Revelation: A vision of Jesus (Revelation 1:9-20)

This is one of the most intriguing passages of scripture in all of the Bible. The apostle John sees Jesus in a way that he has never seen Him before. There are also some great principles that we learn from this vision that John had.

What John Heard: The principle of authority. Revelation 1:9-11 says, 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. 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.” [1]John addresses his readers has his companion. He mentions how he shares with them in tribulation. This is not a reference to the seven years of tribulation, rather, to suffering for Christ. Every believer in Christ suffers persecution in one way or another. Some suffer more greatly than others, but all suffer in some way. This suffering takes place while we wait for the kingdom of God. John’s suffering was far greater than perhaps many of us suffer today. John was placed in exile on the island of Patmos. He was put in exile due to his preaching of the Gospel. It is interesting to note that though man intended it for evil, God meant it for good. God used the persecution that John endured to bring him to a place where the Revelation of Jesus Christ could be given to him. It was on the Lord’s Day that John was in the Spirit. He was in a state of worship before God. At the right moment, when John’s heart was in tune with God, that he heard a great voice. It was a voice like none other ha had ever heard. John describes the voice of being like the sound of a trumpet. Basically, it was a loud and thunderous voice, a voice of authority. As soon as the voice spoke to John, he knew who it was. The voice identifies Himself to John as the ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.’ In that moment, John knew that it was the voice of Jesus. However, it was a different than before. When John walked with Jesus on the earth, Jesus had a voice like as a humble servant. Now, John hears Jesus speaking with a voice as a conquering king. Jesus gives John the command to write in a book all that he sees and give it to the seven churches which are in Asia. There are a few principles that we learn in these verses. 1. Suffering comes before glory. John endured persecution before he could partake in God’s kingdom. Jesus suffered on the cross before He rose in power and might and authority. You and I are not exempt from suffering either. “All those who live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” When we do suffer, we must not lose heart. When we suffer, we are joining the ranks of Peter, Paul, John, and even Jesus. It is a privilege to suffer for Christ. When we suffer, we must keep our eyes on the hope that is before us. One day, we will also rise with authority and we will rule and reign with Christ. 2. Speak with authority. John heard Jesus speak with authority. He listened carefully to what Jesus had to say because of who He was. As believer’s, we have authority in the name of Jesus. We should not shy away or be ashamed. We should boldly, with great confidence, speak the things concerning Jesus to the world. When we speak the name of Jesus, demons must flee. When we speak the name of Jesus, things change. If you are born again, you are a child of the King. You are an ambassador of Jesus Christ on this earth. You have all authority in the name of Jesus. Don’t be afraid to speak His name. Don’t be afraid to use the authority that you have. When you speak with authority, people will listen, just as John listened to what Jesus had to say.

What John saw: The principle of light. Revelation 1:12-16 says, “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.”[2]John saw a vision of the glorified Christ. What a wonderful experience! This vision of Jesus should not be taken too literally. It was a literal vision, no doubt. John did see Jesus. However, John uses symbolism to describe who Jesus is and the message that Jesus was giving to him. John saw ‘seven golden lampstands’. These lampstands represent the seven churches to whom John is writing to. He sees Jesus clothed in the garments of a judge and king. This shows the authority and honor of Christ. He also sees Jesus with hair that is ‘white like wool, as white as snow.’ This refers to the fact that Jesus is eternal. He always has been and He always will be. He is the ‘ancient of days’ as described in Daniel 7:9. The eyes of Jesus were like a ‘flame of fire’. Jesus is the all seeing God. He sees all things. This enables Him to judge righteously. ‘His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace.’ This is symbol for judgment. Jesus had come to judge the churches and also to judge the world. The voice of Jesus is described as the sound of ‘many waters.’ This refers to His power and authority. His voice must be heard, for He speaks the Word of God, which is described by the sharp sword coming out of His mouth. The sword is an offensive weapon. Jesus fights His enemies with His Word. John describes Jesus as ‘like the sun shining in strength’. “The Lord’s shining countenance reminds us of His transfiguration (Matt. 17:2) and also the prophecy of Malachi 4:2 (“the Sun of righteousness [shall] arise”). The sun is a familiar image of God in the Old Testament (Ps. 84:11), reminding us not only of blessing, but of judgment. The sun can burn as well as bless!”[3] The seven stars in His right hand and the seven golden lampstands are explained in verse 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.” [4] These angels can be understood either as literal angels or the pastor’s of the churches. The term ‘angel’ simply means ‘messenger.’ I personally would agree with both views here. I believe that every local church and community has an angel watching over them. The angel is there to provide protection from the opposing demonic forces that seek to destroy the cause of Christ. I also believe that a pastor is one who is sent by God, placed in the local church where God has sent Him, and He is God’s representative or messenger to the people of the local church. As a pastor, this is a very humbling and even frightening thought. There are two principles we see here that apply to us today. 1. As a church, we are to be the light of the world. It is the responsibility of the local church to bring the light of God’s love to its community. We are to shine as a bright light. The local church is to be in a prominent position in the community. The local church should be well known in its community. We should not just keep to ourselves and stay behind the four walls of our building. We should not just simply enjoy our sweet fellowship and care only for those who are in our fold. Instead, we are to be involved in our community in such a way that everyone knows who we are and what we believe and that we care for them and love them. 2. As a church, we must take heed to what is preached. John describes Jesus with a two-edged sword coming forth from His mouth. This is obviously a reference to the Word of God. Notice what Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”[5]God’s Word is a powerful thing. It brings conviction and change. God’s Word is given to His messengers to be taught to each local church body. This Word from God is given to the messengers and then passed on to the people. This does not mean that we should not study God’s Word for ourselves, because we most definitely should, however, we also have a responsibility to respond to the preaching and teaching of the Word. We are to test the preaching with the Word of God. However, if what is being preached and taught is backed up by scripture, we must obey it. It is for our good that we obey it. I know that as a pastor, there have been times when people have been upset with me over things that I may preach. When that happens, I am always quick to apologize for personally offending them, however, I also remind them that I cannot and will not apologize for God’s Word. I have a responsibility to preach what God gives me. I do not look out at my congregation and think to myself what it is they need or want to hear. I simply preach the Bible. I preach the text that is before us and I allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. I understand that this is not popular in our day and I have taken much heat over it to the point that it has been a heavy and hurtful burden. However, I can only preach what God gives me in His Word. I am just the messenger. I did not write the book, God did. Therefore, all of us have a responsibility to take heed when the Word of God is preached.

What John did: the principle of worship. Revelation 1:17-18 says, “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.” [6]When John saw Jesus, he fell at His feet. John, no doubt, was overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus. He felt unworthy. His response was to simply bow before Him in worship. Jesus assures John of who He is and tells him to not be afraid. How do we respond when we are in the presence of Jesus? How do we respond when we are given His Word? If our heart is in the right place, our response will always be to worship Him. The closer I get to Jesus, the more unworthy I feel. The closer I get to Jesus, the more I realize how terrible my sin is. The closer I get to Jesus, the more I am compelled to serve Him. The closer I get to Jesus, the more grateful I am for Him. The closer I get to Jesus, the more I desire Him. The closer I get to Jesus, the more I love Him.

What John was commanded: the principle of obedience. Revelation 1:19 says, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” [7]Jesus gave John a job to do. He told him to write all that he saw what will take place in the future. Imagine the weight on John’s shoulders. Imagine the responsibility he must have felt. John’s job was to simply write what Jesus told him to write. You and I have the same responsibility. We must write our life story exactly how Jesus planned for us to write it. As believer’s, we must live exactly how He wants us to live. Understanding and knowing the greatness of Jesus should give us an overwhelming desire to please Him. We should obey Him because we love Him. We should obey Him because we are thankful for all He has done.

John saw Jesus. Have you seen Jesus? Have you seen Him with spiritual eyes? Do you know Him in a personal way? If so, do you obey His Word? Are you writing the story of your life the way Jesus planned for you to write?

[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 1:9–11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 1:12–16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Re 1:9). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 1:20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] The New King James Version. (1982). (Heb 4:12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 1:17–18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 1:19). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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