he Book of Revelation paints a striking picture of Jesus in all of His glory. This book opens by describing itself as “the Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelation has the meaning of “unveiling” or “disclosure.”
The entire book is about Christ, who stands at the center of God’s plan for this world. He and the Holy Spirit are one with God the Father. Those who insist that Jesus is less than God contradict the clear teaching of Scripture, and, furthermore, they hurt other people by taking them away from the truth.
The apostle John had no doubt that Jesus is fully God. John had the privilege of seeing in a vision Jesus unveiled in His full glory. While “in the Spirit,” John heard behind him a loud voice as a trumpet, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:10-11 NKJV). John turned to see who was speaking, and his eyes fell on Jesus, the risen Lord.
Our eyes are often on the wrong things. The media turns them on petty tyrants like the Syrian dictator Assad and the North Korean dictator Kim-Jong Un. We see evil abounding here and there. We behold some people who will do most anything for money, power, and position. All of these things can be discouraging to those of us who strive to live by the Word of God.
From time to time we need to look away from this world of pomp and pride and, as the songwriter said, “turn [our] eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.” When we behold His power, authority, and glory, it will calm our hearts in this troubled world.
John’s Vision of the Risen Christ (Revelation 1:10-18)
John turns to see who has spoken to him, and he sees the living Christ standing in the midst of lampstands. The lampstands represent churches (v. 20). This assures God’s people that Christ is the source of their light and strength.
John has the privilege of seeing the living Lord in His royal splendor and glory. Have you ever thought about this? We have no physical description of Jesus while He lived on the earth. The Bible gives us no hint as to how He looked. His appearance in the flesh is left completely to our imagination.
But in his vision, John sees the living Lord in all of His authority, majesty, and glory. He shares with us what he saw in an eightfold description of the character of our Lord.
- He is clothed with a robe down to His feet. The long garment was a mark of importance and authority, leaving no doubt that Christ will judge all people. Among them will be His enemies, nations, and the Church.
- His head and hair are white like wool, white as snow. The head full of white hair speaks of age and purity. Before Creation, our Lord existed. In fact, there never was a time when He did not exist. So here the white wool and snow represent His sinless and eternal character.
- His eyes are as flames of fire. Again and again the Gospels tell us something about the eyes of Jesus. At times His eyes were full of anger because of the hardness of people’s hearts (Mark 3:5). On other occasions, His eyes were filled with love (Mark 6:34; 10:21). But the eyes John saw in his vision were as a flaming fire. As fire penetrates, so does His eyes. Nothing can be hidden from Him. Hebrews 4:13 says, “All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (NKJV).
- His feet are like fine brass, as if they had been in furnace of fire. Brass stands for strength. Our living Lord is steadfast in the punishment of sin. Ultimately everything will be placed under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25).
- His voice sounds like many waters. To John, the voice of Christ sounded like the surge and the thunder of the sea. The Savior speaks with great authority and power. His voice of judgment can be terrifying like the roar of many waters.
- Christ has seven stars in His hands. Probably the stars represent the seven churches and their pastors—He holds them all in His hand. All the churches belong to the risen Savior. His presence and power are not confined to any one church but includes all Christian congregations.
- A sharp two-edged sword proceeds from His mouth. This is a reminder that the spoken word of Christ penetrates people’s hearts. Many people will go to hear politicians, but soon they will get tired of them and their rhetoric. An amazing thing is this: Put a faithful, Spirit- anointed preacher up to expound the Scripture. People will return the next Sunday to worship the Lord and to him or her. In fact, they will come again and again to hear the preaching of the Gospel.
The preached word of Christ has mighty power. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV).
- Christ’s countenance is like the sun shining in its full brightness. His face is majestic, radiant with glory. Years earlier, Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, and “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2 NKJV). In his vision, John saw again the heavenly glory on the face of the risen Savior.
On the road to Damascus, the risen Savior appeared to Saul of Tarsus as “a light from heaven, brighter than the sun” (Acts 26:13 NKJV). Out of that experience came Paul’s conviction that God’s glory is clearly revealed in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Like Paul, in that face we see God’s glorious light, and we are sent to carry it forth into this dark world.
Christ’s Words of Reassurance (Revelation 1:17)
When John sees Christ in His full glory, he is stunned and falls at His feet as dead. This beloved disciple has had glimpses of His glory as he did at the Mount of Transfiguration; but for the most of His earthy life, Christ’s glory had been concealed. In the vision, John sees the exalted Lord in His unveiled glory and deity. He is overwhelmed by the Savior’s greatness and his own weakness and insignificance. Then Christ places His right hand on John with words of comfort and reassurance, telling him, “Stop being afraid” (ISV).
How can we describe that experience? Its description is beyond words. But for us to feel His touch and to hear His words in our heart—”Stop being afraid”—speaks volumes to us about how much He loves us. Our Savior has the whole church in His hand, but He ministers to our individual needs.
Christ’s Declarations About Himself (Revelation 1:17-18)
John has felt his Lord’s touch and heard His comforting words. To give John more reassurance, Christ declares who He is: “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (NKJV).
These words are true only of God. “First” takes us back into eternity, the eternal existence of the Savior. “Last” takes us into the future, the time when Christ will return and fulfill all things. It cannot be said of the mighty and great of this world that they are “first” or “last.”
Who can claim to have been dead, but now is alive forever? No one among mortal people. Christ and Christ alone. Robert Lowry wrote:
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
The miracle of our Lord’s resurrection proves His power to save. His victory over death means we can count on Him in every situation in life and in death.
Between death and resurrection, our Lord went into hades, the place of the dead in the Old Testament (1 Peter 3:18-19; 4:6). When Christ returned from the place of the dead, not only had He won victory for Himself, but He brought back the keys to the gates of hades and death.
On the resurrection morning He will use those keys, saying to His people who are dead, “Arise! Come forth and live!” At the command of our sovereign Lord, death will be forced to let us go.