What Lessons Do We Learn about Why Jesus Looks Different (Revelation 1:12-20)
January 4, 2015, 2:57 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: ,

John tells us in the start of the book of Revelation, that he was a fellow Christian, that he knew what trials were like, and that he was exiled on the island of Patmos. For about 60 years, John had faithfully followed Jesus Christ as he shared the Good News, even while suffering from the persecution that the early church experienced. John was now on an 5 by 10 mile island used to isolate prisoners. He had outlived the other apostles. The gospel worked as multitudes were saved. Yet many of the local assemblies were experiencing severe persecution at the hands of the Roman government. While throughout his life, John gained a new understanding of Jesus through His help and guidance in John’s life, his memories of Jesus were of the resurrected Savior who had lived the life of a suffering servant. Now, Jesus was going to give John, and all men a radically different picture of who He is. This picture of who Jesus provided lessons that were necessary for the churches of Asia Minor. Although Smyrna was holding the truth, it was a small assembly of believers. The gathering at Philadelphia was remaining faithful. But the other five were struggling as they walked with Christ. Ephesus, a church dearly loved by John had left it’s first love and the Lord warned them to return or they would cease to exist. Pergamos had turned to idols, immoral lifestyles characterized by sexual sin. Christ warned them that unless they repented, He would fight against them. Thyatira was a church that compromised and copied the world’s attraction for sin bringing upon them the judgment of God. Sadly, John knew of the death of the church at Sardis. The final church in Asia Minor was the Laodicean church. This church was so corrupt and apathetic that it made the Lord vomit. John had a love for the Lord and it broke his heart to see such a departure from the Lord. At this time of self-doubt and self-evaluation, Jesus Christ wanted to remind man that the church was His love. Christ had given Himself for the church, so He wanted John to share the vision of just how magnificent the bridegroom and Lord of the church really was.
Having heard the voice, John responded by turning to see who was speaking. Expecting to see a man, John records that he saw a remarkable sight. He describes it this way, “. . . I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”
As we examine this passage, we see a repeated word that is very small, yet extremely important. The word is “like”. At points the word is used and then implied in the compound sentences. Like and as show use that we are to interpret this passage as figurative language. John sees Jesus, the Son of Man, as the exalted king in the middle of seven golden candlesticks. These seven golden candlesticks or lamp stands would set on the floor and come up to shoulder level. On top would be a golden oil lamp, with a wick that could be lit. The gold indicated the value and worth of the lamp stands. In Scripture, the number seven indicates completion. Jesus tells John that they represent the seven churches to whom he is to write a book of the record of this vision. The number indicates that while these churches are actually churches, they also are representative churches of the body of Christ, which is to be the light of the world. Christ moves through the churches, tending the lamp with the oil, (a symbol used for the Holy Spirit) while keeping them shining and lit. He hasn’t departed from the church, so the issue is the church moving away from Him. It is important to note that Christ is currently moving in the church. Remember, John is writing about the things which have been, which are, and which will be. The gathering is not left alone. Christ is currently working in the church, ministering in whatever way He needs for the good of the church.
So what is Christ currently doing in His church? First, He is growing His church. He is in the midst of His church, empowering the church to be what He wants it to be. He is taking care of the smallest of details, because He is precise in what He says and what He does.

The title John gives to Jesus is “the Son of Man”. This is the term Jesus most often gave to Himself in the Gospels (81 times). The title traces back to Daniel 7:13-14 and was used for the Messiah. I think the details show that Jesus will have a people who will follow Him and bring glory to Him for the rest of eternity. The union between Christ and the church is compared to the union of a husband and wife, which continues until death do we part. We can be confident that the Lord is with us, no matter what we do or fail to do.
The second thing that is revealed by the image of Christ seen when John turned, is that He is the High Priest of the church. He is seen as clothed in a garment or robe reaching to his feet, and across His chest is a golden sash. The robe is a symbol of a king, a prophet, or a priest. But the sash sets it apart as the robe of the High Priest, as found in Exodus 28-29, and 39. Jesus is our High Priest, interceding for us. As our High Priest, we find in Hebrews that He intercedes, sympathizes with us, provides us a mercy seat, and gives the way of escape from any temptation.
The third thing that the Lord Jesus Christ is doing in the church is purifying the church. In verse 14, Jesus’ head and hair are “white, like wool and snow”. This is the glowing, blazing white that would be true of the Shekinah glory. It is a picture of His purity and holiness. As we, the church, worship and bring glory to Jesus Christ, we grow closer to Him and rely upon His power to live in a way that glorifies Him. His eyes are described like a flame of fire, which speaks of His ability to see every hidden sin of our deepest heart. In verse 15, we read that His feet were the blazing, brilliant bronze which are polished in a furnace. In the ancient world, subjects of a king were always beneath the monarch, so being under his feet always referred to being under his authority or judgment. While nothing separates us from the love of God, He does discipline and correct His children. We are accountable to Him.
The fourth thing we see about Christ is that “His voice was like the sound of many waters”. John was on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Imagine the sound of the water crashing on shore. He compares the voice of the Lord to that sound. The idea behind this is that when Jesus speaks, His voice is a commanding voice. We are to listen. His voice is to be our voice, which we let the whole world hear.
The fifth lesson is revealed in Christ holding the seven stars in His right hand. These stars are the messengers or pastors of the seven churches. To these pastors, John would give a copy of the book of Revelation when they visited him at this island prison. Christ had these men as His representatives in the churches. The book is written with specific instructions to each pastor, as recorded in chapters 2 and 3. God will have an person of impact who He has control over. The important thing to remember about the seven churches is that even though they have serious problems, they are still described as Christ’s. He still holds the pastors in His hands. Churches which are faithfully following Him as well as lukewarm churches that make Christ vomit, are still described as His. The pastors are seen as His as well. Unfortunately, some pastors lose focus and fall short of what Christ wants. It is essential that we remember, Christ gives to the church, pastors. However some churches fail to pray for pastor who meet God’s standards and settle for something else. But even those are under Christ’s control. His church will have His messenger.
The sixth lesson we learn about Christ’s current work is found in this description, “and out of His mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword”. We normally rush to the conclusion that this the a description of the Word of God. In a sense it is. But look at the words of Revelation 2. Here it seems that this is a warning that those who reject His word. That same word will be the standard of judgment brought against us. Christ will be faithful to His word, even when we aren’t. He will protect His church and bring judgment upon those who harm His bride. When a church struggles with following the truth, Christ confronts them with the convicting power of His word. In this way, Christ protects His bride. Many of us forget this important lesson and try to fight the Lord’s battles with far inferior weapons and with much less authority.
The seventh lesson about what Christ is doing now for His church, is that He shines through His church. The church is a reflector of Christ’s glory and the glory is seen in the amazing story of the Good News. The brilliant shekinah glory of Jesus Christ is reflected from His face, verse 16, which is described like the sun shining in its strength. Think about the brilliant sun on a bright summer day as it lights up everything. That is what Christ is doing in and through His church. He is lighting up everything. This shows the importance of worship within the church body. As we see the radiance of the Lord, our lives are transformed and we reflect His glory to those with whom we come into contact. We are the light of the world as we reflect His light.
So what is to be our response to these seven lessons? Look at verse 17, to see how this vision affected John. He fail down as a dead man. He was overcome by the vision. He realized that compared to Him, we are nothing. We are incapable of adding anything to His work. That is exactly the point! Jesus laid His right hand, the hand of power on John. That touch was Jesus’ way of reaffirming to John that He was his strength and power. John may have felt incapable but Jesus was letting him know that He was in control. Jesus is teaching us that He will use those who realize they are incapable of doing what God has planned for them to do because it is so awe-inspiring. When we remember, Jesus has taken care of the tough stuff and we only need to surrender to Him to be used by Him. He is our strength.
The conclusion of the chapter was that Christ told John to get up, and get busy. I’ll explain what needs to be explained. You just need to write. Our jobs are different from John’s but there are two important things to remember. First, just like John, we are to trust the Lord as our strength. Second, we are to get busy, doing what He has planned for us to do.


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