The countdown has begun!  My mother sent the kids an Advent calendar.  Only it’s not your usual Advent calendar; it’s on the computer.  Every morning the boys are there, clicking away to see what’s behind the door for today, counting down the days until Christmas.  It’s just another reminder—along with all the trees people are putting up, along with all the sales at the stores, along with all the parties and festivities going on—that Christmas is coming.  And it’s coming sooner rather than later. 

This Advent season, during our midweek services, we’ll be turning our attention to the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22, to listen to John’s Message of the Coming Savior.  And the first part of that message we consider tonight is found in Revelation 22:12-13.  We hear the word of our Lord: 

Revelation 22:12-13  "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.  13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last."

As we’re preparing to celebrate Christmas, John reminds us that it’s not just Christmas that’s coming soon, but Christ Himself is coming soon too!  He is coming soon—(I) with our heavenly reward, (II) deserving all our glory.    


  1. With our heavenly reward.

Especially for kids, but also for the grown-ups, one thing people look forward to at Christmas is the presents.  But Santa’s got nothing on the present Jesus Christ has when He comes!  Christ Himself says, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me” (v. 12).  The present is His “reward,” a reward that John himself saw a vision of: 

“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life…   And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  There shall be no night there:  They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.  And they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:1-5).

You know what this reward is:  it’s heaven!  And what a wonderful reward it is!  We will get to eat the fruit of the tree of life again!  There will be no more curse: no more death, sickness, pain, sorrow or toil.  We will serve the Lord in holiness, dwelling in His presence, basking in His light, seeing Him face to face, living and reigning with Him forever! 

And that reward is right around the corner!  But who will receive it?  “My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work (v. 12).  Most people hear those words and think Jesus is like Santa Claus, “making a list and checking it twice,” keeping track of “who’s naughty and nice.”  It’s not surprising, especially given what Jesus Himself says later on this chapter.  Jesus says, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life…” (Rev. 22:14).

So, given what Jesus says, where are you supposed to wind up?  Have you truly done what Christ commands?   Have you kept the entire law?  Has God and His will always come first?  Have you always let your fear of the Lord guide your thoughts and your choices?  Yes, you may not be sexually immoral; but what about that other person you’ve been looking at and lusting after, committing adultery with that person in your heart?  You may have never killed anyone; but that doesn’t mean you’ve never wanted to.  You may not love lying—but there are times when you’ve lived the lie, when you’ve told yourself “I’ve got this sin under control.”

By the looks of things maybe that reward—the reward of eternal life—isn’t for you.  Maybe the reward—the wages—you will receive is something else.  Disobedience to God is sin.  And God’s Word tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Ro 6:23).  The truth is that if it’s up to you and I to earn heaven, heaven would be emptier than a shopping mall during a Packer game.  We’re sinners—and though we try our best, we can’t keep God’s commands, not perfectly, not the way He intended them to be kept. 

The truth is heaven’s a gift.  A gift that Jesus came to bring—already with His first coming at Christmas.  He was “born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons…  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, than an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:4-5,7).  We needed Jesus to come—to be born as a human being, to live under the law in perfect obedience as our substitute, to offer up His perfect life as the payment for our sins.  Because Jesus came the first time, at Christmas, we have the reward already.  In Christ’s perfect obedience, God now looks at you as His children, His heirs, who receive the inheritance—the gift, the reward—of life everlasting.  A reward that is yours not by what you do, but by who you are as redeemed children of God in Christ.  The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

As redeemed children of God there is only one thing left.  There’s only one “work” whereby you and I are judged—and it’s not even something we do, but something that is also given to us as a gift by the Holy Spirit.  In John 6, Jesus says this:  “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29).  Everyone who believes in God’s Son Jesus has eternal life (John 3:16).    

He’s coming soon with our heavenly reward.  That’s what we’re celebrating when Christmas comes in a just a few short weeks:  that heavenly reward that He brings with Him as the result of His perfect obedience as the God-man in our place.  And what makes that celebration so sweet is realizing that we will get to take delivery on that reward in all its fullness when Jesus Christ returns—when He raises your body alive from your grave and welcomes you into paradise.  So as we’re counting down the days to Christmas, we’re also counting down the days to Christ’s coming.  And He is coming soon!

And isn’t that the most important thing of all?  Christ is coming soon—and as He comes with our heavenly reward, He’s also     

  1. Deserving all of our glory.  

Astronomers are constantly searching for the center of the universe, the point right in the middle from which everything else originated.  But really, Jesus Christ and His coming to earth with the gift of eternal life—that’s the center of the universe!  Jesus says, “And behold, I am coming quickly…  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (v. 13). 

It’s so easy to forget, that, though, isn’t it?  So many distractions take our eyes off Him, especially at this time of year.  Where and with whom we’re going to spend Christmas; who’s going to feel left out by that choice; how much we’re going to spend on presents and decorations; how much extra time we’re going to put in at the office; the list goes on and on—the devil uses all these things to take our eyes off the most important thing of all.  Satan wants us to think that all these other things are the center of the universe so that when Jesus returns, we won’t be looking for Him—or even ready for Him. 

So Jesus says, “Behold!”  Look!  See!  Pay attention!  Through His Word and Sacraments He snaps our eyes up again, up out of all the distractions of this life and directs us to see the most important thing:  to see Him.  He reminds us that He is coming soon—sooner than we think!  And that when He comes, He is our everything! 

He is the Alpha and the Omega—the first and last letters of the alphabet and everything in between.  Every last letter of Scripture—every last letter of God’s revelation to man—is about Christ.  Even the smallest verses of the Bible, even the places where it’s just a long list of names and numbers, it all points to Him and His saving work.   

He is the First and the Last.  Every last event of human history—it’s all about Jesus.  Everything in the past happened to bring about “the fullness of time”, so that God could send His Son to save us.  Everything has happened since that time so that the good news of Christ’s coming could be heard by all people—from every nation, tribe and language.  And it’s still about Jesus.  As events unfold on the world stage—it’s about getting this world ready for Jesus to come again in glory. 

That’s because Jesus Himself is at the center of it all.  He is the Beginning and the End.  The entire plan to save mankind from sin and death starts and ends with Jesus Christ.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, with all authority in heaven and on earth given to Him.  His birth, His death, His resurrection—and His return:  that’s what it’s all about.  He deserves all our glory, all our attention.   

Some say, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”  Nah.  Jesus is the season.  It’s all about Him.  Give Him the glory and attention He deserves, this Christmas and always—as the One who is coming soon; as the One who brings our heavenly reward; as the One who is our all in all, our everything:  Christ, our Savior.  He is coming soon—and we count the days with joyful anticipation.  Amen.