A blog post on after thoughts on messages, events, or other random thoughts pertaining to following Jesus

P.S. Blog: Seven - Part 2

Revelation is an intimidating book.  

There are a lot of tough passages, a lot of symbolism, and a ton of hard truths.  Culturally, we’re also intimidated with the “I don’t knows” of Scripture; we feel like it's an indictment on the validity of our faith.  But that’s not true...any pastor or theologian who tells you that they have an absolutely complete and total grasp on the book of Revelation, leave their church.  Mainly for lying.

Two Things.

I found two things incredibly interesting as we go through the letters to the churches in Rev. 1-3.  The first is the personal relationship that John has with Jesus and the contrast of Jesus in His glorified state.

John had walked the streets with Jesus for three plus years.  They had done ministry together, run from Pharisees together, fed thousands together, wept together, and, most certainly, laughed together.  

Sixty years later when Jesus appears to John during his exile on Patmos, John can barely stand the sight of Him.  So awesome and so fearful is the sight of his glorified God-friend, that John says “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Rev. 1:17).  The Jesus of the movies has never been adequately portrayed.  Nor can He be, I imagine.

But Jesus meets his regular man-friend John to reassure Him that all is well and to invite Him to be a part of His glorified presence.  John records Jesus’ approach to him in this fearsome moment thusly, “Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid...’” (Rev. 1:17).  The same words He spoke during His earthly ministry, He speaks during His heavenly revelation.  Don’t be afraid.  

Don’t be afraid of what?  Of you (Jesus)?  My situation?

Yes.  Anything.

Well, why shouldn’t I be afraid?  This is a lot to digest!

Jesus immediately tells him the reason why John shouldn’t be afraid when he says “...I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Rev. 1:17, 18).

The sole reason for John’s peace is Jesus’ existence.  In spite of whatever John is seeing, be it his circumstance or a glorified Jesus he’s not used to yet, John should have no fear due to his covenant relationship with Christ.

That’s the second thing.  I am the First and the Last.  That’s it.  I am literally God Almighty, the same One you saw die and rise.  This is Me.  Let that be all the proof you need that you can trust what I say.

So as John launches into dictating Jesus’ letter to the church of Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11, I take note that Jesus tells John to start the letter with this proclamation of His title--I am the First and the Last.  If you remember, He says next that He was dead and now alive forever, and He controls the keys of death and Hades (Rev. 1:18).  

Why is it important that he says this in the letter to Smyrna?  Because Christ is about to speak into their current situation of terrible persecution, and warn them that it’s about to get worse for a particular time period.  

This opens up a can of worms...a can full of questions.  But I think Jesus is telling them something simple.

Do not fear your situation.  Because I, the One who stepped out of Heaven into your pain and suffering, paid the price of redemption and reconciliation.  I, the One who welcomes you into forever with Me, will never leave you.   “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown” (Rev. 2:10).

Only He Who is the First and the Last can make such a bold declaration.  Only He Who’s glory is itself fearsome, is worthy, is trusting in the most fearsome of circumstances.

I hope you’ll enjoy the message from this week and find it encouraging.  But if you don’t walk away with anything else, take this with you.

Fear and trust no one and nothing but Jesus.  He’s the only One capable of giving life at the end of all of this.

And He promises He will to the faithful.
8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Revelation 2:8-11

Nigel Anderson

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