Sermon on Revelation 1:9-18
Text: 9 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. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 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.”
12 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 The hair on his head was 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 coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 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. 18 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.”
Last Sunday, we had the privilege of celebrating the most wondrous news that the world has ever heard: “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Jesus’ resurrection gives us our hope and our comfort. It assures us that our sins are forgiven. It tells us that there is a heaven to which all believers will go at the end of their lives. This morning in our lessons, we heard how the resurrection message changed lives. In our first lesson, we have the disciples telling the authorities that they would not stop speaking about Jesus. This from a group of men who, not all that long ago, were running away from the authorities or even denying that they knew whom Jesus was. In the gospel lesson, we have a man who made the bold statement that he would not believe that Jesus was alive unless he put his fingers where the nail marks were changing to a man who exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” The resurrection message changes people and gives them hope. In our text, we have a man who was in need of comfort and hope. As Jesus comes to this man in his hour of need, he also comes to us. THE RISEN SAVIOR REVEALS HIMSELF TO US 1. In All His Glory 2. With A Message Of Hope.
John tells us the circumstances under which he wrote this book of the Bible. He says that he was “on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” Patmos was a little island just off the coast of modern-day Turkey. The reason he was there was because he had been proclaiming the word of God and given testimony about Jesus. John was exiled on this little island because he was preaching about Jesus. Many historians think that this would have been around 95-96 A.D. In all likelihood, John was the last of the twelve disciples that had been with Jesus. He was an old man and he may well have been wondering what would happen when he was gone. Would the message about Jesus and his work be lost? As a result, Jesus gave John this vision that we refer to as the book of Revelation.
John tells us that on a particular Sunday, he had a vision and in this vision he heard a voice speaking to him. As he turned to see the source of the voice, he 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. The hair on his head was 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 coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” We will talk about the meaning of the seven golden lampstands in a moment, but, first of all, let’s focus on the one who spoke to John.
It says that it was “someone like a son of man.” It was a human figure that was standing there. When we hear this designation, we might think of the many times that Jesus referred to himself as “the Son of Man.” It is obvious from the latter verses of our text that this is who was speaking with John. However, he looked very different from the way that John usually saw Jesus. First of all, it says that he was “dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.” This garment was similar to the garments that the Old Testament priests would wear. The length of the garment brings to mind the vision that Isaiah had of heaven. In it, he says that “the train of his robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)
John goes on to say that “the hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow.” This reminds us of two things. First of all, the fact that the hair was white shows us that he is ancient. There is nothing that he has not seen. This is reminiscent of Daniel 7:9, “The Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool.” Secondly, the fact that it is white as wool and like snow, reminds us that he is holy. There is not one speck of sin in him. Going on, Jesus is described as “his eyes were like blazing fire.” This describes Jesus’ ability to see into people’s hearts. This thought is highlighted in Hebrews 4:13, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” It highlights the scrutiny and wisdom of a great ruler who cares for his people and opposes his enemies.
Next, it says that “his feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace.” Elsewhere in the Scriptures, Jesus’ feet are mentioned in relation to all who opposed him. “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 12:25) Then, it says “his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.” First of all, when you think of water, you realize that it is one of the things necessary for life. Secondly, if you have ever been at the foot of a waterfall or stood alongside some rapids, you know how loud that can be. With this picture, Jesus’ life-giving power is highlighted.
Then, as John sees Jesus, he notes “coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword.” What this is is seen in Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The Word of God is proceeding from the mouth of Jesus. Jesus assured John that the word would continue to be proclaimed. Finally, it says that “His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” This must have caused John to remember another time when he saw Jesus in all of his glory. It occurred on the Mount of Transfiguration. On that day, Peter, James, and John were given a glimpse of Jesus’ glory. Now, in this vision, John again is allowed to view the glory of Jesus.
What was his reaction? “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” He fainted! Why? Was it because he had been startled? Was it because of the strangeness of the things that he saw? No. He had this reaction for the same reason that Isaiah stated when he was granted his vision of heaven, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” All John could see was his sins. How would you and I react, if Jesus were suddenly to stand before us? We think of the description of Jesus that we heard earlier of his eyes like blazing fire. We know that he can see all of our sins. There is not one sin that we could keep secret from him. We might be able to fool others, but we cannot fool God. What sins would we be afraid that he would see? We also know from the Scriptures that we cannot stand before God on our own merits. We know that, if we were to try to stand before him dressed in our own righteousness, we would be lost forever. We can well understand why John fainted away. No doubt, we would do the same!
Note Jesus’ amazing love for John. “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 now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Jesus reaches out and touches John. He tells him “Do not be afraid.” Why not? Jesus says, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!” Jesus points John back to the wondrous news that we celebrated last week. This is why you and I do not need to be afraid to be in Jesus’ presence. Jesus says, “I was dead.” He points us back to his cross and reminds of what happened there. All of those sins that cause us to be so terrified in his presence were all paid for on that cross. All of the sins that others can see and those they cannot were paid for. All of the sins of which we are aware and those we are not were taken care of on that cross. Jesus’ death paid for them all. Then, as we celebrated last week, Jesus says, “I am the Living One. . . . I am alive for ever and ever!” Jesus’ resurrection assures us that those sins are completely gone. As a result, we do not have to be afraid to be in God’s presence. Now God sees us as holy and perfect. Another thing that might cause us fear is the end of our lives. As much as people might say it, death is not natural. Yet, we do not have to be afraid, because Jesus says, “I am the Living One.” Jesus said in John 14:19, “Because I live, you also will live.” As Jesus revealed himself to John, and as he has revealed himself to us, he gives us a message of hope. We know that our sins are forgiven. We do not have to be afraid of facing Jesus on the Last Day.
Jesus gave another message of hope to John. Remember earlier, we said that Jesus was standing among seven golden lampstands. What do these seven golden lampstands represent? We see the meaning as Jesus told John, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” The seven lampstands represent these seven churches in the western part of Turkey. They, too, were facing a period of persecution for believing in and proclaiming Jesus. Jesus wanted to comfort and encourage them, as
well. Note where Jesus is in relation to these lampstands. They were not off to the side, out of his sight. Jesus was standing among them. He knew what was going on in them and is there for them. John describes the fact that Jesus was holding seven stars in his right hand. We turn to verse 20 for an explanation, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” The word that is translated “angel” means messenger. In other words, Jesus is holding the pastors of those churches in his hand. He is keeping them safe as they proclaim his Word. This entire picture reminds us of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus gives us that same message of hope, as well. It seems as though Christianity is under attack on so many different levels. We read about other religions, whose stated aim is to convert all to its religion, by force if necessary. How many times aren’t Christians the targets of these attacks? Christianity is also under attack by our society. Basic morality is thrown out of the window. Believing the teachings that are found in the Bible makes you uneducated or bigoted. We might wonder, at times, if the Church will continue. How comforting it is to know that the Jesus who was standing among those seven golden lampstands, those ancient churches, is still standing among his believers today. He is still the “First and the Last.” He is the eternal, powerful God who has said that he would always be with his believers. This gives us hope when it looks as though there is none. We can count on all of these promises because of Jesus Christ. The message of the resurrection gives us hope.
What a special day it is when we get to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. How sad it is that the joy, at times, fades as we go back to our daily lives. Dear friends, let us make a point of going back often to that empty tomb and hearing the message that the angels brought, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” As we ponder the message of our resurrected Savior, we marvel at his power to raise himself from the dead. We rejoice at the message because it assures us that all of our sins have been paid for in full. We go forward in hope, knowing that Jesus is always with us. Amen.
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