments in life.  But for each one of us, there are
challenges of life that continue to test us.  How will we hear the voice of
Jesus when we are in need?  How will we listen to Jesus when we are in
deepest pain?  What would Jesus want us to do when Satan tempts us to sin?  How can we follow Jesus, the Christ, through the ordeals of our life?

God's word in these two text offers a message of hope!  Take your hands
right now and put them together like you might hold something very precious. 
You have heard the Allstate Insurance commercial ..."You're in good hands
..... "  Hold your hands like you are ready to hold something precious in
your hands, like your hands are forming a cup.  Into this cup, you will put
a blessing that will sustain you for life.  In order to fill each and everyone's cup with God's blessings of hope, let us pray and allow Jesus to fill our cup for us. 

Pray these words quietly to yourself and experience God's grace.  "Jesus, I
open my life to you.  Jesus I receive you as my Savior.  I want to follow you.  Amen."