There is much weeping going on in our nation and in the world lately. There is pain all around. John the beloved Apostle wept too, but he wept for a reason that others don’t often consider…
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Revelation 5:2-4 (ESV)
Why did John weep? The answers seems clear from the passage: John wept because no one was worthy. No one. No one on heaven or earth was found worthy to open the scroll.
But what does this mean?
Let me ask you, do you think John wept because he wondered what was in the scroll, and since no one was worthy he thought he might never find out? Hmmm. I don’t think so. He isn’t weeping over an inability to satisfy curiosity. Time and space are different here in Revelation – the scroll isn’t just a prophecy – apparently, the scroll needs to be opened for the plan of redemption to actually take place. And John knows it. So John is weeping because there is no one to accomplish redemption and the consummation of history. No one is worthy.
This is the repeated message of the Scriptures since Genesis 3: no one is worthy.
As Paul said in Romans 3:
For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”…For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:9-12; 23 (ESV)
Today, however, many people believe they are worthy to accomplish their own redemption. I run into these people all the time. When I ask them their plan for standing before God on Judgment Day – they tell me they have lived a good life. In other words, they are quite certain that they are worthy.
Jesus said that many would stand before Him on that day declaring their worthiness:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
“I’m worthy, Lord.”
In fact, there is only One Who is worthy…
And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5 (ESV)
So, you see, Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, is worthy. He is the only One. And if we hope to be found worthy on that day, our only hope is to trust in Him…
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
This is our reason, not to weep…but to rejoice.