Today’s reading is Revelation 1.
Hey, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You are one book of the New Testament away from reading the whole thing in 2018. That’s quite an accomplishment; I hope it has been a great benefit to your spiritual life.
As I mentioned in previous devotionals on John’s writings in the New Testament, hardly anyone on earth knew Jesus like John knew him. John was called by the Lord to be part of the inner circle of disciples along with Peter and James. They heard and saw things that others who followed Jesus didn’t see and hear--including the other apostles.
So if anyone who was looking at the end of his life (v. 9) would be overjoyed to see Jesus again, it would be John. When he saw Christ, however, he did not run to embrace the Lord like a friend greets a friend. Instead, when he saw Jesus, John “fell at his feet as though dead.” Why?
Well, just read the description of Jesus’s appearance in verses 12-16. Note the word “like” in these verses. That word tells us that John’s descriptions of Christ were not literal--he didn’t literally have “blazing fire” in his eyes. Instead, John is trying to visually describe for us how utterly brilliant, authoritative, and terrifying Jesus looked. This is why John collapsed before him; because he saw Jesus glorified with even greater glory in his appearance than he had after the resurrection. John collapsed in fear, in all-consuming awe of the glory of Jesus. It was the most fearful and yet majestic and beautiful thing he had ever seen.
Yet Jesus, powerful and glorified as he was, still retained his gentleness and grace toward the disciple that he loved. In verse 17b he said, “Do not be afraid” before identifying himself as Christ in verse 17c-18. The message that John would receive in this letter and the visions he would share were all about Jesus (v. 1a) to glorify him and to edify his church (vv. 11, 20). And the vision that Jesus wanted us to retain in our minds of him was the Jesus that John described in this passage--powerful, fierce, glorious, and yet gracious.
For this devotional today, I hope for nothing more than to stir up your heart and mind in worship for our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one we love. He is the one we are waiting for. It is his kingdom that we long for and work for so that we can see him and worship him. Let the vision of him described in this chapter humble you in worship before him. But let it also encourage you to speak up for him and point others to him. The one John described in this chapter is the one who said, All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples....” (Matt 28:18-19). Let’s keep doing that knowing that we are serving this One, the person so majestically described here in Revelation 1.