John concludes his book with an epilogue, 22:6-21. It consists of loose sayings, prophecies and observations which sum up the character of the book. There is also a warning not to change or disregard the book and an assurance to the reader of Christ's return. The passage before us covers the central part of the epilogue.
v12. Jesus announces his coming return, a return which he will complete quickly. When he comes in glory he comes to reward us on the basis of what we have done. This reward is either a blessing or a curse, and it depends on whether we have done one particular deed, namely, that we have put our faith in Jesus Christ.
v13 Christ again takes to himself the titles which rightly belong to the Ancient of Days. He is The Lord God Almighty, cf.21:6. We are again shown that Jesus is divine, he is God, the beginning and the end.
v14-15. Blessed are those who "wash" for they will be rewarded by Christ - justified by grace through faith, cf.7:14. The washing image refers to washing in the blood of Christ, being covered by Christ's sacrificial death through repentance and faith. Those who wash have the right to feed on the tree of life, cf.22:2. For the unwashed, cursed are those who reside outside the city for they will be judged.
v16. Jesus speaks again. He announces that the revelation to John through the angel, and thus to "you" (the church), is a direct revelation from himself; it is his word. This revelation comes from the anointed one of God: i] the root of Jesse, of the Davidic line, the Davidic King; ii] the "star" of Jacob, Num.24:17.
v17. Both the Holy Spirit and the "bride" (the church) call on humanity to "come" into God's presence and unite with him for eternity. The call to come and drink of the water of life is obviously the gospel invitation to enter the kingdom of God, ie. believe in Jesus, the source of life.
v18-19. John now gives a warning to those who hear. Don't fiddle with this prophecy on pain of judgment. The warning could be to copyists, but is more likely to those who would teach and apply the truths found in this book.
v20. Jesus again gives witness and affirms that he is coming soon. The response to this truth is "Amen" - we agree and affirm this truth. This response is then followed by a prayer - Maranatha, which is Aramaic for "Come, O Lord", 1Cor.16:22. Our burning desire should be for the coming of Christ and thus, our union with him.
Jesus has ascended to glory, his coming is nigh; "Come, O Lord."
It's very easy to work ourselves into a cycle of guilt. We continually fail our Lord, are always less than faithful, and so when we start to think about the end of the world and the day of judgment we can end up overwhelmed by guilt. In that day Christ will reward the faithful. Yet, how uneasy we feel, for if the day of judgment was today, would he say "well done good and faithful servant"? How secure are we if we had to stand before the judge of the universe this very day?
We may not "practice magic arts" as such, we may not be into palmistry and the like, but it's very easy to be into power games. Magic is the art of manipulation - the manipulation of individuals and of circumstances. We don't need a voodoo doll to destroy our enemies, we just need to know how to play the "game". We might not have committed "sexual immorality", in a literal sense, but we have all flirted with someone's feelings. We may not be "murderers" as such, but we have all hated. All of us have despised, even a brother. We have justified it by working up a good long list of their "sins and offenses", never hesitating for a moment to deny any evidence of the "log" in our own eye. None of us may be "idolaters" as such, but all of us hold tightly to our possessions. How do we answer our Lord in that last day when he asks us why we thought the things of this world were so important? When we see all that we kept to ourselves and the so little we gave to him, how then will we answer? "He who loves and practices falsehood", surely not us Lord? Lie, deceive, hide the real me.... never.
Yet, Jesus says to us "come", whoever is thirsty, whoever wishes. He invites us to wash our robes in his mercy and enter the gates of the Holy City. There is no hesitation in this offer, no qualification. "He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End"; He has the right to make the offer and the power to make it stick.
So yes, we come and in his goodness we hide. As for our goodness, change us Lord Jesus, renew us. Make us loyal and brave rather than cowardly, faithful rather than unfaithful, gentle and kind rather than nasty, loving rather than hateful, honorable in all our relationships, servants rather than manipulators, simple livers rather than complex wasters, honest and open rather than deceptive.
So now you can come Lord Jesus, we are waiting. "Yes, I am coming soon" is his reply.
1. Salvation on the basis of works. What is the point of v12?
2. The invitation to "come". To whom is it addressed? v17
3. If Jesus is coming soon, discuss the implication of this truth for believers today.