22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
This entire beatitude glorifies the Grace of God granted to obedient believers. And...not to forget...calls them to “wash their robes”...that is, remain obedient to Jesus in discipleship.
God’s Grace removes the sin that prevented our fellowship with him. Persevering disciples can therefore qualify, without being worthy, to walk into “Jerusalem just like John”; to access the Tree of Life; to live forever transformed bodily and spiritually into Christ’s likeness.
Remember that God planted two fruit trees in Eden, one with a promise: “Eat as often and as much as you want from the Tree of Life and go on forever.” The other with a threat: “Eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil JUST ONCE and you surely die.”
There, in that Garden of Innocence, of Beauty, of Delight. In constant fellowship with the Father through the Pre-Incarnate Son. With no excuse to fail and every reason to succeed, they STILL FAILED.
The human condition before God! They had to obey but one command for them and their progeny to live forever. ONE command...and they broke it. How could they ever obey TEN?
Their failure removed humanity forever from any role in finding peace with God. Forget it! Mortals did not then, and have not since, discovered a way to enter God’s Presence. We cannot do it. We may be the reason for God’s grace, but we’re only spectators of the origin of the Great Redemption.
Which illustrated the inability of Old Testament Law, though bolstered by animal sacrifices, to be anything but a temporary measure. Note: God determined the initial way broken people could once again be whole: by LAW and SACRFIFICE under Moses.
On and on it went, for centuries. And just when it seemed the situation would continue interminably: good people struggling to live morally beyond their limitations; bad people whining that Law unfairly limited their freedom to do as they pleased.
Just when it seemed...., a bright star shone in the dark night, heralding God’s Final Answer in his Son to Law and Sin. Born under LAW but so gifted he surpassed it. Born in a culture of regulations, replacing it with relationships. Born within Law that fostered limited lifestyles of “do and don’t”, destined to grant fullness of life in every believer by removing crippling sins from and suffusing him with spiritual power that ignited unlimited freedom within Christ’s holiness.
All of which means...first, Adam and Eve did nothing, and we DO nothing, to merit being forgiven and to earn the right to enter the gates into the New Jerusalem. It’s by Grace alone through faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us Galatians 2:20. Second, only those redeemed by Christ’s forgiveness enter that City: dressed in robes of righteousness he alone provides. End Part I