He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelations 21:5 (NIV)
Yesterday among our local gathering of Jesus’ followers I witnessed three teenagers and an adult being baptized. These baptisms were by immersion in which the four publically professing their faith stepped into a small pool of water. They were plunged into the water and brought back up out of it. It is a metaphor. The Greek word baptizo means to “plunge forcefully.”
Buried with Christ in the likeness of His death.
Raised with Christ in the likeness of His resurrection.
Sin washed away.
A new creation.
A new start.
A new life.
Life and death. Resurrection. Death-to-Life.
It is the meta-theme of the Great Story. Metaphors are layered with meaning, and God layered this theme in creation itself as every year we experience the death of winter and experience resurrection and new life in the spring. It is revealed in Jesus’ story: born in the darkness of exile, dying as darkness covers the land, and raised to new life at the dawn of a new day, the first day of a new week.
God revealed it to His people at the beginning of the story.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live… Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)
It is revealed spiritually in the life of every one who follow Jesus.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor 5:17 (NASB)
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:3-5 (NIV)
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. 1 John 3:14 (NIV)
The end of the Great Story is a new beginning. John’s vision reveals that earth and heaven as we know them “pass away” and a new heaven and new earth are created. I’m always surprised that I rarely hear these final chapters of the Great Story discussed, even among believers, given that it is an epic grand finale that so perfectly captures the grand theme of the Great Story itself.
Today’s chapter describes the vision revealed to John of an eternal city, a New Jerusalem, in which God and His people dwell. The city described is not novel. In fact, it’s an epic culmination of what God revealed from the beginning. The City is square like the camp prescribed through Moses for the Hebrews as they made their way to the promised land. The City is a giant cube, just like the “Most Holy Place” in the tabernacle and temple. The old “Most Holy Place” was an exclusive place for God’s holy presence, and only the High Priest entering once a year. This new “Most Holy Place” is for God and His people to dwell together. No sun or moon, because the Light of God’s glory illuminates the city in perpetuity. No more darkness, or crying, or pain. The old has passed away, the new has come.
In the quiet this morning, I’m thinking of the baptisms I witnessed yesterday. Parents, family, loved ones gathered as witnesses and even participating in the ritual. An individual’s choice to make public profession of his/her personal faith. An outward sign of an internal spiritual reality. Old things have passed away, new life has begun.
It is the meta-theme of the Great Story.
It is where I’m headed, this wayfaring stranger. Today, each day of this earthly sojourn I’m traveling through this world of woe. One day I will cross over to a place where “everything is made new.”
But there’s no sickness, no toil or danger
In that great City to which I go.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.