Summary: What Is Jesus Doing Now? He is watching over us, ruling for us, and speaking to us.
I’m not a fan of reality T.V. but one new reality show caught my interest as I was channel surfing the other day. I don’t remember the name of the show but it featured former pop stars like M.C. Hammer. The show brought together once-famous people to interact with one another for ten days in a house. The show caught my interest because I was curious to see what the likes of M.C. Hammer are up to these days. Hammer, of course, is no longer in the music industry; he’s an ordained minister.
As we come down from another Easter-induced spiritual high we may wonder what Jesus is doing now. Doesn’t it sometimes seem as if he too has faded into obscurity since his resurrection and ascension two thousand years ago? It may seem that way but our text reassures us that, right now, Jesus is watching over us, ruling for us, and even speaking to us.
When he was about eighty years old, the Apostle John too may have wondered what Jesus was doing. Sixty years of hardship had passed since Jesus’ resurrection. Sure the Church had grown tremendously but it had done so at a cost. Jesus’ original disciples had been martyred one by one 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 later the spokesman of the disciples, Peter, was crucified upside down by the emperor Nero. John was now the last of the original Twelve and things hadn’t been easy for him either as he had been exiled to the island of Patmos for his faith. The congregations he had left behind on the mainland of present day Turkey were suffering too. The pastor at the church in Pergamum, Antipas, had been martyred when his attackers threw him in a red-hot bronze ox. Yes indeed, what was Jesus doing while his people suffered? John received an answer to that question when Jesus appeared to him on the island of Patmos. John reports the encounter like this: “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…(He said,) ‘I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!’” (Rev. 1:12-16, 18a)
Jesus appeared to assure John that he hadn’t forgotten about his people. He communicated that by standing among seven golden lampstands. At the end of the chapter Jesus explains that the lampstands represent the seven churches to whom John was to write (Rev. 1:20). The churches are compared to lampstands because Christians are to be a light to the world. The lampstands were golden to show how precious congregations are to Jesus. The fact that Jesus stood among the lampstands meant that he was keeping his promise to be with believers to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). So what is Jesus doing now? He watches over us by standing in our midst!
Because Jesus is in our midst he knows what’s going on in our congregation and in our lives. For example Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, “2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (Rev. 2:2-4).
Isn’t it scary to think that Jesus knows everything we say, everything we do, and what we really think of others? While we can hide our sins from one another we can’t hide them from Jesus. His blazing eyes (Rev. 1:14b) see everything. Of course the fact that Jesus stands in our midst is also comforting. John said of Jesus, “(he) loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5b). Imagine how thankful you would be to someone who freed you from a lead weight that was fastened to your leg and dragging you under the water to a certain death. Jesus’ blood frees us from the weight of sin, which would have dragged us down to hell. Because of that rescue Jesus promised the Ephesian Christians: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7b).