If Jesus wrote a letter to __________ Church, what might he say? Would he commend us? Might he correct us? Would Jesus praise our teaching or our ministries that bless the community? Might Christ express concern about our busyness? Would Jesus challenge us to reexamine our priorities?
During January & February, we will be studying the letters that Jesus wrote to seven churches in Revelation 2-3. We want to see what we have in common and where we need to learn and grow.
The very first lesson we need to learn is that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Church (Revelation 1:1-20). When we gain a bigger and more accurate vision of who Jesus is, we will worship him and serve him.
In the opening verses, the apostle John explains that the book of Revelation is both from Jesus and about Jesus (1). It reveals new information about the future that was previously unknown.
Far too often, we read Revelation simply because we want to know about the end times. However, the book is designed to transform us, not merely to inform us. There is a blessing for those who read, hear, and obey the lessons found in this book (3).
Since Jesus Christ will return soon, we need to be serious about living for him today (3). We need a greater sense of urgency and purpose in how we live our lives.
In verses 4-8, John explains that the message comes from the Trinity (4-5). He specifically mentions the Father (who is and who was and who is to come); the Holy Spirit (the seven spirits who are before his throne); and the Son (Jesus Christ).
John states that Jesus Christ fulfills three roles (5). He is the Prophet (the faithful witness); the Priest (the firstborn of the dead); and the King (ruler of kings on earth). John goes on to say that Jesus Christ loved us (5) and he saved us (5) (has freed us from our sins by his blood) so that we might serve him (6) (made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father).
John closes his greeting by stating that Jesus Christ will return in a very public, visible manner (7). God is the first word and the last word on all that will take place (8).
The apostle John was persecuted and exiled for preaching the gospel (9). He was exiled to the island of Patmos, off the coast of present day Turkey. While worshipping God on a Sunday (the Lord’s Day), John had a vision of the exalted Christ (10-18). He was told to write the message and communicate it to seven churches in Asia Minor (11).
Keep in mind that John is not giving a physical description of Jesus. His constant use of the word “like” tells us that he is trying to picture or put into words what he saw. John’s vision of Christ included:
Jesus speaks with a loud voice like a trumpet, and one which sounds like a roaring waterfall (10, 15). Jesus speaks clearly and in a compelling manner that cannot be ignored.
Jesus is in the midst of the lampstands (12-13). Since the lampstands represent the church (20), this tells us that Jesus is present among the churches.
Jesus is clothed with a long robe (13). Jesus wears the garments of a priest. This fits with what the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is our great high priest.
Jesus has white hair (14). This image explains that Jesus is eternal. He is the Ancient of days. White hair also indicates the wisdom and knowledge that accompanies age. Jesus is omniscient, knowing everything. White also indicates purity and holiness.
Jesus has flaming eyes and bronzed feet (14-15). The eyes indicate that Jesus sees all. Since the brazen altar in the temple was where sin was dealt with, the bronze feet show that Jesus has the power to judge sin righteously and decisively.
Jesus holds seven stars (16). Since the stars and lampstands represent the church and her leaders (20), this picture shows that Jesus sovereignly possesses and is Lord over the church. He holds the church in his protection and care.
Jesus’ mouth is like a two-edged sword (16). This image brings to mind the description of the word of God in Hebrews 4:12. However, the word for sword in Hebrews is a dagger, a short knife. The word for sword in Revelation 1:16 is a long sword, one that the Romans used to kill someone. Thus, verse 16 speaks of judgment. Jesus speaks clearly and directly, penetrating heart and soul. He has the power and authority to judge and conquer his enemies.
Jesus’ face shines like the sun (16). Jesus is the Lord of glory. John caught a brief glimpse of Jesus’ glory during the Transfiguration. Now, his glory is fully revealed.
John is overcome with emotion and worships Christ (17). Jesus comforts him with the knowledge of his life and power over death and hell (17-18).
John is given the task of communicating Christ’s message to the world (19). He is to tell the story about the past (chapter 1), the present (chapters 2-3), and the future (chapters 4-22).
When we understand that Jesus is the Lord of the Church, we will worship him and serve him.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 7, 2018. It is the opening message in a series on The State of the Church, examining the seven churches in Revelation. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.