Revelation 1:1-7. The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
What comes to mind when you think about the book of Revelation? Visions of dragons and horsemen? War and destruction? The Antichrist wreaking havoc? Rocks falling on people as they cry for mercy? Do you read Revelation (do you read Revelation?) as a doomsday scenario? I mean “Revelation” is the word Apocalypse, right? So brimstone meteors crashing into Earth, global pandemics (too soon?), zombies, dogs and cats living together, you know, normal “end of the world” stuff. Right?
Often we read Revelation with ourselves at the center of the book. How can I escape this judgment which is to come? How can I survive and make it to the utopian kingdom on the other side?
But the book of Revelation is not about you. In fact, it’s not even a book about the end of the world, or even a book primarily about the future, as if it’s some sort of crystal ball to look into. The book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It’s a letter written by John to suffering Christians. The purpose of this letter is not to frighten us into salvation, but to celebrate the salvation that we already have in Christ. The purpose of Revelation is to show us how Jesus is the apocalypse of God. Jesus is God breaking into time and space (that’s what apocalypse means) to rescue us. Revelation is about God’s redemptive plan fulfilled in Christ. A new creation coming. How? Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Revelation is a story of Christ’s ultimate victory over sin, and death, and the grave. It is the unleashing of Christ once again into the world. The first apocalypse came 2000 years ago at Christmas. The second apocalypse is coming, when Christ will be revealed and all will be made right with the world. And for now, we are given a glimpse of Jesus. Our king on his throne. Our Savior exalted. May these descriptions bring peace, not dread, to your heart:
Jesus Christ the faithful witness – Jesus, the great prophet, has shown us the heart of God. He is the greatest witness to the purpose, plan, and person of the Father EVER! How much does God desire us? Look at the Christ child in the manger. How much does God love us? Look at Christ on the cross. What is God’s desire for us? Look at Christ on the throne.
the firstborn of the dead – Jesus, the great priest, was first the great sacrifice. But rising from the dead he entered heaven and made peace with God by his shed blood on the cross. He rose never to die again. We too will rise! Never to die again. Behold your risen High Priest, ever living to intercede for you.
the ruler of kings on earth – Jesus, the great king, rules over all thing for our good and his glory. Every knee bows to him and to his grace. As King of kings and Lord of lords he has the power and authority to bring everything under his just and righteous rule.
To him who loves us – and he’ll never stop loving us! Just see what Christ has done for us:
[he] has freed us from our sins by his blood – Jesus has washed away every stain of sin. None too big, none overlooked. No fear. No dread. No running from this revelation of Jesus. We run to him in awe of his great love for us.
[he] made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father – Jesus has not only freed us, he has empowered us. We are what he is. Not someday. Today! The ultimate prophet, priest, and king has passed on his own identity, his own ministry to us – royal priests proclaiming his excellencies (1 Pt. 2:9) – to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
“To live is Christ” is to live each day within this revelation of Jesus Christ. Our loving Lord. Our sanctifying savior. Our commissioning Christ. Look down and see him in a manger laid, your humble savior. Look up and see him coming with the clouds of heaven, your glorious king.
How have you been beholding the revealed Christ this Christmas season?
You in Christ
In Christ you are loved, cleansed, and empowered, today! Do you believe this?
Christ in you
Do you see yourself as a royal priest? What might a royal priest do today?
Playlist: Christmas Revelation