Summary: A message on the appearance of Jesus on Patmos to the Apostle John. He showed John and His suffering people that he was not only with them but just as He had conquered all that Rome threw at Him, so would He lead them to conquer in the end.
BIBLE MESSAGES ON EASTER
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Annual Sermons: Vol. 3 Sermon 11
Bob Marcaurelle Rev. 1:9-20
THE APPEARANCE TO JOHN ON PATMOS
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When we study the Bible, we study ourselves. These first century Christians who received the Book of Revelation from the Apostle John were very much like us. They had never seen the Lord face to face. They had heard of Him through the preaching of the gospel and responded by receiving Him as Savior and Lord. And then, like us, they learned that this did not mean that God would build a wall of protection around them and grant them immunity from the storms of life.
In fact, the opposite seemed true, for their religion had brought them trouble. Their stand for Jesus was causing them to be bathed in a blood-bath of martyr¬dom at the hands of Imperial Rome. When John wrote this book he was a prisoner on the Island of Patmos.
His people, the Christians on the continent, were being brutally tortured and murdered for their faith. John wrote during terrible times. He wrote against a background of blood, persecution, death, toil and tears as the iron hand of Rome sought to crush the Christian faith. The church met in secret. They met in the shadows of the catacombs, in the under¬ground sewers, in the darkness of night.
John’s heart went out to his people as they met in fear and many were tempted to doubt the faith they held and the Jesus Whom they had trusted. So John took pen in hand and wrote them a message of hope and faith and victory.
The entire book of Revelation spells out the ultimate victory of the Kingdom of God, and here in chapter one, in this portrait of Jesus Christ, we have one vital part of this hope. John tells the people that the Jesus Christ Whom you trust, the Jesus Christ to Whom you have given your all, the Jesus Christ for Whom you may have to die, is the living Lord of Heaven.
This was no new truth but an old one. Yet old truth becomes dear truth when it is personally applied. John was only reminding them of what they already knew in order to give them a firmer hold upon it. The Jesus of history is the Lord of Heaven.
Isaiah had said this hundreds of years before. He wrote in a similar context, as Chapters 40-66 of his book were written during the exile of Israel. The people had been dragged from their homeland and waited for the deliverance of God. Isaiah said in these chapters, “God is sending someone. He will be a Lamb led to the slaughter. He will die for the sins of His people. By His stripes we shall be healed.” (See Ch. 52-53.)
And how did Isaiah introduce this suffering figure? With three pointed words, “Behold your God!” (Is. 40:10). There is the truth: The Savior of Israel is to be God Himself come down to man. Paul said the same thing. Writing from prison he spoke of Jesus “Who existing in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, emptied Himself. . .being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2). Jesus Christ in spite of our circumstances is the Lord of Glory.
This was the message that John wanted to deliver to his people. But he faced a difficult problem. If he wrote about Jesus Christ and like Isaiah, simply said, “Behold your God!”, he would bring down Imperial persecution both upon himself and his readers, because to affirm that “Jesus is Lord” brought suffer¬ing and death. So John chose to present his truth in a special kind of literature which used symbols and visions. This, although perfectly clear to his readers, would be unintelligible to the Roman authorities.
In their hour of desperation he pointed them to Jesus. In verse thirteen he says, “I saw. . .one like A SON OF MAN.” If you turn to the Gospels then you will find that this is Jesus’ favorite title for Himself. Then in verse eighteen John describes Him as one “who was dead and is alive forevermore.” Once this was done, John then drives home the central message of hope and comfort.
The truth that this same Jesus is now the resurrected living Lord of heaven. He is on the throne, not Caesar. He proclaims the deity of Jesus Christ by describing Him with Old Testament terms and phrases which were used for God Himself. To the Roman authorities, these were just mysterious phrases, but to Christians, whose Bible was the Old Testament, this was an affirmation of Deity and Lordship.
With every stroke of his pen John clothes the Lord Jesus Christ with the royal robes of God. “His head and hair were white, as white wool, like snow.” (In Daniel 7:9 that is a description of God’s voice.) “He had seven stars in His hand.” (Passages like Job 38:31 show us that the Old Testament as¬cribed the control of the stars to God.) “I am the first and the last,” said Jesus Christ in John’s picture. Now listen to Isaiah 44:6, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer the Lord of hosts, I am the first and the last and besides me there is no god.”