The Glorious King – Part 1
“and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”Revelation 1:13-18
We have spent some time in recent weeks thinking about the ascension of the Lord Jesus- he is at the right hand of the Father- the place of most honour- with the Name above every name. Yet he is also with his people by his Spirit. Prophecies like that of Isaiah 57:15 find their fulfilment in him.
In John’s Gospel there is a vision of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus. John, now an old man exiled by Rome to an Island called Patmos, hears a loud voice commanding him to write what he sees. He turns to see who is speaking to find someone ‘like a son of man’, echoing Daniel’s prophecy (see Daniel 7) and Jesus’ favourite description of himself. But this is no ordinary human being. No ordinary son of man.
It is Jesus.
No surprise there. But the first thing he sees isn’t actually Jesus, rather he sees 7 golden lampstands.
What are the lampstands? Jesus tells us in verse 20 “and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” They are the 7 churches to whom the letter of Revelation will be taken- “Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” But seven is also the perfect number. Not always perfect in the sense of morally good, but in the sense of completeness.
So this letter delivered to the 7 churches in verse 11 is also to be delivered to the complete church, the whole church. Including us. This vision offers the contemporary church as much guidance and courage and hope as it did for the early church all those years ago.
Jesus is with us. We are a golden (precious) lampstand called to hold forth the Light of Jesus to a world lost in the darkness.
John Piper says:
“Jesus moves among his lampstands, trimming the wicks and carving wax, breathing life back into flickering flames.”John Piper
And who is this our Lord?
The Ruling and Reigning Christ
Of all of Jesus’ disciples, three were closer to him than the others: Peter James and John. And from within the inner three one was given a special title “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
When Jesus’ death drew near he asked one man to look after his mother- John.
John was as close to Jesus as anyone, maybe closer.
And yet what was his reaction, when he meets with the risen, ascended and glorified Lord?
He falls on his face before him.
This is the King of Kings. He rules and he reigns and all eventually, inevitably, will fall before him and acknowledge the rightness of his rule and reign.
The Righteous Christ
“His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow”
We do everything we can to avoid white hair. It’s been one of the great burdens of lockdown for some, we can’t get our hair dyed! Proverbs speaks highly of those with grey hair, connecting age with wisdom. But white hair, ‘white as snow’? This is a phrase heavy with biblical resonance:
PS 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
ISA 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
He is sinless, spotless, pure, blameless, perfectly righteous.
Yet this glorious king, unstained by sin, willingly laid down his life in love for us. Therefore we can hear and heed his words “do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever!”
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father– to him be glory and power for ever and ever!
Ross Murphy – Pastor of Airdrie Ebenezer Evangelical Church