Revelation 22:10-13 (ESV) – And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
“What we do in life echoes in eternity…” This is a line uttered by Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus, in the Oscar-winning film, Gladiator as he leads the Roman army into battle. It is actually a variation on a line from Marcus Aurelius’ work, Meditations, in which he writes, “What we do now echoes in eternity.” It was ironically celebrated by the graffiti artist, Banksy, in 2013 in Queens,NY, which is featured in the above image, in a statement that turns the line on its head.
Regardless of your viewpoint, the saying is true. What we do here and now matters forever.
In Revelation, John is given a glimpse of the end of all things, and in poetic and dramatic fashion he relays all he sees and hears. It is magnificent and at times frightening, and, unlike the apocalyptic account to Daniel, it is not meant to be sealed. It is meant to be shared. Why? Because Jesus is coming back, and soon.
Of course, soon is a relative term. My kids think that next Christmas is an eternity away, while, in my mind, it will be here faster than the flash of a camera. As a child I remember thinking I would never grow old enough to drive a car, but now life moves at an ever-increasing speed. From our perspective it seems as though Jesus has long-delayed or perhaps even forgotten to come back, but from the eternal perspective it is just a few days… And those days may end at any moment without warning.
But in the meantime, we are still accountable for what we say, think, feel, and do.
When Jesus returns it will be to finish what he began on the cross and through the empty tomb. He will not come in meekness but with power. He will not come in frailty but in strength. He will come to wipe out evil and crush the last effects of death and sin. And he will come to judge.
“Whoa! Wait, a minute really!? I thought Jesus said, we weren’t supposed to judge others… and now he is!” – that’s the typical internal response we have when we hear that Jesus does, in fact, judge people according to their deeds. There’s a problem with that attitude, because it represents a lack of understanding for the context of the command not to judge, and it also places Jesus in the same moral, ethical, and spiritual arena as we are. He was like us in every way, BUT he was without sin. Jesus was God with skin on, BUT he is still God. He is the only one with the right and authority to judge, so he will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, and the righteous from the unrighteous.
Yet, for those of us who have placed their faith in Jesus and his saving grace we will not be judged based on our sin and face the eternal separation from God, but will face an inheritance of glory. Yes, our actions will still be judged, but the only action that will count for our eternal salvation will be the action Jesus has taken on our behalf.
All of our actions have ramifications into eternity, but the most significant one is that action to accept or reject Jesus Christ. The next is like it: how we live each day in light of that action. Lent is a time for the believer to reflect on that most important and eternal action and how it reverberates in the lives of our friends, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and strangers.
Jesus has delayed so that we might take the most important event in human history, his life, death, and resurrection, and share that with more and more people. Our decision to walk with Christ may echo in our own eternities, but our decision to share or not share Jesus will echo in the eternities of others.