Last week, in our study through Revelation, we looked at 1:10-16. This week, we will continue the same section/event, but this time we will focus on verses 17-20. Last time we looked at what John saw and heard, ultimately finding out it was Jesus; this time we will listen to Jesus describe Himself and see how John reacts to seeing Jesus. John writes:
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look — I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades. Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this. The secret of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven gold lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
Talking to my pastor yesterday, we spoke about the sufficiency of Christ. A primary point that was made was this: if we really see Christ as sufficient, won’t sin look a lot less appealing? My mind instantly flew back to the Revelation passage i posted about last week. John had written in 1:12-16,
I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands, and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. His head and hair were white like wool — white as snow — and His eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday.
If i saw Jesus as glorious–the way John describes Him there–how could i ever flippantly sin against Him?
If i was drawn to respond to Christ the way John responds in verse 17, i wouldn’t have time to sin against Christ:
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.
Christ is God, and He alone is worthy of worship, as the book of Revelation will repeatedly show. The proper response to the risen, exalted Christ is to bow down in humble reverence. Do you spend time worshipping Him in awe, or is your worship of Him more mechanical? I pray for heartfelt awe.
And then in the rest of verse 17-18, Jesus’ amazing love and grace are displayed.
He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look — I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
Jesus, as the holy, exalted, risen God, laid His hand on John. He placed His right hand on John; this is an honor! More than just the physical touch from Jesus toward the very man who had leaned against Him during the Last Supper (John 13:23), Jesus speaks words of comfort to him. This comfort comes in three statements, all included in the injunction to not be afraid.
First, Jesus tells him He is God. This comes across clearly in the talk of “the First and the Last” and “the Living One.” Jesus, as the God of the universe, comforts John–a mere man–by putting His hand on him and speaking to him. This is the God we serve. We must never take Him for granted.
Second, Jesus reiterates the gospel for John. John wrote a gospel, but he still needed to be reminded of the gospel. We must never tire of hearing the gospel. Jesus died and rose again, never to perish again. Believe it!
Third, Jesus gives John assurance that no matter what befalls him in this life, He is in control. Even if the Romans succeed in martyring Him, Jesus has the keys to death, and He must simply open the door to bring John back to life. This is our hope too. Jesus is the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). We must believe in Him to have eternal life, but if we believe, that life will never be stolen from us. This is good news!
Lastly, in verse 19, we see John’s response to Jesus’ words. Verses 19-20 are simply the words, but the remainder of Revelation proves that John heeded the words of Jesus.
“Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this. The secret of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven gold lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
When Christ speaks, we must obey. John did. He wrote the book of Revelation. In fact, Jesus gives an incentive for John to obey in verse 20. He tells him the meaning of the stars and lampstands in His hands.
Because Christ holds the church, He wants John to share the message of Revelation with them. It is part of His perfect plan to bring them into eternity with Him. They need encouragement and exhortation, and Revelation provides precisely that.
This is the God we serve. He is humble enough to mingle with sinners, even laying His hands on them after He has been exalted. He loves us enough to encourage us in our lives, and He inspired the Word of God to help guide us on the straight and narrow, straight through heaven’s gate. These are all reasons to be in awe of Him!
Are you in awe of Him?
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.
The next entry can be found here.