Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day: A Devotional Commentary

Revelation 7:9-17 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. They cried with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels were standing around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before his throne, and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might, be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” One of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and from where did they come?” I told him, “My lord, you know.” He said to me, “These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. Therefore they are before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them. They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shepherds them, and leads them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Matthew 5:1-12 Seeing the multitudes, he went up onto the mountain. When he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He opened his mouth and taught them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints and remember all who have died in the faith, especially those who have died in the last year. The requirements for sainthood are found in the Gospel reading. Do you measure up? Have you stopped get angry with your brother? Have you completely stopped thinking evil thoughts? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Have you ceased to sin completely? Are you always merciful? Do you rejoice when people say bad things about you? Was Mother Theresa pure in heart? Are you pure in heart? Was Mother Theresa pure in heart? Absolutely not! Were any of the saints? No. They were all sinners, just like you are a sinner. But they received their righteousness from Jesus, just as you receive your righteousness from Christ. Jesus has kept the Law in the sermon on the mount for you so that you may receive the promises of the Gospel. So rejoice and be exceedingly glad!

The saints in heaven gather around the Lamb and worship Him. Some of the saints are martyrs who have been killed for their confession of the Lamb. They have been taken out of this great tribulation and by being murdered they have been given life. Through their witness and faithful death they bring others to the Lamb's feast. When we meet for worship we join in worship with the saints and the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. We partake of the body and blood of the Lamb. We have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. We have no promise that the saints hear our prayers but we know that they pray for us. We feast on the Lamb's body and blood and look forward to the great wedding feast when the Lamb comes for His bride and we enjoy constant communion with all the saints including our loved ones who have died in Christ. And most importantly, we will be in constant communion with the Lamb and sorrow will be no more.

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