This week, we looked at Revelation 1:9-20: John’s first encounter with the glorified Jesus who is present among the 7 golden lamp stands. The image that John sees is pretty fantastic, so it can immediately contributes to our natural fear & misunderstanding of the book.
My wife is/was a teacher (once… always, right?). So every holiday season, she breaks out all all her themed books for our young kids. One is called “Mouse’s First Halloween.” In it, mouse is walking around at night and hear or sees creepy things that turn out to be “not so scary after all.” Let’s keep this mind as we look at the description of Christ shown to John:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man:
- Clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.
- The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow.
- His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace
- and his voice was like the roar of many waters
- In his right hand he held seven stars
- from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword
- and his face was like the sun shining in full strength
His clothing reflected the dignity of royalty and leadership. While it might seem an outdated form of dress, many world leaders are still identified by the wearing of a sash. For John and readers at the time, this was an image of honor and rule. Not so scary after all.
The long white hair is difficult image in our culture that values youth. We spend lots of money and energy trying to look young and stay relevant. To have Jesus, “showing his age” is difficult on a few levels. Most commentaries refuse the idea that the Lord would have aged, saying (rightly) that this image is to reflect from the prophet Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days. Why do we struggle against this image of a matured and tested Lord? Again, we have a cultural lack of respect for the wisdom and strength that comes with age and experience. I say, let’s just take him as he is. Not so scary after all.
I have to admit, the firey eyes are pretty scary. The image here is that the Lord sees with the discerning eyes of the Spirit. Sin encourages us to think we can hide from God’s eyes. But the eyes of Spirit know us.
I love connecting the image of the burned and bronzed feet with Daniel’s experience with the Lord in the furnace. So, what we’re seeing is a Lord who has walked the hard roads for our freedom. Not so scary after all.
The voice like flowing waters implies the combination of power and gentleness. I travel over Brushy Creek everyday and after it rains, that thing is flowing! But no matter if it’s a gentle flow or near flooding, it has this gentle sound that ironic. Not so scary after all.
Jesus himself explains the seven stars in the passage so I won’t engage that much, except to say: Not so scary after all. It’s comforting to know the He loves the churches so much.
But AHH! What about that double-edge sword coming out of this mouth!? Hebrews 4:12 describes the Word of God as a two-edged sword, capable of doing surgery on our hearts.
This image of Him speaking with that sword means that when He speaks, he speaks nothing but the Word of truth! He’s got integrity. See! Not so scary after all.
His face shining like the sun, means that He is fully glorified (ie: we see Him how he is). The disciples saw this one day when Jesus led them up a high mountain. This light that John saw, is the true light and He’s come into the darkness. Not so scary after all.
Or is it? I think what’s really scary about this image is knowing that one day, I’ll be present before Him. Having to look at His glorious majesty, with his discerning eyes and voice of power and truth, knowing how much I lived in response to His grace. Did I store up treasures for this day? Or did I live for myself and crucify Him again and again?