First Lesson: Acts 9:1-19a:
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Psalm 67 on Page 91 in Christian Worship
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us;
may your ways be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth.
Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Gospel Lesson: John 21:1-14:
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Sermon Text: Revelation 5:11-14:
11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousand times ten thousand and thousands upon thousands. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
14The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Introduction: In the latter part of 1994, I saw a notice in the Wausau Daily Herald that announced that there was going to be a presentation of Handel’s Messiah by a community chorus and that they were holding open auditions. Along with a couple of other members of my congregation, I tried out for it. The only reason that I got in, I found out later, is that they were accepting ANYONE who tried out because the conductor was convinced that he could get a good sound out of untrained voices. It was one of the most valuable things that I ever did. It taught me a lot about singing and helped with chanting in worship (which was new to me) and it introduced me to the totality of The Messiah. I mean, I knew a couple of snippets pretty well (like “The Hallelujah Chorus”), but I wasn’t familiar with most of it. I absolutely fell in love with the last chorus which Handel took from this song from Revelation 5. It is music that is inspired and makes me wonder what the actual song sounded like. It must have been…
The Sweetest Music We Will Ever Hear
I. The song of the triumph of the lamb
II. The song of the redeemed
- The song of the triumph of the lamb
- This is the first symbolic vision of the book of Revelation after the seven letters
- John saw a scene in heaven where a lamb was seated on a throne, slain but alive
- Surrounding him were four living creatures which represented all life on earth
- Also surrounding him were 24 elders on thrones representing O.T. & N.T. saints
- Into this scene comes a scroll telling what is going to happen sealed with 7 seals
- John, watching this scene, is disturbed that no one is present to open the seals
- Christians of his day were living in very perilous times & wanted to know the future
- Then the 24 elders proclaimed that the Lamb was worthy and able to open the seals
- This leads to all of the angels of heaven (10,000 X 10,000 & thousands) praising
- They say that he is worthy to receive a seven-fold grant by God the Father in heaven
- He receives power and strength: showing omnipotent power to create & preserve
- He receives wisdom: showing that he is the omniscient one who knows all things
- He receives wealth because he is the creator of all things in heaven and on earth
- He receives honor and glory because this is what he deserves as the redeemer
- He also receives praise (blessing) which is something granted only to God in prayer
- He receives this because of his past, present, and future accomplishments as God
- Since it is pointed out that he is slain & is alive forever, he is praised for redemption
- But he is also praised because he is the one who created all things (4 creatures)
- He is also praised for being seated on the throne and ruling all things for the church
- And he is praised for being able to see and control all that will happen in the future
- This was a comforting message to believers in his day and in our day as well
- The song of the redeemed
- The elders began the cycle of songs, and they are the ones who end the cycle
- Theirs song was all about the redemption that Jesus had won for the church
- They praised him for being slain and buying people from every group on earth
- They also praised him for making them priests in his kingdom to show their thanks
- Now, when all the heavenly hosts have sung their praises of his great worth…
- Now that all things in heaven and earth have praised him for his mighty power…
- Now that the four living creatures have added their “Amen” to this great song…
- All that is left for them to do is to bow down before him in great awe of his works
- This is what we praise the risen Lamb of God for in our day and age.
- We thank him for all that he has done for us in the past by paying for our sins
- We thank him for directing all things to lead us through this life to heaven
- We look forward to showing him our thanks for his goodness for all eternity
- We will all join in singing the sweetest song ever heard. Amen.