How big is our image of our God?
Do we perceive Jesus Christ as just the Good Teacher who walked the shores of Galilee, the One who heals and delivers and meets our needs?
What happens when our needs aren’t met? How do we worship Lord Jesus from difficult places? When our landscape is swamped with sorrows, fraught with tension and tossed by global upheaval, when hope is deferred, how do we worship Jesus with hearts full of faith?
Apostle John knew much about suffering. His own brother, James, was beheaded by Herod for his faith. All of the disciples but John were martyred for their faith over the decades of the Early Church. Yet John was consistently known not for his bitterness or fear, but for his love. He was known as the apostle whom the Lord loved. His letters reflect a steady theme of God the Father’s great love for His kids through Jesus Christ.
There are legends told about this Apostle John, that when he was tossed into a vat of oil to be burned alive at Rome’s command, he just wouldn’t cook. In fury, Caesar ordered John to exile on the island Patmos, a barren rock patch in the middle of the Aegean Sea. At the time of the exile, the Church was suffering great persecution from Rome all across Asia. Yet here was John, still worshiping in the Spirit on that lonely rocky island, when Jesus appeared to John in a whole new way:
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength(Rev 1:12-17 NKJV).
Revelations is a powerful and mysterious book filled with startling imagery, symbolic metaphors and real-time depictions of the last days, with Jesus Christ as the hero of mankind. Like an expansive picture book, Christ Jesus is revealed as the Man of power, the Prototype, the Last Man Standing in all of history and the Conquering Victor for the Church to reverence.
As John carefully scribed the Lord dictation Jesus revealed Himself in new dimensions or revelation to His hurting broken Church. Consider what Christ is declaring about Himself in His own words to the Church:
To Ephesus, Jesus described Himself as “He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands”(2:1). No ordinary man, Jesus stands as One who treads, walks in and operates in the seven spirits, in the full counsel of God. Jesus literally holds the Church in His hand with all the wisdom of God.
To Smyrna, Christ reveals Himself as the Foremost, the Farthest and the Resurrected One, ‘the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life”(2:8). Here stands The Prototype of humanity, the Sinless One who defeated death, the last Word for all of history.
To the church in Pergamos, Jesus introduces Himself as “He who has the sharp two-edged sword”(2:12), the very Word of God, the Warrior who wars with Truth and wins. We worship the Conquering King who wars with Truth.
To Thyatira, Jesus proclaims He is “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass”(2:18). Jesus rules as the Son of God with immeasurable power, holiness and strength. Passionate, powerful, all-consuming, Christ is large, expansive and mighty.
To the church in Sardis, Christ announces Himself as “He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars”(3:1). Isaiah 11:2 states ”The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord”(NKJV). The Lord is full of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge. Christ is mighty in Spirit and power. He easily carries the Church and Her outcomes in His hand.
To the church in Philadelphia, Christ broadcasts that He is “He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” ( 3:7) Here is Christ’s authority; He is holy and true. As the eternal King, what He releases, stays free forever and what He closes, remains closed forever. No man, not even one, can mess with what Christ decrees as the King of all the kinds of the earth.
To the church of Laodicea, Christ pronounces that He is “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God” (3:14). The Absolutely True, Faithful, Reliable Witness is the Cornerstone of all formations of God. Everything begins and ends in Christ. Christ speaks with sure words to His Church and continues to speak today: You can count on Me. Trust Me, I’ve got this.
To John, to the broken persecuted churches of Asia, and to us today, Jesus Christ of Fire in love came down. Christ reveals Himself in Revelations as our mighty King, worthy of our confidence and faith. Heaven’s perspective gave John courage and offers us the same strength. May we may worship Christ in spirit and in truth. May trust His Word until our Conquering King comes again.
All of heaven cries “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”(Rev 5:12)
May we all encounter Jesus Christ of Fire! May the revelations of our Christ of Fire vanquish our sense of powerlessness and inflame our passion for God Almighty!
May our prayer lives will catch fire by the greatness of our God. May we fear making a small God of our own image and worship the One revealed by His Word in all His majesty, power and glory for the sake of His Name. Amen!