Have No Fear, Jesus Is Here
“The first summer that my wife and I were dating, she worked as a temp at a bank. In the first two weeks that she had the job, she quickly noticed some extremely unprofessional behavior among the team of four people that she worked with and their supervisor. The supervisor, who was a generation older, was very friendly with the younger staff, taking long coffee breaks with them. College-aged staff would sit on her desk to chat and gossip.
The supervisor and her team were so friendly that the group's behavior toward one other new member of the team was a stark contrast. This person, a woman in her 30s who had come on staff just a week before my wife, was shunned. If she walked up and tried to join the conversation during a coffee break, the conversation ended. The group, including the supervisor, made jokes about her behind her back and laughed at the way she dressed. They rolled their eyes and winked at each other when she was present. It was obvious that this middle management worker was perceived as an unnecessary intrusion.
Two weeks into the temp job, my wife walked into the office on Monday morning and was surprised to find a much different scenario. No gossiping, no kidding around, no long coffee breaks. All the workers had their eyes riveted on their work. The previous supervisor had been replaced. The cliquish team addressed the new supervisor with formal, businesslike respect. My wife thought she even saw fear in their eyes.
The new supervisor was not a stranger. It was the 30-something woman who had been shunned and mocked. It turned out the bank had hired her to be the new supervisor from the first day she came on the job three weeks before, but the bank had concealed her true identity so she could observe the work style of the team.
In some ways, this situation resembles the coming of Christ to earth. In his first coming, Jesus Christ revealed his true identity and glory to his true followers, but to those who did not believe, his glory was largely hidden by his humanity. Following his resurrection, Christ ascended to the right hand of God, where he rules all things. One day he is coming again to the earth to establish his glorious kingdom over everything. At that time there will be no mistaking who is in charge.
[Craig Brian Larson, editor of PreachingToday.com; http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/august/1081610.html]
As a son
When I first started playing baseball as a child I’m certain my parents went with me and stayed for the practice, because it was something new and I was scared/nervous
As I got older, I remember riding my bike into Shippensburg by myself for baseball practice and then riding home afterwards – the fear I had about going to baseball practice was no longer there
Every new thing I experienced growing up brought some fear with it (going hunting; going to high school; driving a car; moving to Birmingham, AL; going to college; etc.)
The great thing is that I was able to do all of things, because I knew that my parents were right there with me
As a father
I’ve gotten to experience this from the other side now, as a parent
Whether it was going to public school, going through the hunter’s safety course with Wade and Seth, playing basketball at Carlisle Christian Academy, preparing for their permit and driver’s tests, going through the motorcycle course with Seth, filling out the FAFSA form for financial aid, filling out college applications and work applications, and eventually living on their own
Those things can be scary when you do it for the first time, but our boys know that Judy and I are right there with them through each of those life experiences to support them and encourage them
Every one of us probably remembers having someone right there with us to go through our life experiences for the first time – their presence provided the strength we needed to do something that scared us or made us nervous
As parents, we know what it’s like to be on the other side and to be the one who provides support and encouragement
Take a moment to remember the person or people who walked with you through your scary life experiences – thank God for them!
Also, take a moment to think about those you will walk alongside of to support and encourage as they go through the same experiences you did
John expresses that he is a brother and companion to those who are experiencing suffering, but he also wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – Jesus’ victory guarantees a fear-free future.
GOD (Revelation 1:9-20)
Suffering for Christ (vv. 9-11)
John felt close to those he was writing to, because of their common bond in Jesus Christ
They were brothers and sisters in Christ and were experiencing the same things
1 John 3:13, Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
Just because John was one of the Apostles, it didn’t make him any better than the other 1st Century followers of Jesus – it didn’t give him a free pass from suffering, persecution, or being hated by the world
In fact John was a companion with the other followers of Jesus Christ in three specific ways
The word means pressure, affliction, or distress in general terms, but also encompasses the tribulations of the last days
As Christians, we will experience difficulties and afflictions because of the Biblical principles we faithfully live by
John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
2 Timothy 3:12, In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
“With it, John insists that he shares with Christians in Asia Minor the tribulations of the end time, which consist of possible exile, imprisonment, social ostracism, slander, poverty, economic exploitation, violence, and the constant threat of judicial action.” [Schussler Fiorenza cited by Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 80]
Tertullian recorded one saying of Jesus that was still circulating in his day: “No one can obtain the kingdom of heaven without first passing through testing.” [Tertullian cited by Keener, The NIV Application Commentary, Revelation, 81]
PRINCIPLE – As followers of Jesus Christ, we will experience suffering.
This refers to Jesus’ reign that began during His first advent on earth and will be fulfilled when He returns the second time
It’s because of Jesus’ kingdom and obedience to it that we suffer difficulties and persecution, but it’s also the hope of His future kingdom that enables us to patiently endure right now
“‘Endurance’ or perseverance means to abide under a heavy load, to stay with it, to hang in there, not to throw in the towel or drop out of the race.” [Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 21]
PRINCIPLE – God provides the strength for His people to patiently endure suffering
John’s exile to Patmos did not catch God or Jesus off guard
The suffering, the kingdom, and the patience to endure are all ours in Jesus
He knew just what John needed to endure
James 1:2-4, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Perhaps you’re experience suffering or persecution because of the Biblical principles you faithfully live by (family members, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, friends)
God is aware of what you’re going through – He is not surprised by it, nor is He caught off guard
He will give you the strength to patiently endure
My Next Step Today Is To: Trust God to give me the strength to endure the suffering or persecution that I am currently experiencing.
The reason for John’s current location
We know that John was currently on the island of Patmos
This little island was about ten miles long and six miles wide
It was located in the Aegean Sea about 40 miles west-southwest of Miletus
It’s terrain was rocky and mountainous
Those exiled there were used for hard labor in the rock quarries
The island was not deserted, it included a Greek gymnasium and a temple and cult of Artemis
I know what you’re thinking, “being exiled on an island with the peaceful sounds of the sea lapping against the coastline doesn’t sound too bad.”
“Hey, they had a temple for worship and a gymnasium to work out – it doesn’t sound much different than our prisons today.”
John had it made – he didn’t have to pay a monthly gym membership, because it was provided by the Roman government
We also know why he was there
It was because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus
He was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and as a result had become a criminal against the state
Eusebius records that John was exiled in AD 95 during the reign of Domitian
John MacArthur gives us an idea of what John may have been experiencing while exiled
“According to the Roman historian Tacitus, exile to such islands was a common form of punishment in the first century. At about the same time that John was banished to Patmos, Emperor Domitian exiled his own niece, Flavia Domitilla, to another island. Unlike Flavia Domitilla, whose banishment was politically motivated, John was probably sent to Patmos as a criminal (as a Christian, he was a member of an illegal religious sect). If so, the conditions under which he lived would have been harsh. Exhausting labor under the watchful eye (and ready whip) of a Roman overseer, insufficient food and clothing, and having to sleep on the bare ground would have taken their toll on a ninety-year-old man. It was on the bleak, barren island, under those brutal conditions, that John received the most extensive revelation of the future ever given.” [MacArthur cited by Akin, 20]
We know the day this took place
It was the Lord’s Day – by this time it would have been the first day of the week, which represented the day of Jesus’ resurrection (it’s what we refer to as Sunday)
John was in the Spirit this particular Lord’s Day
John was probably worshiping the Lord when he received the revelation
Mounce refers to it as “a state of spiritual exaltation best described as a trance.” [Mounce, The New International Commentary of the New Testament, Revelation, 55]
This same phrase appears in Revelation 4:2; 17:3; and 21:10 and means that John had a vision that was inspired by the Spirit of God [Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary, Revelation, 17]
Two of John’s senses are used while he is in the Spirit – hearing and sight
What John heard
A loud voice like a trumpet
This simile simply helps us understand that when Jesus spoke to John it was clear, unmistakable, and intelligible
John would not have misunderstood what Jesus was telling him to do
The command from the Jesus
John was to write on a scroll everything he was about to see and then send it to the seven churches
While John mentioned that his letter was written to the seven churches in the province of Asia (Rev. 1:4), we now know the specific churches we was talking about (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea)
In verses 12-16 we see that John uses his sense of sight
Characteristics of Christ (vv. 12-16, 20)
John turned around to see who was speaking to him and he saw several things
Seven golden lampstands (vv. 12, 20)
The first thing that John identifies when he turns around are seven golden lampstands
We don’t have to wonder what the seven golden lampstands represent, because Jesus reveals the mystery as we see in the second half of v. 20 – they represent the seven churches in the province of Asia Minor to whom John is writing
The imagery of the lampstands are significant
The lampstand was designed to be placed in the center of a room in the 1st Century and a lamp or lamps were placed on them so that it would give light to the entire room
The imagery of the churches being represented as lampstands is a representation of their function within the various cities – they were to be shining lights in the dark and evil world
Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
As a body of believers, who are followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be shining lights in our dark and evil world
Are we doing that?
Yes! (Upper Adams Food Pantry; Gettysburg Soup Kitchen; Ronald McDonald House; Service projects; Hallelujah Party; Children’s Easter Breakfast; etc.)
Can we improve? Yes!
Show Video – Becoming a Welcoming Church, Book Trailer
It’s more than just serving and being welcoming
It is also sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with those in our sphere of influence
The women’s Bible study is currently going through the curriculum, Tell Someone, by Greg Laurie that provides the Biblical background and urgency with which we should be sharing the Gospel
My Next Step Today Is To: Commit to share the Gospel with one person this week.
There are many resources available to share the Gospel with someone – we have some tracts available in the foyer today for you to take and use
Before we look at how John describes the characteristics of Jesus, we see that Jesus is standing among the lampstands
We don’t want to miss this very important aspect of what John saw
After Jesus’ resurrection, we know that He ascended to heaven and is sitting at the right hand of God, but as He is unveiled here in Revelation, we seem Him standing among the churches who are experiencing persecution
He is right there with them caring for them
“When John says he saw Christ in the midst of the lampstands, he wants to let us know that Christ is not an absentee landlord. On the contrary, he is in the midst of his churches supporting them during trials and persecutions.” [Metzger cited by Osborne, 87]
That’s a wonderful image of what Jesus is still doing in His churches
We can have comfort in the fact that Jesus is right here with us caring for us and supporting us when we experience trials and persecutions
Hebrews 13:5b-6, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
John now uses incredible word pictures to describe the characteristics of the risen Christ
Vision of Jesus
We see Jesus unveiled here as John writes down what He saw
He was putting into human terms the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ
He was also identifying multiple characteristics of Jesus Christ that revealed His authority as the Son of God
Long robe and golden sash
Most scholars see the long robe and golden sash as representing Jesus as our High Priest
Exodus 28:4, These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests.
The Greek word used for long robe is only found in this verse in the New Testament, but it is found seven times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX) – six of the seven references refer to the attire of the high priest [Mounce, 58]
We know that Jesus functions in the role of our high priest
Hebrews 4:14-16, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The long robe and sash were also worn by dignitaries and rulers
This imagery of Jesus also fits with who He is
Revelation 1:5 refers to Jesus as the ruler of the kings of the earth
Revelation 19:16, On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
John moves from the clothing to different parts of the body
Hair was white like wool, as white as snow
This imagery is also found in the book of Daniel
Daniel 7:9, “As I looked, ‘thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.
That description is of God the Father, but we see in Revelation that it is attributed to Jesus, which strengthens the idea of the unity between the Father and the Son
The white hair was an indication of Jesus’ wisdom and dignity
Proverbs 16:31, Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.
PRINCIPLE/TRUTH – Jesus is full of wisdom.
This is great news for us, because we can turn to Him in our confusion and when we don’t understand what is going on in our lives
He can provide wisdom for the circumstances we are going through
That wisdom may come from family, friends, coworkers, the Bible, the Holy Spirit while in prayer, pastors, preachers, etc.
John remains looking at Jesus face and focuses on His eyes
Eyes like blazing fire
Daniel also saw a vision of a man with eyes like flaming torches (Daniel 10:6)
The characteristic of Jesus that we see with blazing eyes, is that He sees and perceives everything that is unfolding in humanity
It is a penetrating and divine insight that provides omniscient (all-knowing) intelligence
Nothing is hidden from Jesus
Some children believe their mothers have these kind of eyes – they don’t say she has eyes blazing like fire, but rather eyes in the back of their head (they seem to know everything that’s happening)
Feet like bronze glowing in a furnace
“Since feet in the ancient world portrayed the direction of one’s life, the image here depicts Christ’s life in both its strength or stability and its absolute purity.” [Osborne, 91]
We can know that Jesus is standing strong and He stable – He will not stumble, fall, or waver
Voice like the sound of rushing water
Have you been to Niagara Falls and taken the boat to the edge of the falls?
What was the sound like? (deafening)
Were you able to talk over it?
The imagery here is that Jesus’ voice is powerful – it cannot be ignored
Seven stars in Jesus’ right hand
Throughout Scripture the right hand symbolizes power, authority, and honor
The idea that Jesus is holding the seven stars in His hand represents two things
He has acquired or taken possession of those seven stars
It also has the idea that Jesus is keeping, preserving, and protecting those seven stars
It reminds us of what Jesus said as He compared His followers to sheep
John 10:27-28, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
We don’t have to guess what the stars represent, because Jesus explains it in verse 20
The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches
The Greek word used is angelos and can be interpreted as angel or messenger
I don’t want us to get caught up in trying to determine whether or not it is an actual angel or a pastor/leader within each church
Mounce believes it “was a way of personifying the prevailing spirit of the church.” [Mounce, 63]
Either way, Jesus is holding them and protecting them in their role
Sharp double-edged sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth
The sword that is represented by this imagery is a long sword used for battle and not a dagger
What we understand from this is that Jesus has the authority to judge
“In His judgments He is perfect (v. 16) . . . The sword is the Word of God, divine in judgment, power, and authority. It both cuts and cures, hurts and heals.” [Akin, 24]
Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Face like the sun shining in all its brilliance
This wasn’t the first time that John had seen Jesus’ face like this
At the transfiguration in Matthew 17:2, John saw Jesus’ face shining like the sun
This represents Jesus’ brilliance, glory, holiness, and majesty
This is Jesus in all of His divine glory
We see Jesus unveiled as the divine authority, who has infinite wisdom, perceives everything, is strong and stable, cannot be ignored, is a powerful protector, and who judges correctly
When we recognize those characteristics in Jesus there is only one response
Power of Christ (v. 17-20)
John’s correct response to seeing Christ
He fell down at Jesus’ feet as though he was dead
That should be our response when we truly recognize who Jesus is and the power and authority He possesses over all humanity
Jesus touches John with that powerful right hand and tells him to stop being afraid
Jesus explains why John doesn’t need to be afraid (Easley outlines it very well)
He has power over time (I am the First and the Last)
Jesus was there at creation, He is here now, He will be there at the end of time, and He will be in eternity
Jesus is eternal
He has power over life (I am the Living One)
This is a powerful description of Jesus that separates Him from every other spiritual leader
“In the OT the title is in antithesis to the idols/pagan gods that have no life or power.” [Osborne, 95]
In the pagan temples in the ancient near-east they had priests who would go in each morning and dress the idols and prepare food for them, because they were incapable of doing it themselves (they were not alive). They would prepare them for bed in the evening
Jesus is alive! God restored life to Him at His resurrection
He has power over sin (I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!)
Romans 3:10-12, As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.
Our sin separates us from God (Rom. 6:23)
God had a plan from the start (Rom. 5:8)
Jesus lived a sinless life and then willingly gave His life for ours – He took our place on the cross (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
God accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice and allowed Him to come alive again winning over sin and death
2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
It is by believing in Jesus and receiving Him into our lives that we become the righteousness of God
Through the blood of Jesus Christ, God sees us as righteous – without sin
My Next Step Today Is To: Claim the righteousness of God by believing in Jesus and receiving Him as my sin substitute.
He has power over death (And I hold the keys of death and Hades)
“In ancient palaces, the one who held the keys was an important official, able to admit or shut out people from the king’s presence.” [Keener, 97]
The person who holds the keys is the one who has power and authority over those things
Jesus has power and authority over death and the grave (the place of all the dead)
Jesus is all-powerful!
Jesus’ victory guarantees a fear-free future.
Jesus commands John to write a couple of things down
Outline for the rest of the book
Most scholars see verse 19 as an outline for the entire book of Revelation
There is debate over whether it has two or three points
The majority of commentators see three distinct parts
What you have seen is referring to all of chapter 1, including John’s vision of Jesus in His divine glory
What is now is referring to chapters 2-3 and the seven churches in Asia Minor
What will take place later is referencing all of chapters 4-22
This is certainly a viable outline
Mounce posits that the first statement is the essential one and the two relative clauses develop the essential one
So the verse could be translated this way, “Write, therefore, the things you are about to see, that is, both what now is and what lies yet in the future.” [Mounce, 62]
For us in the 21st Century this helps us think about what is happening right now and what is still to come in the final eschatology
When we realize who Jesus is, our response should be to fall down at His feet
I want to give you that opportunity today
Perhaps you’re going through some difficulty or suffering right now and you need to trust God to give you the strength to patiently endure – the altar is open for you today to fall down at the feet of Jesus
Maybe you need the strength to share the Gospel with one person this week and you need to be reminded of the urgency of doing that and the transformation that Jesus provided for you when you turned to Him – the altar is open for you today
We saw through the vision that John had that Jesus is unveiled as the divine authority, who has infinite wisdom, perceives everything, is strong and stable, cannot be ignored, is a powerful protector, and judges correctly – when we think about those characteristics our only response is to fall down at Jesus feet, so that may be your response of praise to God today – the altar is open for you
Maybe you realize for the first time that you need to claim the righteousness of God for yourself by believing and receiving Jesus as your sin substitute – your act of submission to Jesus today is to fall at His feet – the altar is open for you