Revelation Chapter 1: 12-19
“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.
“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. 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. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
Over the past few years, a lot of books and movies have come out to tell us about dying, going to heaven and seeing Jesus. Many of these books have been best sellers, making the author millions of dollars. Now, making money is not in and of itself wrong. But we have to look at the Bible and the absolute source of truth to make sure that these books line up with the Bible. Today we will see John’s vision of Jesus in His glory in Revelation Chapter 1: 12-19
It had been some time since he had seen Jesus in His glory; more than 60 years had passed since John had seen Jesus glorified. We find the account in Luke 9:28-29. Jesus was glorified before three of His apostles, John included; and he was very bright and was compared to a flash of lightning. Now, a long time later, John is about to see Jesus in a way that He really had not seen Him before; and this time he would have more time to observe the King of kings.
What we are about to see is the Living God, and He is going to give John a tour of the future that would happen about 2,000 years after John was already gone.
Seven Golden Lampstands – Revelation 1 verses 12-13
I did some research on this, and there are some conflicting opinions on what John saw. Some think he saw seven individual lampstands, and others think that it looked like the lamp that stood in the Temple. I will stick with the latter as the lampstand that is first mentioned in the scriptures is that of the one in the Temple.
It was a lampstand with 7 arms sticking out; we call it a Menorah. This was a picture of the light that the Gospel brought even in the Old Testament. From the very beginning, the Light was designed to point us to Jesus. He is the Light of the world, the Light of the churches down through the ages, the Light of the Gospel and the Light of the future. The Old Testament symbols all spoke of Jesus; and here we see Jesus in the midst of the Lampstand, and He is radiant and glorious.
All too often today we have taken the glory away from the Lord. We have ‘dulled’ him, making Him more man that God. He is both. But He is the Living God, and all too often we make Him out to be a bosom buddy and not the Almighty Creator that He is. Notice in verse 17 that John, upon observing the Lord in His glory, “fell at His feet as dead.” The same John who was Jesus’ best friend, the one to whom He entrusted the care of His mother, the one who had seen Him transfigured still fell down as ‘dead’ at the sight of His glory.
The Lord’s churches need to get back to preaching about the awe and glory of our Lord and Saviour. He is the Light; His glory as the Living, Holy and Omniscient God is the luster that the world is looking for. He needs for us to lift Him up for the world to see. But instead we have put ourselves up, we have elevated ourselves above our status as unholy, wretched, lost, rotten sinners; and in doing so we have stolen His glory as the spotless and perfect Lamb of God. Yes, we are that bad; and YES, He is that good.
The world needs us, the Lord’s churches, to be true Lights and point to the source of our Light—Jesus, and Him alone. In contrast, the world needs to know how bad we/they really are and that He had to be stained with our filth so as to save us. Oh, that we would all see the Lord “high and lifted up!” (Isaiah 6:1).
His hair; His clothes; His feet; His voice; and His face – Revelation 1 verses 14-16
John still recognized Him as the “Son of Man” (verse 13). Jesus still looked like Jesus but in a glorified state. The Bible tells us that “we shall see Him as He is” and be like Him. In our new bodies, we will still be us, only way better and sinless. John had spent the better part of 3.5 years traveling with Jesus, and they were earthly friends. Good friends. John’s gospel spends the 21 chapters showing us the Son of Man as the Son of God. Jesus looked like Jesus but in all His glory.
Then we see His purity: hair white as snow and white as wool. In Isaiah 1:18 we see that, in Jesus, we can be white as wool and white as snow. His eyes like flames of fire: fire purifies and cleans as it consumes. Clean things become dirty when they touch dirty stuff. A clean plate is replaced if it is dropped on the floor. A clean plate does not make a dirty floor clean, but the other way around. Jesus is unique in this way in that He is pure and is able to make all the dirty stuff He touches clean.
One of my favorite passages found in Matthew 8 and then in Mark 1 is a passage where Jesus touches a leper and makes him clean. How long had it been since that man had felt the touch of a human hand? He was an outcast made to call out ‘unclean, unclean’ as people came close. But, that day the Son of Man touched him and made him clean. Here we see Jesus’ eyes are like fire; they pierce into the soul and minds of men and see not just the actions but the motives that drive us.
Jesus’ feet were like fine brass, bright, and you just could not take your eyes from them. He was breathtaking and awe-inspiring. His voice was powerful. If you have ever been to Niagara Falls and heard the deafening roar of the water as it hurdles over the falls, you can imagine the sound of Jesus’ voice. John was an experienced fisherman; he had seen his share of sea storms in his life. He knew what the water sounded like when that was all you could hear.
Then Jesus’ mouth was like a two-edged sword – truth, absolute truth. Jesus’ words are Truth all the time. There is not one iota of deceit in His words. We can trust everything the Bible says on all aspects of life; geography; science; history; money; family and lineage. Finally, Jesus’ face is bright; it pierces into your soul and illuminates our sinfulness. It casts away all the shadows, and nothing is hidden from Him. All our secrets are laid bare. His Light is hot and it saps our strength and kills our pride; and we fall at His feet like dead men.
Jesus Touches John – Revelation 1 verse 17
We do not know how long John laid there. But at some point, Jesus touches him and gives him the strength to stand up. “Do not be afraid.” In Jesus, we do not have to be afraid when we see Him. He is our salvation. He is our resurrection and He is our King.
It had been 60+ years since Jesus had touched John; they had been very close for the vast majority of His earthly ministry and even on that night at the Passover before Jesus was arrested. He, John, was one of the two that went to the empty tomb a few days later; he had seen Him as He ascended, and now here he was seeing Him again. Jesus reaches out and touches Him. What will it be like for us to be touched by the outstretched and loving hand of our Saviour? To feel the power; the calm; the love; the care; and the peace that He offers.
Jesus is the God of the resurrection, Revelation 1 verse 18. He is the one who came back from the dead. Jesus is the First and the Last. He is qualified to tell us the future since He has already been there, and He is the final judge. He has the keys to Death and Hell; He is the keeper of both. He will banish both one day, and they will cease to be a scourge on mankind. He then tells John to write the things that he sees.
I remind you that this book of the Bible is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This is what the end of time is for. It is the Revelation of Jesus to Israel and the world. So, it is fitting that we encounter Jesus right in the first chapter in all His glory. We see Him bright and powerful, one who commands respect and one who displays both power and kindness as he touches His friend, John. The whole goal of the book is to reveal Jesus.
When He came the first time, He did so quietly as a baby. He grew up as a poor carpenter. He taught in parables that many could not understand. He was rejected by His own people and looked like a common man. But, the next time no one will miss Him. He will not be required to identify himself or wear a badge. All will know that this is Jesus.
Some of us will have felt His gentle touch as our friend. But many will feel the full force of the Righteous Son of God. They will pump their fists in the air and scream at Him; they will defy God and hate Him; but they will know who He is, and they will not be able to escape His global power.
Jesus’ touch to John calmed his fears, stabilized him and helped him do the job at hand. But to the lost and rebellious world, Jesus’ touch will bring fear, pain and suffering. And they will find no comfort, no peace and no strength. They will be brought begrudgingly to their knees before the King, and they will understand that they are nothing.
Will you meet Jesus and be strengthened, calmed and regarded as a friend? Or will you be brought to your knees forcefully and under the wrath of God? The choice is yours to make. Don’t delay. Today is the day of salvation.