Sudden Death
Revelation 22:20
He which testifies these things said, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The primary reference in the words may be, and probably is, to His coming for the initiation of those august procedures in history which are prophetically recorded in the Book of Revelation; but also there may be an underlying reference in them to His appearing at death to the individual disciple. The death of the believer is always, in a true sense, the coming of Christ to him. Applying the words in this way, then, as having a possible personal relation to ourselves, the question naturally occurs: Can we take up and repeat this reply of the apostle, "Amen. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus?" John evidently spoke thus in all sincerity and solemn earnestness. But we may not feel, perhaps, that John was a type for us, since he surpassed us in so many things. He was "the beloved disciple." He had been admitted to a peculiar personal intimacy with Christ. Especially, perhaps, we think he could say this when he may have been at this time — it is not certain — in the decline of life, or already advanced in years; when, at any rate, he was dwelling in a world unfriendly to him and to his faith, without companions, without a home, a lonely exile upon the rock of Patmos. It was then only natural and proper, we may think, that he should utter this prayer to Christ. But we may not so freely repeat it after him. There is a certain tremor of hesitation, natural to the heart, in echoing the words. We have no right to offer such a prayer. Even John did not offer it until the Master had manifested to him His purpose of coming quickly, and then he simply responded to the declared will of the Lord. We may do that, I think, with equal cheerfulness and gladness. When the Master forewarns us that His coming is to be sudden and speedy, we may take up without hesitation, if we are His followers, the words of the apostle: "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" The example of John justifies us in this. He was an eminent disciple; he had had peculiar intimacy of relation with the Master. But he was still a man who needed forgiveness, even as you and I do. He was a man only sanctified in part, as you and I are. Yet he spoke these words, because he knew the Master fully. He had known Him on earth, and he had now seen Him in heaven. He knew the sovereignty of the Lord, but he knew as well His spirit of self-sacrifice; he knew how He had died on the Cross when He need not have done so unless He had chosen, for the salvation of sinners. Therefore, knowing His tenderness as well as His holiness, His infinite sympathy as well as His sovereign and unlimited power, he could say: "Even so, I am not timid before Thy coming; Thy word does-not smite me with fear. Come, Lord Jesus. If we are, then, in fellowship with John, through a similar faith in the Divine Master, we also may take up and echo his words. Consider also why Christ comes at death to His disciple; what things He comes to accomplish.

1. He comes for the recognition of character in His beloved. For this, in part, His approach and death are made.

2. He comes also for the consummation of character in the disciple; not only to recognise it, but to bring it to its completeness. Every Christian grace has its vital root in faith, that is, in loyal and undoubting confidence toward the Son of God. And precisely as this faith becomes clear and firm, in that proportion the graces which spring from it are multiplied and enriched, are raised to a sweeter and mightier supremacy. When, then, at last faith culminates in vision, and we see the Lord — not merely in the evangelical records, not merely in the worship of the Church, or its manifesting sacraments, but "face to face" — then every grace which has been within us, in element and germ, shall rise to sudden superlative completeness, and to the fulness of perfect exhibition.

3. He comes, too, for the coronation of character, as well as for its recognition and its supreme consummation. Character, rooted in faith towards Himself, is the one thing precious on earth to Christ. The production of it in the human soul was the very purpose of His coming in the incarnation. His whole life on earth bore evidently upon this result. Every miracle said, "Believe in Me." Every gracious word of promise attracted to such belief in Him. And when this faith is ready to be transferred to the skies, Christ comes at death to consummate and to crown it. That is the fulfilment of His purpose in Redemption. He must crown the spirit which He seeks and loves. Therefore it was that John could say, "Amen. Even so, Lord, come quickly." And so we need not, either of us, fear, if we are in the faith and fellowship of John, to take upon our lips the same sublime and solemn words.

4. I think that here is suggested a fair preliminary test of experience in us. Suppose that Christ were to come to us at this moment, that for us the earth swung suddenly away into darkness and silence, that unto us the heavens were opened" would He find in us that which He at this instant would accept and approve? Should we be able to welcome Him now at that swift coming?

5. If we can meet this test we need no more to be afraid of sudden death. Within ourselves is that which Christ Himself hath wrought, in which He has gladness. Then we shall share, when we die, in the glory of the transfigured Lord; not seeing it merely, as silently and suddenly it came to the Apostles, but ourselves being participants in it. And that will be all that death is to the disciple.

(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

WEB: He who testifies these things says, "Yes, I come quickly." Amen! Yes, come, Lord Jesus.

On the Coming of Christ
Top of Page
Top of Page