Summary: It is time to trade in our childish view of Jesus, meek and mild, for the adult vision of Jesus the conquering King.
The last book of the Bible, called the Revelation of Jesus Christ, is a beautiful and dangerous book. It always has been. It still is.
The original author was Jesus’ closest earthly friend and perhaps one of his cousins. His name was John and the visions recorded in this book are truly awesome. The first audience for this Revelation were tired, discouraged, persecuted Christians. The Roman Empire was attempting to destroy all of Jesus’ followers. The purpose of John’s book was to unveil the power and authority of Jesus Christ – to inspire and encourage perseverance in those Christians. The Roman Empire collapsed and the church continued to grow.
This book of Revelation is a beautiful and dangerous book. It still uncovers the reality of Jesus and his work in, through and for his followers. It is dangerous to preach from this book. Nothing can divide churches than fights over prophecies. It is beautiful because merely reading, hearing and taking it to heart will open our lives to God’s blessing.
The opening verses proclaim the promise. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. And Jesus echoes that promise in the closing chapter. “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the prophecy written in this book.” Prepare to receive a blessing!
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw -- that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father -- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.
So shall it be! Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 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. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 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.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
What could we learn about Jesus from this book that we didn’t learn as children?
Author Philip Yancey made this observation our tendency to make Jesus safe and friendly.
When [a Catholic] missionary … went to China in the sixteenth century, he brought along samples of religious art to illustrate the Christian story for people who had never heard it. The Chinese readily adopted portraits of the Virgin Mary holding her child, but when he produced paintings of the crucifixion and tried to explain that the God-child had grown up only to be executed, the audience reacted with revulsion and horror. They much preferred the Virgin and insisted on worshiping her rather than the crucified God.