When do you think about eternity? About your own mortality? I think about eternity whenever I turn my car ignition key. I think about eternity whenever the cabin crew ask me to fasten my seat belt. I think about eternity whenever I stand before a coffin at the crematorium, or before an open grave. I think about eternity whenever I look in the mirror and see the lines and the grey hairs. Watching the tragic events unfold in Mumbai this week again brought home this reality. God has put eternity on our hearts, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. Its tempting to ignore the news, avoid looking in the mirror, live busy lives in our own little bubble and believe that it would never happen to us, that this life is all there is, that this life is the only one that matters, that this life will go on forever. Only it isn’t and it won’t, will it? It’s a lie and we need to call it that.
Eternity became very real to me when my father died suddenly and I became the oldest male member of our family at the age of 28. It came mid way through my theological training. God in his wisdom, dealt with the one thing I was most worried about in becoming a vicar – coping with death and supporting others in their grief. I could now empathize. It is never too early to prepare for eternity. That is what Jesus has been teaching us in this series. We have been examining his great “I am” statements.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). “I am who I am” (John 8:58). “I am the gate for the sheep.” (John 10:7). “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14). “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die.“ (John 11:25) “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). “I am the true vine.. I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:1, 5). Today is Advent Sunday, when we think about the return of Jesus. It is therefore appropriate that we come to the final “I am” in the Bible in Revelation 22. Please open your Bibles and turn to it with me: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the last, the Beginning and the End… Yes, I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:13,20)
Let us consider this final great “I am” statement made in the closing sentences of the last chapter of the last book of the Bible. As we stand on the edge of eternity, thinking about the return of Jesus, three questions:
1. Who is this Jesus?
2. What will Jesus do when he returns?
3. How then should we respond?
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