Summary: Jesus displays His presence and power so that we may be accountable to Him when temptations beset us and assured by Him when trials besiege us.
The Book of Revelation was given by the Father to Jesus, who presented it through the Apostle John “to show to his servants the things that must soon take place” (Rev. 1:1). The prophecy was written in the mid-90s by John on the island of Patmos, where he was in exile “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (1:9). The book as a whole is a vision of God’s triumph over evil and the establishment of His eternal Kingdom.
Our passage for today comes from chapter 1, and in it we see how Jesus presents Himself to John--but not only to John, to us as well. He displays His presence and power so that we may be accountable to Him when temptations beset us and assured by Him when trials besiege us.
I Jesus Is Present (Rev. 1:9-11)
A. In Our Witness to Him (v. 9)
“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
John, the youngest of the original twelve apostles and now a man of advanced years, is the human author of the Book of Revelation. An elder in the church at Ephesus, he has been exiled to the island of Patmos “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” In other words, he is being persecuted, along with others, for his witness to Christ in the gospel.
Jesus warned of this. John himself recorded Jesus’ words the night before His death, when He said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you’” (John 15:18-20).
Many of our sisters and brothers are persecuted even in our own time. Voice of the Martyrs reports, for example, the experience of a young man named Philip, who lives in Laos. Philip walked two hours to another village to hear the gospel. Just three weeks after he returned home as a new believer, the police paid him a visit. They told him that any religion other than Buddhism was strictly forbidden in the region where he lived. They accused him of embracing the faith of foreigners and warned him that things were sure to go badly for him. Sometime later, the authorities pressed him to sign a document renouncing his newfound faith. He refused, and, before long, his neighbors, incited by the local government, killed his livestock and harassed his children. Philip and his family had to move to another village. Asked why he remained a Christian when it caused him such difficulty, he said, “My people are in darkness, worshiping they-know-not-what, and they are enslaved in their sin. I must tell them about Jesus, the only one who can save them from the destruction that awaits them.” Others, like Philip, have suffered the loss of their jobs and their property. Some have been rejected by their family and friends. And many have been murdered for their faith in Christ.
We may not experience persecution to this extreme—although even in our own country, our witness to Christ may lead others to withdraw from us—but whether we experience the cost of living for Christ personally or not, we can be aware of the affliction others endure and pray for them, especially that they would be possessed of the “patient endurance” of which John speaks in verse 9.
We can “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3, NKJV), knowing that He is with us as He promised. “Behold,” He said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
B. In Our Worship of Him (vv. 10-11)
Jesus is also with us in our worship. John found this to be so. He writes, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
It was “the Lord’s day,” or Sunday, the first day of the week. Since the Lord rose from the dead on that day, Sunday has become the day Christians gather for worship. Some—like John in this instance—are not in a position to gather with others. Still, they will want to do as John did and set aside time to worship on that day.