Jesus Revealed and Relevant (Rev. 1:9-20)
There is John praying. He is alone, exiled on a remote island because of his faith in Jesus, praying. Maybe he is wondering about that faith and where it has brought him. His brother, James, has been killed for it; his closest friends, the apostles, have one by one been martyred for it; he has been exiled for it. The churches they have established are suffering great trials and persecutions for it. It may have been one of those days when you wonder if all the trouble is worth it. Ever had days like that?
Suddenly a loud voice cascades from behind him saying, “Pay attention! Everything you’re about to see needs to be transcribed and transmitted to my people.” Turning toward the voice, John catches a glimpse of Jesus like he’s never seen him before. Eugene Peterson, in The Message describes it: “I saw a gold menorah with seven branches, and in the center, the Son of Man, in a robe and gold breastplate, hair a blizzard of white, eyes pouring fire-blaze, both feet furnace-fired bronze, His voice a cataract, right hand holding the Seven Stars, His mouth a sharp-biting sword, His face a perigee sun.” John did what any self-respecting observer would do in that situation: he fainted dead away.
Sometimes we become so comfortable with the idea of Jesus, with placing Him in a convenient little box in our lives, we forget, or ignore the fact, that He is Almighty God. Author N.T. Wright describes our position of attempting to discern details about God as something like looking at the sun; staring directly at its brilliance is nothing less than bedazzling, blinding, and breathtaking. So we avoid looking that direction, most often. We tuck Him safely behind the puffy cloud of our theologies, where the beams of His presence can escape into view in small doses we can handle. Every once in a while, though, we are struck with a staggering awareness of His majesty.
The prophet Isaiah describes his reaction to a glimpse of God, saying, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isa. 6:5)
But Jesus hasn’t come to John to blow him away; Jesus has revealed something of His majesty to him because He is relevant and because He wants to meet a need of John’s and of his flock of churches. If we are astute, we’ll even find He has come to John to meet a need of OURS; He has come to be relevant to OUR situation, here and now. So Jesus reaches down to where John lies stunned, lifts him up by the hand, and reassures him.
“Do not be afraid. I am the First and I am the Last.” In other words, everything you are experiencing falls within the boundaries of My existence – nothing comes as a surprise to Me. I am life itself and I can transform even death into life. I am the answer to your every need, shallow or deep. I’m going to reveal some things to you – things that are happening now, and things that will happen in the future. They all affect Me and they all affect you; they all are relevant to your faith. I AM RELEVANT. Do you believe it?
That is our primary question in life. If Jesus is relevant to our existence, if His relentless pursuit of us is because He’s our only hope of life brimming and bursting with infinite value, then we desperately need Him. If not, we might as well trudge on with the meaningless task of living only for the here and now, grasping whatever we can get our hands on, because when the lights go out, the party’s over.
Jesus is offering Himself to us. He is the source of life, He is the life of life, and He is triumphant in offering eternity to us, in spite of our foolish flirting with rebellion, reckless dallying with death. What will we do with that? How will we respond to His revelation of Himself? Think about it. Imagine what it means if the revelation is real and He is truly relevant.
The first and best response is always prayer. First and Last One, Living One who holds the keys of life and death, we see You today in a stunning revelation of Yourself. Take away our fears; strengthen our feeble faith and fainting hearts. We choose to believe you are more relevant to our lives than anything else. Open our eyes today to see You transforming the evidences of death in our lives into life. We believe.