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The echo of Easter

The risen Jesus is both impressively powerful, and intimately present in the church today.  We need not despair at what we see around us. 

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTOR 108/Peter_Mead 02 DE MAYO DE 2024 10:10 h
Photo: [link]Alp Duran[/link], Unsplash CC0.

I recently imagined a global tour that could be called the “tour of the tombs”.



That might not sound too exciting, but it would include great cities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and North America! 



Were we to travel that itinerary, we would see the burial sites of philosophers and Pharaohs, Kings and Emperors, religious leaders and mass murderers. 



It would be quite the tour!  And along the way, we would get an inadvertent “tour of the troubles.”  After all, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, etc., are all marked by political protests, persecution, death, wars, and terrorism. 



The world of today is not so different from the world of our history books.



In the first century, the events of one Sunday led to one of the greatest books ever written.  Imagine being John, possibly the youngest of Jesus’ disciples.  For three years, being with Jesus had transformed his life. 



He was there when Jesus taught, healed, and shook the world.  John was there when Jesus was arrested and crucified.  He was there the day Jesus rose from the dead and met with his disciples. 



John was there when Jesus met the group by the Sea of Galilee, when he uttered the Great Commission, and when he ascended into heaven.



The three years were over, but for the next six decades, John served his beloved Jesus.  He saw the gospel spreading in Jerusalem and the persecution that arose. 



He saw his brother and the other disciples systematically slaughtered over the following decades.  He lived beyond the destruction of Jerusalem, the dispersion of the Jewish people, and the rise of nasty Emperor Domitian. 



John lived for six decades serving Jesus.  And it was for preaching Jesus that John was sent to the penal colony of Patmos in his old age.



Then, one Sunday morning towards the end of the first century, John heard the voice of the risen Jesus (see Revelation 1:9-11).  The voice commissioned him to write everything he saw so that the Revelation of Jesus might be sent to the seven churches John cared about in Asia Minor.



If you look at the introduction to that book, the book of Revelation (1:1-8), you will find that John believed it to be a uniquely special book.  In a dark and troubling world, it offered grace and peace from the eternal God, especially the risen and victorious Son, Jesus Christ. 



John underlined how Jesus revealed the Father, has risen from the dead, rules over the kings of the Earth, has rescued sinners from this world, and, in the future, will return. 



The Revelation of Jesus Christ was exactly what the aged John needed.  It is what we need, too.



So what was it that John saw?  When we read through Revelation 1:12-20, how Jesus is portrayed is striking.



 



The risen Jesus is impressively powerful



He is impressively dressed, with a God-like description of his features.  There is the eternal wisdom seen in the white hair, the penetrating eyes, the judging feet and mouth, the thundering voice, and the brighter-than-the-sun face.



It might be really obvious, but this is no description of a corpse.  Jesus is very much alive and impressively powerful. 



If we think of the tour of the troubles in this world, what hope do we find in the many tombs of emperors and kings?  None. 



But one tomb is empty, and death has been defeated – Jesus holds the keys of death and Hades!  We all need to be gripped by the wondrous vision of Revelation 1. 



But don’t skim through the description too quickly.  Jesus is not only impressively powerful, but he also explains the cryptic imagery of lampstands and stars that appear in that vision, leading us to reconsider all those powerful features.



 



The risen Jesus is intimately present



I wonder how many times John had remembered Jesus’ words, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) 



Surely, those words had meant a lot during the difficult days when the apostles were being killed, when the Middle East was being rearranged, when John’s ministry in Asia was being opposed, when persecution was rising, and when John suffered on the prison island, kept away from the people he loved. 



Jesus had promised to be present, and he was.  And now, this entire book was pointed in the direction of those seven churches. 



When John turned, he saw Jesus walking in the midst of the lampstands, that is, the churches.  Jesus was present with John and with the churches.



Specifically, Jesus wore the clothing of a high priest (Rev. 1:13).  We can surmise that he was praying for the churches.  His features point to the purifying work of this high priest (Rev. 1:14-15) – the penetrating eyes, the feet ready to stamp out sin, etc. 



And his thunderous voice proclaims boldly to the church (Rev. 1:15-16).  It is interesting that this is no whisper, but like the sound of many waters pounding on the shore – it makes me wonder how many of those churches had closed their ears to the words of Christ by closing their Bibles.  How many churches today are doing the same?



Jesus is risen; he is alive.  The Easter truth transforms our experience of this troubled world.  And the vision described in Revelation 1 declares a vital message. 



The risen Jesus is both impressively powerful, and intimately present in the church today.  We need not despair at what we see around us.  We can look back to the empty tomb. 



We can look forward to the return of Christ.  And we can look up, knowing that our great High Priest is praying for us, purifying his church, and proclaiming his word to this day. 



Easter echoes down through the years. He is risen.  He is alive.  He is powerful and present.



Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. He blogs at Biblical Preaching


 

 


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