GETTING THE MESSAGE/Enter by the narrow gate
In Revelation 22:12-15, the Lord Jesus Christ is the one speaking. He gives some facts about His coming, His return to earth. First He says, “Behold, I am coming soon.” Behold means to pay careful attention. He is certainly coming. Peter explains in his 2nd epistle that seeming delay in the Lord’s coming is because the duration of time is not long to the Lord; one day is as a 1000 years.
The reason for emphasizing “soon” is twofold. First, to be always prepared: that day will catch many unaware. Secondly, it is for His people to long for His appearing. When He returns He will be glorified and that is what Christians should desire above anything in this world. Are you prepared for the Lord’s sudden appearing? Do you long to see Him glorified? He will come soon.
The next fact about Christ’s return is that He comes in judgment, “bringing his recompense with him, to repay each one according to what he has done.” This doesn’t mean a Christian’s works contribute anything to their justification, meaning their being declared righteous according to God’s standards. Justification is only by being washed in the blood of the Lamb (verse 14).
However, this does point to the sincerity of our faith. When one comes to Christ, he takes Christ as his prophet, priest, and king. One can’t say Christ is welcome with His pardon of sin (as priest), but yet be the ruler of their own life (king), and do what is right in their own eye rather than follow the words of Christ (prophet). He said to such people, “Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?”
But this statement of the Lord about bringing His recompense with Him is meant as an encouragement for His people. They have endured by faith through many temptations, tribulations, and troubles. They might have been sinful, weak, and fearful along the way, yet they did not deny His name. He tells this about His coming that we might persevere through difficulties and serve Him.
The next fact is that Christ will return as the Sovereign God: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (verse 13). In the book of Revelation, we see Christ as the incomparable and eternal God. We also see Him as the Lamb who died for His people and lives forevermore. These titles in verse 13 are to highlight His deity.
This is for us to understand that what He says is trustworthy and true. But also for the Christian to know all His perfections are to encourage us here and now. Is He omnipotent (all powerful)? Then He is able to save us from death, hell, and whatever forces come against us. Is He omnipresent (in all places)? Then He is with His people in all circumstances to uphold them. Is He omniscient (all knowing)? Then He knows their needs, their persons, their struggles, and cares for them.
In verse 14, Christ’s coming means unimaginable blessing to His people: “They may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” They “washed their robes” means they have been made holy by Christ. He redeemed them from their ungodliness and unrighteousness.
How can we measure the value of entering the gates of that city and eating of the tree of life? When God is at peace, all is at peace. There the curse is taken away and all who enter have complete salvation in body and soul for all eternity. Is it any wonder Jesus said, “What good does it do a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” If you aren’t allowed to enter the gates, you are lost forever.
Eating the tree of life is a symbol of being filled by God for all eternity. Filled with His love, and filled with the knowledge of God. While we are here, we can only grasp and clutch at what a great salvation Christ accomplished. But in that city, in that day, all will be clear, and all will be well.
In verse 15 we see another fact of Christ’s return: the ungodly will be shut out. There is a list of sins given, the sum of which is “everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Those who don’t know Christ, who have refused Christ, will be outside the blessed city.
No gold-plated, showy righteousness will do. Corruption in the heart lies underneath. Christ must cleanse us or we have no part in him. The point verse 15 is that the sins of the ungodly will be exposed. There will be no excuses. So make sure of Christ. Enter by the narrow gate as Jesus instructed. Live as though you were going to enter the city of God in a few days.