Open doors – reflections for this season of Lent, Easter and PentecostCLF
“I am making everything new” Revelation 21:5
In the northern countries like in Europe, Easter coincides with spring, the blossoming of Easter lilies, tulips and daffodils. After the cold winter months, the buds and blossoms of spring announce new life; it promises renewal, abundance, growth. But here in South Africa autumn can be just as beautiful, with crisp blue skies, pure white clouds and warm autumn colours – the ripening of fruits, abundance, life. In some summer rainfall provinces much rain fell during summer; we experience an exceptionally beautiful autumn. And many people observe how, perhaps also because of the Covid-19 lockdown, the less traffic, less noise and business, it is as if nature has had a little rest, some breathing time, a change to be renewed and healed. Everywhere we see more birds, insects and little animals flying and frolicking around.
In Revelation 21:5 Jesus announces: “I am making everything new!” It is an important announcement, commencing with the “I am” formulary, wherein Jesus emphasises his one-ness with the Father. “I am” means: “I am God”, seated on the throne, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the sovereign Lord! It reminds us of the other great Revelation text about resurrection and life: “I am the living one; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys…” (Revelation 1:18)
This sovereign Lord then adds to the “I am” announcement: “I am making everything new!” This is the good news of Easter time, the consequence of Jesus’ resurrection: the resurrected Jesus is working towards the renewal of everything! In the verses following this announcement, Jesus is explaining how far reaching his work of renewal actually is:
- Jesus is making new the heaven and earth, his renewal work has cosmic implications.
- Jesus is making new the Holy City, the New Jerusalem – she is coming down from heaven like a beautiful bride, full of brilliance and glory, like the wife of the Lamb.
- Jesus is renewing the Garden of Eden, restoring it from the former glory it has had before being destructed by human sin. This garden will have a life giving river flowing through it, with a tree bearing huge crops and with leaves for the healing of nations.
- Jesus is also restoring they joy of people, wiping away their tears, taking away their pain, giving them life.
- God will then come down and in a new way dwell with us, his people.
This is an unimaginable promise, perhaps the most unbelievably great promise in the Bible. It is not a Utopian dream that will never realise? Will it really happen? When? How? Will it only happen one day, in the unknown, distant future? Will it be preceded by apocalyptic events, the destruction of this earth and the annihilation of the human population on this earth in order to replace it with something new? Are the doomsday prophets with their theories about how this world will come to an end perhaps to be believed? Or will it be a continuous renewal; not replacement, but rather transformation, recovery of the existing world, reconciliation between God and a fallen world?
We need to be humble and hesitant to give exact answers on when and how the Lord will make everything new. However, that the resurrected Christ, through his Spirit, will indeed make everything new, of that we can be sure! But there is also an intriguing phrase added to his promise to make everything new: “It is done”, Jesus said (verse 6). The renewal already started, it already became a reality, it happened. It commenced with the resurrection. It was accomplished when Jesus defeated death! The buds and the blossoms, the daffodils and tulips of spring, or the crisp blue skies, the white clouds and warm colours of autumn, the refreshed and restored nature after a time of rest, and the love and joy on peoples’ faces and in their voices, even despite these difficult times, are all reminders, already existing signs of Jesus Christ who said: “I am making everything new”. GvdW