Resurrection Sunday 2020
Text: Revelation 1:9-20
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
John has been exiled, displaced, because of following Jesus Christ.
Patmos was an island known for it’s mining operations; a place of judicial punishment. Since John categorizes ‘tribulation, kingdom, and patience’ as part and parcel of life in Christ, he doesn’t see his life as interrupted.
This reminds us of the apostle Paul saying, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
John was ‘carrying on’ in life and living. We can only do that when we know God and we understand that God knows us, what is going on, and where we are.
AND, it is in those circumstances where people in the Bible, and out of the Bible, have an experience with God that changes their lives. John tells us about one of his own:
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
John is surprised just like Jonah, Mary, Moses, Zachariah, Paul, Joshua…
He is given ministry to do.
Exile, persecution, trouble, interruption, quarantine, none of that stops our calling as ready servants of Jesus Christ.
Note that Jesus doesn’t address the current state of affairs in society, the problems of the present culture, the economic fragility, foreign policy… He also doesn’t refer to anything that is going on personally with John.
John is commissioned by God to minister within the parameters of his situation. John, hears this loud voice command him to “write what you see…”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 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. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 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.
So when John turns around he sees a place and a person.
The place has seven golden lamp stands arranged in such a way that the person that he sees is standing in the middle of them.
This description is consistent with both Daniel and Isaiah’s account of seeing Almighty God in His throne room in Heaven.
The Bible gives us descriptions of the majesty of God to accompany the message.
These are proofs, credentials of power, of eternality, of wisdom, of immensity. These are all possessed by the resurrected Jesus. John finds himself in the presence of the Alpha and the Omega!
But unlike the account of Daniel and Isaiah, the Lord Almighty is not in Heaven—but on Earth. He is not on His celestial throne, outside of space and time, He is here, He is here evaluating, superintending, and directing the church.
What John will be told to write in the following chapters will be the words of Jesus — for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
John is being given direct orders from the Son of Man!
We are told that Blessed are all those who keep the words that John wrote down.
So what happens when John turns to see Jesus?
17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
What does John do? He falls down like he has just had a heart attack.
I know people who have said, “When I get to heaven and see Jesus, I’m going to run up and grab Him and hug His neck!” — I DON’T THINK SO!
Even though this is John the Beloved; “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. This is the disciple who was more physically close to Jesus than anyone else mentioned in scripture including Mary the mother of Jesus. So carefully note the level of fear; the apparent involuntary action of trembling worship.
Now consider the care and assurance of Jesus…and what He says.
As the Alpha & Omega lays His hand upon John, He says, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last, I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
John is experiencing massive assurance that puts his present situation and the world situation in perspective. Only Jesus can do this—and He does it for John—by reaching out and putting His hand upon the trembling disciple.
This is the Sunday that we commemorate Jesus’ Resurrection—and rightly so—but our experience, daily, should be more like John’s experience described here
We are always being watched over, cared for, and instructed.
“So John”, Jesus said, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”
John, give the churches my instructions.
But also describe what you saw—you saw Me.
Tell them how you reacted.
Tell them that I put my hand upon you, and gave you assurance.
Tell them that my intention is still the same—to bless them.
Tell my people that they must keep my words always.
Tell them that I walk in their midst and that they are never alone.
Tell them, John, tell them that, I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.