Jesus the Lamb and the 144,000 Believers

Lutheran Daily Lectionary for November 19, 2020, Revelation 14:1-11

Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were the one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (v. 1)

The Adoration of the Lamb, from the Apocalypse Series, 1497 – 1498, Albrecht Durer, The Met 150, Public Domain

Today’s reading from St. John’s vision in Revelation is about the 144,000 redeemed Jews who were faithful to Jesus, the Lamb. Some say the 144,000 refers to all believers in Christ. In either case, they were pure, sealed, and saved by Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The 144,000 were not marked by the Second Evil Beast with the number 666 on their foreheads or on their right hands (Revelation 13).

The 144,000 had the name of the Lamb, Jesus, and His Father written on their foreheads. They were protected during the coming tribulation on earth. They were marked in a holy way. They were identified as belonging to Christ, the Lamb of God, and His Father who sent Him to save the world from the corruption of the evil one.

In our culture today, how are we marked or identified? After this hotly contested national election, we are most likely identified as Democrat or Republican.

Beyond that there is a movement to identify by one’s gender. Some write their pronouns (he/his or she/her) after their signature to clarify their gender. That is helpful because in our society people identify as male, female, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or queer.

We have been identified in our country as rich or poor, Northerner or Southerner, blue collar or white collar, Catholic or Protestant or in the growing “None” category, or black, brown, yellow, red or white.

All of these ways to mark or identify us have been used to divide us as a people and a nation. Some people believe that we should say first of all that we are Americans to unify us and everything else is of secondary importance.

I am old enough to remember the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King and his quotation that we not be identified by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.

As Christians we have been marked with the cross of Christ on our foreheads when we were baptized with water and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. That cross on our foreheads signifies that we belong to Christ. We are His children. We are members of His mystical body. We are given the free gift of grace. And that cross of Christ is there on our foreheads forevermore.

The everlasting mark of the cross of Christ on our forehead reminds us that we are all united in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. We are united with the 144,000 spoken of in the book of Revelation. That mark unites us with Christians of every time and place.

Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we can look beyond the shallow human distinctions from this broken world which divides us and cling to the unity Christ gives to all believers.

O Christ, the Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world and give us mercy and peace. May the church marked with your cross be united in mission to proclaim the gospel, serve all in need, and be a light of hope in our nation now divided by hatred, greed, and the lust for unbridled power. In the name of the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

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