I, John, saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; 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 bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
They sing a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth."
Sing a new song to the Lord,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in its Maker,
let Zion's sons exult in their king. (R./)
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people.
He crowns the poor with salvation. (R./)
Let the faithful rejoice in their glory,
shout for joy and take their rest.
Let the praise of God be on their lips.
this honour is for all his faithful. (R./)
As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God."
In a moment of vision on his rocky prison-island of Patmos, Saint John felt sad about the opened scroll with seven seals, and at the sight of Jesus, bearing the wounds of his passion. In this Book of Revelation Jesus is both the "Lamb that was killed" and the victor who leads his sheep to eternal life. He alone is the holy one, worthy to open the scroll.. for he has purchased for God a people ... and made them "priests to serve our God." John tells his persecuted fellow-Christians that they are tested by fire, like their leader and saviour who triumphed over death.
How does he mean that they were purchased? Not by a painful price paid to God, but because Jesus joined so closely in human flesh and blood that he gave himself for us. His death and resurrection are our family treasure, our inheritance. All God's children are loved in him, and won for the gift of eternal life.
Only the Lamb who has defeated the power of death can open the scroll with the seven seals. Jesus has totally known the trials and joys of human existence. He alone knows our inner core, and can direct our lives and lead us into the presence of God. Through him, we all become "priests to serve our God," whose lives are centred on worship.
There is a sense in which Jesus is helpless in the face of rejection. All he can do is grieve at human obstinacy. He has come to seek and to save the lost, but he does not force himself on people. We need to be responsive to his searching love. He invites us into his friendship, but every so often we need to say to him, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, 'Stay with us, Lord, for the day is now nearly over.'