Monday 02 April 2018

Bible Book:

“Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one.” (vv. 17-18)

Revelation 1:12-18 Monday 2 April 2018

Psalm: Psalm 135


The author of Revelation was someone of powerful imagination, able to conjure up sights and sounds through the choice of words which carry profound symbolic meaning. The full richness of that symbolism is lost to us today, but we can still do our best to grasp the author’s dense reflection on Christian discipleship.

The author self-identifies as a persecuted exile named John, and just before this passage, he has heard a voice calling him to write his visions down and send them to seven churches. These churches, all located on or near the west coast of modern-day Turkey, are identified as a group – “the seven churches” (Revelation 1:4). John is called to send his vision from Patmos, the island of his exile, to these churches in particular.

The repetition of ‘seven’ indicates a layering of symbols. There are seven churches, seven lampstands and seven stars, and they belong together (Revelation 1:20). Lampstands had represented the worshipping community ever since Zechariah had a vision of a seven-branched lampstand (Zechariah 4:2), and it is hugely important that the Son of Man stands among the lampstands, which represent the churches. This is not a distant God but one who is present and engaged. The stars also represent the churches, held together in unity in Christ’s hand.

The description of the Son of Man (verses 13-16) draws on many Old Testament sources, especially Daniel 7:13 (note that the NRSV translates the Son of Man phrase as “one like a human being” there). The robe and the sash remind us of the High Priest, who wore these garments on special occasions; the white hair reminds us of the Ancient of Days, the bronze feet recall cherubim; the voice is the wake-up call of the returning glory. Poetic imagery enriches this description: the voice, like the many roaring voices of the turning tide; the vision holding the brightness of the full sun.

But the key to the whole passage emerges in the last two verses, where the words of John’s vision reflect a profound concern for the world to know the reality of Jesus’ love, made clear to us through his life, death and resurrection. Before the beginning and after the end, he holds all life. His renewed life brings the promise that all can share his ‘for ever and ever’ life – his jail-break from death was especially significant because he carried away the keys of death and hell (verse 18) (Hades is the Greek word for hell). The Son of Man is amongst us as one who fights our battles alongside us and defeats our worst enemies.

To Ponder

  • What language and imagery might you use to create a picture of Jesus?
  • What difference would it make to you to hear Jesus, the Son of Man, saying to you “Do not be afraid”?
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