Of all things, I have been drawn of late to study John’s Revelation. The book has scared me since my early Sunday School days, and every time I’ve read it since—even Peterson’s The Message—it strikes me as bizarre, ungracious and brutal. This time, I have been reading it with Darrell Johnson’s help (Discipleship on the Edge) and at last the utter Christ-centeredness that you would expect from John shines through. Darrell has done a fantastic service to believers everywhere. Note what Jesus says of himself to the seven churches. Each affirmation is so profoundly personal to each particular struggle of the individual church. Each is strong, simple, and so much bigger than our Western minds. Jesus is the center of all creation, always has been and always will be. One day we will all see it.
“The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands” (2:1).
“The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life” (2:8).
“The One who has the sharp two-edged sword” (2:12).
“The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze” (2:18).
“He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars” (3:1)
“He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens” (3:7).
“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning [arche, source and meaning] of the creation of God” (3:14).
The seven stars represent the whole of creation. The seven spirits represent the complete anointing of Jesus in the Spirit. He is the one and only person in Biblical history who received the Holy Spirit as an abiding, immeasurable gift. The seven lampstands represent the whole church.
Take some time and reflect on what we are being told about Jesus here. The One who is at the center of the cosmos and the church; the One who is the source and meaning of all things, the One who died and rose again; the One anointed with the Holy Spirit; the One who sees and discerns; the Truth; the Father’s Son; the true witness; the One who opens doors than none can shut; this One is in our midst. There is a reason that again and again John simply says, “Look!” “Behold!” No doubt, we, like the individuals and the churches in John’s day, face serious turmoil, especially in our darkness. John’s answer is to shine the light on Jesus. He is where the buck stops. Jesus is where all pretentious arguments cease. Before Him everyone will know that He knows that we know that He knows. Jesus has overcome. His victory is eating its way through the (and our) darkness. Meantime: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).