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Turning to the Glorified Jesus

Turn to the glorified Jesus and leave the life of fear behind. The glorified Jesus was revealed not to scare the readers but to comfort them.


Revelations 1:9-20: I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”


Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.


When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


In my Bible college in New York, an argument broke out about what Jesus looked like. A fellow student pointed at me and said, “Jesus looked more like him than any of us.”


If I ask you to picture what Jesus looks like, I am confident whatever picture comes to your mind is nothing like the glorified Jesus revealed in Revelation 1:9-20. This is the first glimpse of the glorified Jesus. Why did the glorified Jesus choose to reveal Himself now and never before to any believer? It was to encourage them to endure tribulations that were and were yet to come.


The problem is knowing what Jesus looked like doesn’t help to endure tribulations. Only by turning to the glorified Jesus do people endure present and future tribulations. The glorified Jesus revealed things of the past, present, and future so that believers in the first century could endure tribulations that were and were yet to come.


Verse 9 is a divine outline for the passage and the entire book of Revelation. It reveals the things of the past, the present, and the future, which is indicative of Jesus’ absolute sovereignty over time, events, all of human history, and the destiny of the departed dead.


The Glorified Jesus Reveals the Things of the Past


The things of the past in the text can be things that John saw from verse 1-19 but they can also apply to the things that John had seen ever since he met Jesus, up to His resurrection and now.


Verse 9 opens with, “I, John your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John does not use his position as an apostle but simply states his name and his relationship with them as their brother. They are family in Jesus and partners in tribulation.


The word partner is translated from synkoinōnos meaning fellow partner or co-sharer. Continuing the triune rhythm seen in Revelation 1:4-8, they co-share in three things: tribulation, kingdom, and endurance in Jesus.


Tribulation often brings to mind a period of intense persecution at the end of time that is yet to come. In Greek, tribulation is thlipsis which is persecution. It is also when we feel that there is no way of escape. For John, this tribulation has already come with the proclamation of the kingdom of Jesus and there was no way of escape.


Kingdom, in Greek basileia is the sovereign rule of God. The Roman Emperor could not tolerate such a rebellious view, especially when the Roman Emperor demanded to be worshiped.


Endurance, in Greek that hupomone. Hupo means under, and mene means to remain. So, we endure by remaining under Jesus.


In verses 10-11, John testifies that he had some sort of out-of-body experience on the day of the Lord when he heard a voice saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”


The Day of the Lord in verse 10 could be the first day of the week like Sunday worship or it could be that John was deeply immersed in the Spirit and completely influenced by the Spirit that he was transported to the Day of the Lord. This is where, not when, that John heard the voice of the glorified Jesus. Outside of time and space, Jesus revealed how it all ends and how believers must endure tribulation.


Verse 10 says, the loud voice was like a trumpet. For Jews in the first century, the mention of the trumpet was commonly understood as a warning to Israel or summoning them to war. A battle is set for the day of the Lord when not only reckoning will begin, but also restoration.

In the Bible, most references to the day of the Lord carry a sense of urgency, and at the center of it is the nation of Israel. The prophets, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and Malachi, all talk about the day of the Lord.


Isaiah 13:6 warned, “Wail, for the day of the Lord, is near” and Joel 2:1 said, “Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand.” Yes, on that day God will pour out His wrath but also fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies. Romans 11:26 says, “And in this way, all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob [Israel].”

Yesterday, on the 50th anniversary of Yom Kippur War, Israel was once again attacked unprovoked. The surprise attack, which occurred on the holiest day of the year in Judaism, has already killed many and the Prime Minister of Israel has declared that Israel is at war. Again, on Yom Kippur. Nations can arise against Israel over and over again. They can do everything possible as they have done throughout the centuries, but Israel will never be lost, forgotten, nor defeated because God is her deliverer.


The application for us is many but one that may help us all is never to give up no matter how dark, scary, or hopeless it gets because we as believers are partners in the tribulation and the kingdom and in patient endurance with John, all the apostles, and every believer who has long gone before us. The world can persecute God’s people but cannot silence God’s message of hope.


The Glorified Jesus Reveals the Things of the Present


The things of the present within the text can be things that John is currently seeing in verses 12-16, but they can also apply to the current tribulation that John and all other believers were going through under the Roman Emperor, Domitian, in 95AD.


He banished John to Patmos to do forced labor in the mines. It was basically a concentration camp to shut him up because his message as verse 9 said, “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” was disturbing the Pax Romana (Latin for Roman peace) by proclaiming the prince of peace, the Lord of lords, and master of all—Jesus.


The Roman Empire with its all might could not stop the witness of Jesus from spreading across the globe. They isolated John, but they could not stop his witness. Many believers did not give in to the government mandate of emperor worship, but some did to escape tribulation. The church in America today is very similar to the church in John’s time. Some are enduring and standing on the truth, but others are giving in to social pressures to avoid confrontation whether the issue is marriage and family, traditional values, or support for Israel.


Verse 12 reads, “ Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands.” What are these seven golden lampstands? This is an allusion to Zechariah 4:2, 10 where it meant the temple and by extension, faithful Israel, but here in Revelation, it means the church. Seven is the number of perfection and completion in the Bible and later in verse 20 Jesus explains that these seven golden lampstands are the seven churches that represent the image of the complete church. Why golden? Gold symbolizes how precious the church is to God because His Son Jesus died for the church. It is also symbolic of the purity and holiness to which the church is called.


In verse 13 John saw “one like a son of man.” Who is that? Daniel 7:13-14 says, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples.” John’s description of the glorified Jesus to a Jewish reader was the picture of the promised Messiah, the ruler and king of all people in Daniel 7.


Next, our verse says Jesus was “clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.” In Israel priests and judges wore such robes. The high priest wore a golden sash to bind his garments. The only difference is that the sash of the high priest had golden thread woven in it, but the sash the gloried Jesus was wearing was made entirely of gold, which as mentioned earlier, represents preciousness, holiness, and purity. Jesus is the purer, holier, and greater high priest and judge than any other.


Verse 14 says, "The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow,” that is the image of God Himself. Going back to Daniel 7, verse 9 states, “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days [God] took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.


The son of man in Daniel 7:13 is Jesus, and the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9 is God the Father. John combines the two figures of Daniel 7, into one—Jesus because Daniel didn’t know what John knew. He knew “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1)” and “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).


Verse 14 continues, “His eyes were like a flame of fire. Jesus has a penetrating and holy gaze that roams the earth in search of righteousness. It judges every heart and watches all human affairs with a special gaze on the church.


Verse15 is another reference to Daniel 10:5-6 and Revelation 1:16 reads, “In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” The double-edged sword coming out of His mouth is Jesus’ divine judgment for non-believers.


I was talking to a believer who said I do not like this description. We all love the loving weak, meek, human Jesus but this is the description of the gloried Jesus. To us the description of Jesus may seem odd but not for the people familiar with the Old Testament.


The application for us is that Jesus’ eyes always see. We can never hide anything from Him and from what He has revealed in His Word. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”


The Glorified Jesus Reveals the Things of the Future


The things of the future within the text can be things that John sees from verse 20 onward in Revelation but they also can apply to the tribulation that John and all other believers are going to experience until the Rapture and what happens beyond that.


Verse 17-20 says, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are, and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”


Like Israel, most Christians around the world are in a constant state of tribulation. They are suffering and being killed. John reports when he turned toward the voice, He saw the glorified Jesus in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, the church.


The application for us is the same assurance that the immediate audience received— that Jesus is always in the midst of His church. He is here in our midst, Amen.


Last Sunday, my son, Arius, broke his arm. He was scared, and I was scared too because we did not know what to expect. Fear is a natural response to anything unseen, unfamiliar, unknown, and unexpected. Therefore, the future is always a scary thing but when we turn to the glorified Jesus, He comforts us and He reveals the things of the past, the present, but also the future.


I want to challenge you with this: the only way you will not fear but, rather, endure tribulation that is and is yet to come is if you turn to the glorified Jesus because He exercises absolute sovereignty over time, events, human history, and the destiny of the departed dead.


Turn to the glorified Jesus and leave the life of fear behind. The glorified Jesus was revealed not to scare the readers but to comfort them. The tribulation that is and is yet to come should never deceive you into thinking that Jesus is not there for you.


In the days of Daniel, in the trail of fire, the son of man, Jesus was there to comfort Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. His very presence took the power out of the fire and made it harmless.


The same God was there in the den of lions to comfort Daniel and to shut the mouths of the lions.


The same God is here to comfort you. He is here to shut the mouth of the devil who discourages you to keep you down, to keep you focused on your problems, and to keep your eyes off the glorified Jesus.


Jesus' message is, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” So, fear not and turn to Him.


Just as Jesus was there to comfort John in exile and the church in tribulation, He is here to comfort you. If you are experiencing isolation, loneliness, or suffering with disease or pressures of life, just turn to the glorified Jesus.


Study Questions


1. How was John suffering for the Lord? Why was he on the island of Patmos as opposed to a prison cell in Rome? Discuss Peter (Acts 12) and Paul and Silas’s (Acts 16:16-34) imprisonments.


2. In Revelation 1:9, how does John describe himself and why? Contrast that with Paul’s description of himself in his letters (ex: Ephesians 1:1, etc.).


3. Compare the phrase, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10 with Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 12:2. Reflect on how John describes the voice he heard as “a loud voice like a trumpet.” What significance might the trumpet have for the Jewish readers in the first century?


Deeper Study Questions


1. In Revelation 1:17, Jesus told John “Fear not, I am the first and the last.” How does this apply to you? Are there any fears for which you need Jesus' assurance?


2. How do you feel when you hear the word spoken by Jesus, “I have the keys of Death and Hades?”


3. How do the attributes that Jesus revealed in Revelation 1:13-15 enrich your understanding of Him? How does this description of Jesus make you feel? What steps are you willing to take as a result of seeing the glorified Jesus in this passage?


Personal Study


Revelation 1:12-16 is full imagery. To understand the imagery better, read Daniel 7:9, 13-14; 10:5-6, Ezekiel 43:2, Hebrews 4:12-13, and Ephesian 6:17. What does each image represent?

  • Lampstands

  • Robe to His feet

  • Golden sash across His chest

  • Hair white like wool

  • Eyes like a flame of fire

  • Feet of burnished bronze

  • Voice like many waters

  • Seven stars in His hands

  • Two-edged sword out of His mouth

  • Face shining like the sun

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