Summary: Backstage With Jesus 1) Marvel at the King of kings 2) Magnify the Friend of sinners
For hundreds of dollars extra, you can buy yourself a backstage pass to meet your favorite musician next time she comes to town. There’s a growing market for these “all access” passes. Before the concert, while the rest of the audience is jostling to get in, you’ll be hanging out with the star of the show nibbling on refreshments and talking to her about her musical influences. What will strike you is just how ordinary the celebrity is when seen up close. Her makeup won’t hide the bags under her eyes and she’ll seem much shorter than you imagined her to be. When it’s time to find your seat for the concert, you might get a parting handshake or even a hug, but you shouldn’t take that to mean that you and the star are now friends! No, if you want to see her that close again, you’ll have to buy another backstage pass.
You didn’t have to purchase a ticket to get in here this morning and so you may not be expecting a whole lot. Well, you’re in for a treat. Today we’re going to go backstage with Jesus! Unlike most backstage encounters this view of Jesus is much more glorious than what we are used to. It’s my prayer that by the end of the sermon you’ll indeed marvel at the King of kings, and magnify the Friend of sinners.
Our guide on this backstage tour is John, one of the Twelve Disciples of Jesus. John of course was quite familiar with Jesus. He had followed him around for three years before Jesus ascended into heaven. And yet he never quite saw the Savior the way he did many years later when exiled on the Greek island of Patmos. John tells us that one Sunday he heard a voice behind him speaking loudly like a trumpet attacking the opening notes of a fanfare. I’ll let John pick up the true story from here. “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:12-16).
When fans meet the star of the show before the concert, they usually see a calmer, more normal looking person than what they see on stage or on TV. Heavy metal rockers, for example, won’t wear their theatrical makeup for the meet and greet. With Jesus it’s just the opposite. Throughout his earthly ministry he looked quite ordinary. Roman soldiers were amused in fact when they were told that Jesus was the king of the Jews. Why, he didn’t even have a crown! So why not give him one…made out of thorns! But the Jesus that John now saw was quite different. No longer was he dressed in the strips of rags he had been crucified in. No longer was his hair matted with dry blood. Instead he wore a white robe with a golden sash, and his hair, his head, and his face shone like the sun.
How encouraging this sight must have been to John, for 60 years had passed since he had seen Jesus and by then it didn’t seem like Christianity was going to last another 6 years. All the other original disciples had already been martyred for their faith. John’s brother, James, had been the first to go. He was beheaded by Herod Agrippa just ten years after Jesus’ resurrection. Twenty years after that the spokesman of the disciples, Peter, was crucified upside down by the emperor Nero. Now John himself had been exiled and banished from the congregations he loved, and their leaders were facing persecution and death. Pastor Antipas from Pergamum, for example, had reportedly been burned to death in a red-hot bronze ox. And yet here now was Jesus shining with the brilliance of an equatorial noon-day sun, not glowing feebly like the setting November sun in Edmonton as if Jesus was some “has-been.” He was indeed the “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5b). It was not the Roman emperor who called the shots but the King of kings. It’s still the same today. It’s not dictators and terrorists who call the shots in this world but Jesus.
Well if Jesus was so awesome, why wasn’t he doing something to support his Church? He was. Jesus communicated that truth by appearing to John while standing among seven golden lampstands. At the end of the chapter (Revelation 1:20) Jesus explained that the lampstands represented the seven churches to whom John was to write. The lampstands were made out of gold, not plastic because every Christian congregation, every gathering of believers is precious to Jesus. That’s also why Jesus was walking in their midst and not sitting poolside in heaven as if he didn’t care about those congregations.