Judge & Friend (Revelation 3:19-22)

December 17, 2023 | Meritt Raup

The sermon discusses how Jesus is both judge and friend according to Revelation 3:19-22. As judge, Jesus will reward believers with a seat on his throne. As friend, Jesus invites believers to open the door and have a meal with him in close fellowship. The sermon encourages believers to be victorious in faith and to be friends of Jesus by welcoming him and extending his friendship to others.


The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

Good morning. It’s great to be with you. So we opened God’s Word together. And before we begin, let me just again, say thank you. Thank you for how you’ve welcomed Sarah and I into this church family. We’ve enjoyed getting to know so many of you. And we will, we will miss you. It’s been an honor to serve our students, to see them grow in their faith. And I’m excited to see all the great things that God will continue to do here through the people of Cityview. So, so thank you. And this week, I was thinking, what do I want to leave you with. And it’s this, Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. On the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory, and grace. Keep your focus on him. Don’t look to the right or to the left, but look straight ahead. His face is wonderful. So look full into it. I’m confident that the things of earth this crazy, sinful, complex, uncertain world that we live in, it will look strangely dim, and the illuminating light of Christ’s glory in Christ’s grace. So Turn your eyes upon Jesus always. That’s what I want to leave you with. And it’s also what I want to hope I hope we can do this morning. As we continue our series, the unexpected King, we’re looking at the excellency of Christ, the paradoxes of his character, that make him an unexpected King. Yeah, just the king that we need. We started a few weeks ago with how Christ is both the Lion and the Lamb. Last week, we saw how Christ was both declared guilty, yet he was innocent. And so today, we are studying revelation 319 through 22, the excellency of Christ and that he is both judge, and friend. He is the sovereign judge over the entire universe. He will execute justice over all things in all people. But he’s also our friend. And he calls us to a close fellowship with him. He’s the sovereign judge, but our close friend, and I hope that our crazy world will grow strangely dimmer, as we consider the glory and the grace of Christ in this passage. So let’s read our passage. And then we’ll dive in together. Revelation chapter three, verses 19. Through 22, says this says Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me, to the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne. Just as I was victorious, and sat down with My Father on His throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. You know, Christ is both judge and friend. And for our purposes today, I think it’ll be helpful for us to think in terms of two seats, two seats, we’ll start with Christ as judge. So that means that we have a seat on the throne, a seat on the throne. We see it right here in Revelation three to the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne. Take a step back a little bit. The book of Revelation is a vision given by Jesus to the apostle John, to be shared with seven churches in Asia Minor. Jesus tells John in chapter one, he says right on a scroll what you see, and send it to the seven churches. And the purpose of the book is to encourage Christians to faithfully endure to the end. Because in the end, Jesus wins. That’s what the book of relation is all about. And each of these seven churches, they each have a short letter within the book written specifically to them. So these are the words that we just read of Jesus to the church in the town of Laodicea. We only read the second half of the letter to Laodicea. But the first half you might be familiar with. Jesus has some harsh words for this church. because they’re neither hot nor cold. They’re lukewarm. And so Jesus wants to spit them out of his mouth. The church of Laodicea was like a cup of room temperature coffee. Disgusting. Coffee is meant to be either iced or hot. You know, some people like iced coffee, not me. But if that’s you, that’s okay. But hot coffee is good as well. That’s what I prefer. I like it to be exactly 140 degrees. But lukewarm coffee, you just want to spit it out of your mouth, because it’s disgusting. That’s the way Jesus describes the church in Laodicea. They were very wealthy. They were known for their luxury. They’re known for their intellect as well. Yeah, this produced in them a tremendous pride, where they thought they didn’t even need God anymore. They thought they had it all. But in reality, they were spiritually bankrupt. We don’t have time to get into all of this passage to get into all of that, but we can learn from the church and Laodicea. Christ wanted them to see that he is judge. That’s what they needed to hear. And we can learn from this as well. Now Christ has the right to judge. He’s worthy of that of that name. In verse 21, it says that Jesus was victorious. And he sat down with His Father on His throne. Jesus is the judge because he is victorious. Jesus conquered the greatest enemies, sin and death. And he did it by becoming sin for us, by going through Death himself. Even more than this, he is the creator of the universe. He owns everything. So he has the right to judge. Now, let me say that this is not typically a topic that we talk about during Christmas time. We like to think about baby Jesus, the cute manger scene with the shepherds and the angels and the animals. Joy to the World Peace on Earth. Why are we talking about Jesus as the judge? Well, this season that we’re in Advent, the word Advent simply means coming. We celebrate Christ’s Advent him coming into the world to save us from our sins. And one of the unexpected realities of the advent of Jesus is that there will be two of them. Jesus came once already, but He will come again in the future. So even though there are two distinct Advents, we cannot entirely separate both of those Advents from each other. When we celebrate Jesus coming in the past, we must also at the very least consider how that points us forward to his second advent. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. There’s only there’s not one nice baby Jesus that we had at Christmas time. And then there’s a another judge full wrathful Jesus coming. In the end? No, there’s one Jesus. There’s one mission, but two Advents. It’s clear from John chapter three, verse 17, that during his first advent, Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but save the world. In fact, we already stand condemned by our own sin. It’s also clear that at Christ’s Second Advent, he will finish the work of judgment that has already began. That’s the significance of Christ being seated with God the Father on His throne. Elsewhere in Matthew chapter 25, Jesus says, says, When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Christ on his glorious throne, means that Christ will judge and that is good news of great joy. Because for Christ to be judge means that all sin will be dealt with. All of the sin that exists everywhere across all of time, will be finally and decisively dealt with the consequences will be laid out, and the presence of sin will be done away with. This includes the sin in our world, the corrupt systems and idolatrous institutions that serve the enemy. The diseases in the disasters decimate people’s lives.
The Division and the strife that causes disunity among people will go away. The fact that all sin will be dealt with also means every sin done against you. Have you ever been sinned against someone wronged you? Has that ever happened? And then the person that never got punished for it? Maybe you came up with a brilliant idea at work. You told your coworker about it. And then your coworker goes to the company and presents the idea as their own. They get all the credit, even though it was you that came up with that idea. That’s not right. How will that sin ever get dealt with you and I may never see the results in this life. But know that Christ sees everything he knows. When Christ comes to judge, he will set everything right. You can rest in the truth that vengeance is his, and he will repay the fact that all sin will be dealt with also includes the sin done by you. We’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All of us will give an account for everything that we have ever done before Christ on that day. The apostle Paul says in Second Corinthians five, verse 10, he says, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done in the body, whether good or bad. Every single person will stand before him. No one is exempt from Christ, the judge may ask you, how do you think you will do? When you give an account for everything that you have ever done in your life? What do you think the verdict will be? Will we be innocent or guilty? On that day, there won’t be any excuses for any of us either. There won’t be a well, I did mostly good. I mean, yeah, I did a little bad too. But I did mostly good right? Now try using that excuse to get out of a parking ticket some time. Go for the judge. And you’re like, Well, yes, but most of the time I parked legally. I don’t think that’ll work. We’re all guilty. And we know we’re all guilty. Which is why it’s incredibly good news. That there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the judge who stepped down off of his throne to become like us. He took the condemnation that we deserve, Christ is innocent. Yet he became guilty on our behalf. So that we the guilty ones, will be declared innocent. But incredibly good news. Christ’s will set all of the sin in this world, all the sin done to you and all the sin that you have done. All of it will be set right. So that means for, for believers, for those who are victorious, the day of Christ, judgment is not a day of condemnation, but a day of reward. Christ has already paid for our sin. And so then what is left is we will be rewarded for all of our righteous deeds. To those who are faithful to the end, the Lord will give you the prize to the one who is victorious. I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne is what he says. What an incredible honor. No one else in all of creation is bestowed with such a high honor. Not even the angels themselves in heaven, will sit on the phone with Jesus. At the end of his life, the apostle Paul writes in Second Timothy four he says, I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. The Lord the righteous Judge, will award you for your faithfulness to Him at His Second Advent. He will grant you the crown of righteousness. You will sit on the throne with Jesus and share in his room In his reign over all creation. This is for all who along for His appearing, do you long for His appearing? Do you look forward to the day when Christ will return as judge? Can you see here the value of considering both the first advent and the second advent of Jesus, we celebrate what Jesus has already done by coming into our world as a baby. And we look forward to when He comes again to finish what he started. And I think it’s helpful that we can sing. Many of the Christmas songs that we sing about Christ’s first advent, we can also sing them in terms of a second advent. Joy to the world, the Lord is come, Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and let heaven and nature sing. He rules the world with truth and grace. He makes the nation’s prove the glories of His righteousness, in the wonders of His love. I think the response for us is clear. Because Jesus is Judge, be victorious, be victorious. In verse 21, it says to the one who is victorious. This is what is true. To be victorious in the book of Revelation is simply another word for faith. Faith. We can also say to the one who faithfully endures to the end, Jesus will give them the right to sail with him on his throne. Like Paul, it’s for those who fight the good fight for those who finish the race, for those who keep the faith. Those are the people who get the crown of righteousness in the seat on the throne. Just as Jesus was victorious, through His sacrifice on the cross, we are victorious through our faith in Him. So let this understanding of the advent of Jesus, deepen your faith in Him. We want to be people who longed for and love His appearing, both his first appearing and in his second appearing as well. So let this first advent this Christmas season. Let it help you love his second advent when He comes again, as judge, you know, if you’ve, if you’ve never put your faith in Jesus, let today be the day you can be victorious to without faith, you don’t have a seat on the throne. The second advent of Jesus will not be a day of reward for you. But if you put your faith in Him, you will experience the crown of righteousness, you will have a seat on the throne with him. Your sin will be paid in full by the righteous judge who came to us and he was born on that wonderful Christmas night. Be victorious. Well, this morning, we want to turn our eyes upon Jesus, we’re gonna look full in his wonderful face. glorious truth is that Christ is not only our judge, who gives us a seat on the throne, but he’s also our friend who gives us a seat at the table gives us a seat at the table. This comes from verse 20. In our passage, he says, Here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person. And they with me. Friendship with Jesus is a wonderful thing. Abraham in the Old Testament is called a friend of God because of his faith. Charles Spurgeon said that is one of the sweetest things in all the world to be called a friend of Jesus. This is the relationship and the fellowship that we were created for.
And God had this friendship in himself for all of eternity, eternity past and going into eternity future. The members of the Trinity God the Father, God, the Son and God, the Spirit have a triune relationship of love that has been for all of time. And he calls us to join him in that relationship, that close fellowship with himself. That’s what we were made for. It’s why He created us. It’s through Christ as our friend, and we can experience this. Jesus is certainly much more than just our friend. You know, we don’t want to irreverently turn Jesus into our buddy or Powell. He’s much more than that. But Jesus is the The best friend that you could ever have was because Christ invites himself in. He’s the one that is standing at the door. He comes to us he says, Here I am, I stand at the door and knock. Let me in. I think of the story was that kiss? The Kiss was a wee little man. And a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree. For the Lord he wanted to see. It says in in Luke chapter 19. verses one through five says Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through a man who was there by the name of Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short, he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore fig tree to see him. Since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him that he has come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. Jesus shows incredible friendship to Zacchaeus by inviting himself in. Normally, it’s not polite, to invite yourself somewhere normally have to be invited by someone. But with Jesus, it’s it’s exactly this quality. That makes his friendship so wonderful. He saw Zacchaeus he called out to him and he invited himself in for a meal. The Kiss was not the person to pursue if Jesus was looking for political points, or social standing. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. He was viewed as a traitor by the Jewish people. That’s why the crowd begins to mutter, Jesus, Jesus is is a friend of sinners. You bet Jesus is a friend of sinners. That’s why his friendship is so unexpected. Yeah, so wonderful. Jesus pursues sinners, the most undeserving and most unexpected people. He invites himself in to anyone who will open the door. Now, we all agreed a few minutes ago that we were all guilty sinners, right? You standing at the door? He’s knocking. He’s calling out to you. He’s inviting himself in. Are you going to answer? See, you don’t you don’t need to go looking for Jesus. Jesus is not hiding behind a door. He’s not hiding under a rock somewhere. You don’t need to solve a riddle to discover him. He’s come to us. He came into our world as a child on that Christmas night. He’s revealed Himself to us through His Word. James Hastings, he said, we think of truth hiding behind a door that we need to find. But Christ is not hidden. He comes to us and we simply need to open the door. So Christ invites himself in. But even more than this Christ invites us in. Notice that Jesus doesn’t kick down the door. Jesus doesn’t open the door himself. Even though he certainly could. No, no, he invites us to a friendship where we play a role. This is this is what it means that we love Him because He first loved us. He isn’t forced himself onto us against our will. But it’s when our hearts are made new. We open the door and he invites us into fellowship with Him. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person. And they with me. Anyone who opens the door can have this friendship with Jesus. He invites us to open the door and and part of what that means is he invites us to join him in his mission. And John chapter 15, Jesus says to His disciples, He says, You are my friends, if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his masters business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father, I have made known to you. Yes, it is true, that we are servants of God. But it’s also true that we are friends. Now there’s a there’s a difference between an acquaintance and a friend. You don’t share your entire life with an acquaintance. You don’t really talk about the important things of life. You kind of stick to the weather and sports and stuff like that. But with a friend, you talk about all of life. You’re open with them, you trust them, you let them into the more vulnerable parts of your life. So Jesus doesn’t call us to be acquaintances with him? He doesn’t want mere servants he doesn’t want a one dimensional relationship. No, he calls us into an all of life kind of fellowship with Him. This is why Jesus invites us into His mission. All that the Father made known to Jesus, he is made known to us. We know his business. What do you think about it, Jesus just doesn’t need us to fulfill His mission. Jesus could could spread the gospel himself. He he could appear to people he could, he could use angels even. But no, he uses us because He calls us friends. And he invites us into an all of life kind of relationship with Him, where we play a role in his mission. And as awesome as it is that Jesus invites us into this mission, it goes even further than that. Jesus invites us to a meal. Whoever opens the door, Jesus will come in and eat with that person. You know, a meal is one of the most hospitable things that you can share with someone, especially in the New Testament culture in the Middle East where hospitality was was held in such a high esteem. For someone to host a meal was to invite that that person into a partnership of fellowship with you. It’s much more significant than we view it today. It wasn’t, it was an invitation into an intimate close relationship. You might have even stayed overnight, it might have even lasted a few days. Because it wasn’t about the food itself. The meal is not just about eating it’s about the relationship. Now Jesus is not in the drive thru waiting for you to hand him that to go back. It’s not the kind of meal he’s after. No, he’s he’s after a sit down homemade family dinner on the holidays, that kind of meal. Know when you have the appetizers that that you eat, while the the main course is still cooking in the kitchen, and then the smell fills the entire house and you know that smell right? And then the the main course comes out, it’s not just any main course it’s the it’s the signature, the family recipe, it’s the best of the best that you bring out. And then there’s the obligatory nap on the couch afterwards, because you ate so much. And then after a little while the desserts come out and then you eat some more and you lose, you lose track of time because nothing else is on the schedule. And all that matters is just being together as a family, you’re simply enjoying the day. That’s a taste of the meal that Jesus invites us into. Because the meal is not the goal. The goal is a close personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus calls us friends. But his friendship is far deeper than even the greatest relationships we have here on this earth. Any worldly friendship pales in comparison to friendship with Jesus. Just like there’s a difference between an acquaintance and a friend. There’s there’s a difference between a friend and a spouse. I know my wife far greater than I know any of my friends. There’s no one on this earth that takes priority over her. She has the number one spot. Friendship with Jesus ought to be even deeper than that of a spouse. Because Jesus wants the number one spot. It’s one of the reasons why I think the the church is called the Bride of Christ. That metaphor is used to describe our relationship to him. It’s the kind of relationship he invites us into that’s, that’s the greatest earthly example that we can think of. Later in the book of Revelation, John describes the the joy in Heaven, over the wedding feast of the Lamb. A great multitude is praising God, because of the celebration of the Lamb and His Bride. Bless it are those who are invited to this feast it says
yeah, at a wedding. What’s the point of the reception? The point of the wedding reception is not primarily to enjoy a nice meal, or to dress up fancy. The point of the wedding reception is to celebrate the new relationship of the married couple. In a similar way, Jesus invites us into a close friendship, closer than any relationship on this earth, where we share an unhurried meal together. And the point is not the meal itself. But the friendship. So Jesus invites us to a seat at the table. It’s one of the sweetest things in all the world to be called Christ’s friend. He invites himself in And then He invites us in. I think the response for us is clear again, be a friend, be a friend, be a friend to Jesus. Hear him knocking, LISTEN to His voice, and open the door and let him in. join him at the table. This is Jose he has responded to the invitation of Jesus. Look again at Luke 19. It says, When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, that he has come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. So we came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, he has gone to be the guest of a sinner. But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, look, Lord, here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anybody out of money, I will pay back four times the amount. Jesus said to him, today, salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham, for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the last Zacchaeus is considered a friend of Jesus, just like Abraham was in the Old Testament. He welcomed him gladly. He came down at once, there was no hesitation. It was an invitation he couldn’t refuse. And it ought to be the same for us today. Welcome Jesus gladly prepare Him room. join him at the table. Of course, it’s not the meal itself that Jesus wants. It’s the relationship. He wants that close relationship. Spend time with him. Talk to Him in prayer. Don’t just talk to him about the sports and weather. Talk to you about everything in your life. Be a friend to Jesus. And then when you do that, join him on his mission and be a friend to others. Be a friend to others. Anyone who hears the voice of Jesus and opens the door will have a seat at the table. Jesus extends his invitation to anyone. And as his friends we know our masters business. He uses us to extend his friendship to the world. In John chapter 15, right before Jesus calls his disciples, his friends, he says this, he says, My command is this. Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus showed the greatest love by laying down his life for his friends. Let’s command for us is the same. Love others the way Jesus loved us. Of course, we can’t die for others in the same way that Jesus died for us. We can follow his example as we love others. So get down on your hands and knees. Take off your robe and wash someone’s feet. Humble yourself and put the interests of others above your own. invite others into a close friendship with Jesus. Practice gospel centered hospitality. And Christmas is a great time of year to do this because we celebrate Jesus coming into our world to serve. We have an opportunity to point others to him through our service as well. Invite someone over for a meal. It’s a simple thing, invite them into your home. Not a fast food meal. But a sit down slow unhurried meal, where the relationship is the goal. Invite someone to worship here on Sunday. Be a friend of Jesus be a friend to others. Well, hope this morning you’ve been able to see the light of Christ, glory and grace. He’s the judge who gives us a seat on the throne. But he’s also our friend who gives us a seat at the table. And these two realities must be held together. If Christ is only our judge, then we lack the relationship that we were made for. But of Christ is only our friend, and we lack the justice that we long for. But Christ is excellent in that he is both so be victorious because you have a seat on the throne and be a friend because you have a seat at the table. Let’s pray together. Gracious Heavenly Father. You are excellent. unmatched in all your wisdom. You’re the judge you We’re the perfect judge who will set all things right near the judge who came down off your throne to become like us. So help us to be victorious. We want to be victorious want to finish the race, we want to want to keep the faith. We want to endure to the end and be faithful to you knowing that we have a C on your throne with you. So thank you. Well, we know you’re also our friend. You call us into a close intimate relationship with you and unhurried meal. So help us to be a friend help us to be your friend. Help us to extend this friendship to others. And Father this morning, would you give us ears to hear what you say to the church? We know that that is where true blessing is found. As you celebrate your first advent, we thank you for coming into our world and we look forward to when you will come again. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

© 2020 Cityview Community Church