Ps. 148; Acts 11:1-18; Rev. 21:1-7; John 16:12-22
New, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth … And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with men … and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (vv. 1a, 2, 3a, 4b, c).
The slain Lamb from the foundation of the world, continues opening God’s seven-sealed Scroll (Rev. 5:5, 9) revealing the conclusion of the first creation by God’s new creation, denouement of Christ’s work on the cross, his Kingdom come.
Following man’s fall into unbelief, for the woman’s part, the Lord decreed, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16a) the consequent of befouling sin of the “good creation” and ensnaring the cosmos in pain, tears, death, and mourning.
The woman’s birth pangs, was not so much physical as her knowledge of what she could not bear, that through her flesh all children were condemned; “for dust you are and to dust you shall return” (v. 19c).
In the midst distress that she and her husband had become a curse to all humanity; it was for the man to exercise toward his woman his pastoral office; delivering a word for faith and of hope.
In the moment of the woman’s deepest sorrow, it was essential for the gospel to prevail over the law’s justice. Now was the moment for the man to exercise his naming prerogative of the woman whom God gifted him for his wholeness.
Adam chose well, a gospel name, “Eve” to reflect God’s gracious character; “God… of the living” (Mt. 22:32); “because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20).
Jesus holds the title as Mary’s “firstborn Son”. In context (Exodus 19) this says nothing of whether Mary had other children with Joseph (she probably did); instead at the first exodus God commanded all “firstborn males” be “redeemed” from sacrificial dedication to Him.
But at Jesus’ temple dedication he was presented to the Father without a redeeming sacrifice (cf. Lk. 2:22-24, the two birds were exclusively for Mary’s purification rite); thus Jesus, the only unredeemed “first-born male” had become God’s sacrificial Lamb for the sin of the world.
Baptism restores our life in Jesus, the Fruit of Mary’s womb, delivering Adam’s gospel proclamation to Eve, that she would be “life of all living”; Mary is not “Queen of heaven”; rather she is type and picture of the church, the “Woman” (Jn. 2:4, 19:26), Jesus’ destined bride, new Jerusalem and holy city (Rev. 21:2).
God’s Scroll is being unsealed in the NT, teaching of two deaths and two resurrections (Rev. 20:4-6). Our first resurrection occurs in Baptism, rising out of the world’s first death of unbelief through God’s gift of faith by the HS.
The second resurrection occurs on the Last Day when our physical bodies participate in the body of Christ, a union that anticipates our reception of His body and blood in the Holy Supper. There is of course a second death, terrible to consider, for those who hold at naught God’s grace in Christ.
By the resurrection of Jesus, he is “First Fruits” of God’s new creation in which we possess the promise of the Father and the gift of Christ, the HS with his church.
The HS is the power and person by whom we have that which saves and resurrects us, repentant faith. The HS is the voice of Christ (Jn. 3:8), speaking gospel from the diluvian waters of the first creation.
As for children of tender years, we dare not fail Jesus’ directive to “suffer” infants for entering into the church’s embrace (Mt. 19:14, KJV) for Baptism’s first resurrection (Acts 11:16, 17).
Before death and resurrection, Jesus taught his Apostles things they were incapable of comprehending; but on Easter Day Jesus breathed into them their Baptism for the HS for faithfulness to gospel ministry through his Woman (Jn. 20:22).
Jesus said, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again, a little while, and you will see me” (Jn. 16:16). Jesus’ “little while” speaks to his Apostles’ coming understanding in the Resurrection and sighted faith by baptismal entry into his cross.
Forty days in the Resurrection the Apostles and disciples were weaned from the old sight of God’s presence into the church’s new comprehension; now in the HS we grasp after the affair of Thomas’ faithlessness, “Blessed are those who have not seen (in the old way) and yet have believed (the new creation coming into being by word and sacrament)” (Jn. 20:29b).
Jesus spoke to his Apostles about Baptism, of coming out of the world’s unbelief comparing faith to a woman’s labor pangs and concluding in the joy that a man is newly born. The joy of new being is experienced by the Woman in every baptismal resurrection from death.
Life is precious, fidelity to our first resurrection by continuing to engage word and Sacrament strengthens us to the Last Day against the second death of unbelief (Rev. 21:8). Amen.