(I do a daily devotional for my church members. We are doing a “through the Bible in one year” reading, and I write some thoughts on one of the passages. I thought some of the readers here might enjoy this one today.)
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee.
Charles Wesley penned the words to this beautiful hymn in 1742. We love this Christmas season because of the cute little baby in the manger, bathed in the star’s soft light, surrounded by his mother, the shepherds and the Magi (a misunderstanding – they didn’t leave until Jesus was born and arrived many months later). It is sweet and sentimental.
And potentially deceptive.
Yes, Jesus was everything I have mentioned. He was gentle Jesus, meek and mild, come to seek and to save the lost. He emptied himself of heavenly glory and cloaked his divinity in human frailty. He made himself a lowly servant to accomplish the Father’s purposes. That is why he was born as a baby – not just as a photo op to keep the Christmas card vendors in business.
But it is a mistake to see Jesus only as he was in his first coming. Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that Jesus empty himself to come to earth and become a man. He revealed God’s character and grace to us. But there is more to Jesus than that. Those who only see Jesus as the meek, the servant, those who fail to understand the real Jesus as he exists now need to open their eyes!
Ever wished there was a picture of Jesus, or an accurate painting that showed us exactly what he looked like? Nothing like that exists – we only have the imagination of medieval painters. But there is a description of Jesus, the real Jesus, the Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, in Revelation 1:9-20. This is Jesus unveiled, in all his glory.
There are key differences between the Jesus who walked the earth and the Jesus whose picture is painted verbally in Revelation 1.
- In his first coming, Jesus was born in obscurity. The Jesus of Revelation will come in glory and all the world will see.
- In his first coming, Jesus cloaked his glory, but the Jesus of Revelation has removed that cloak and his glory is on full display.
- Jesus came the first time to seek and to save. But the Jesus of Revelation comes to judge the living and the dead and establish his kingdom on earth. He will not come a second time to serve, but to rule.
- Jesus endured scorn, ridicule and abuse in his first coming, but the Jesus of Revelation will strike down rebellious nations with the Sword which proceeds from his mouth.
- In his first coming, Jesus offered himself to mankind, but the Jesus of Revelation no man can resist. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess – some to their eternal reward and some to eternal punishment. None can escape this glorious Jesus.
In Revelation 1, the glorious Jesus walks among the churches (golden lampstands), the powerful presence of God to accomplish God’s work. Jesus is at work in the church. It may have flaws and impurities, but Jesus is here and the gold will be refined!
I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands, and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow—and His eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday. Revelation 1:12-16
Jesus wears a long robe with a golden sash, representing his office as Great High Priest, one who makes atone for our sins (Hebrews 2:17-18), one who understands our temptations (Hebrews 4:14-15), and who always lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).
His head and hair are of brilliant white. This likely calls to mind Daniel’s description of the “Ancient of Days” in Daniel 7:9, asserting Jesus’ deity. It also speaks of his holiness and purity. This is the sinless Son of God on whom there is no stain, in whom there is no transgression. He is the Holy God.
His eyes are as a fiery flame. Hebrews 4:13 tells us that no creature can hide from the sight of God. Jesus has eyes that pierce through the haze of deception and the fog of worldliness to see clearly and truly. He sees everything and judges rightly. Nothing is beyond him. Nothing gets past him.
His feet are like refined bronze, having been fired in a furnace. This is no novice testing out his glory. No, this person has walked through the fires and now has a refined authority, gained through suffering, which has established his position of honor. Before these feet all will fall in recognition of his Lordship.
His voice is like the sound of rushing waters, like the roar of Niagara Falls. It is a powerful voice, a voice of truth and authority, one that speaks words of hope to his people and warning to his enemies.
It is Christ who is in charge, especially of his church. He holds the leaders of the church (here described as stars) in his hands, speaking to his authority over them and his work through them. Out of his mouth comes the two-edged Sword, the Word of God, which is the rock upon which his church if founded. It is our hope and strength. And his face shines as the noonday sun. He is the glory of god in the church. The church doesn’t have to do anything but let Christ shine!
This is the Jesus who sits today at the right hand of God and who one of these days will ride out of heaven. He is the glorious, pure, powerful, Sovereign Lord, our Great High Priest, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Glory of the church who is at work among us today.
Father, may I see Jesus, not just as he WAS, but as he IS. I bow before him and acknowledge him as the rightful Lord of all.