Monday, October 22, 2012

Revelation and Not Being Afraid

John's my favorite of the disciples. He's thoughtful, tender and sweet, rare traits in manly men, but endearing nonetheless. He's humble, too. Wouldn't name himself in his biography of Jesus considering it bad form to brag blatantly. There was a beloved disciple for Christ, John just didn't say it was himself.

He was there for Jesus after the others had left him alone on the cross. No doubt he honored Jesus' request that he care for Jesus' mother.

Was it that he was the only disciple there to charge with this duty?

Or could it could be that Jesus knew even from the cross that John would be the last disciple standing?

Perhaps it was by design that John be the last so that he might be available when the time came for Jesus' coming Revelation? 

Jesus seems to have hand-picked his beloved disciple for the big reveal about the future.

Just the sight of a heavenly Jesus in his full radiance and majesty was enough to overcome Jesus' most intimate friend, causing John to fall at his feet as though dead. John may not have recognized his old friend. Eternity had treated Him well, after all.

Perhaps a less acquainted companion would actually die of fright before Jesus could explain Himself.

Yes, I think He chose John purposefully.

This heavenly Jesus must have barely resembled the earthly Jesus, although I'm sure it was hard for John to see much of anything discernible with all that blazing, golden, white, fiery, glowing Light shining in his eyes. Perhaps if John hadn't fainted from fright, he might have felt the nail scars on those burnishing bronze feet at which he fell and recognized Him then.

But I doubt John ever recognized his old friend because this risen Jesus has to identify Himself. Again.

The risen Jesus always had to identify himself.

Apparently the earthly no longer recognizes the heavenly. And holiness now scares us so much we don't want to see Him.

But if Jesus chose John specifically, then their history together bleeds all over this scene in my mind's eye.

Jesus touches him and says, "Do not be afraid." (It's me — Jesus. This is just like when I walked on water and the Mount of Transfiguration. Remember? You were afraid then, too.)

"I am the first..." (It's me, — Jesus. Remember the fishing boat so full it was sinking and how it changed your life forever?)

"...and the last," (It's me. Really. Remember my post-resurrection visits? Our last times together? Surely you recognize at least some of that version of Me?)

"...and the living One;" (Which reminds me. The Resurrection!)

"I was dead," (You alone were there. Calvary. Golgotha. In all the most important times, it was always you and me, John.)

"...and behold, I am alive forevermore." (And the tomb? You entered it, but I wasn't there. That tomb held forevermore in it, not death. It's me, John; look a little closer.)

"I have the keys to death and to Hades." (And John? Look what I have. It's important that you don't  lose sight of my victory in all that I am about to show you. You're going to find it a very comforting truth.)


Much of Revelation 1 is devoted to reminders of who Jesus is: v.4-6, v.8, and finally the very personal words spoken straight to John in real time, v.17-18.

These words are hope, reassurance and a comfort. Not just to John, but to me, another disciple that has a history with Jesus. A history that involves my being afraid in light of his power or his holiness. I've wrestled publicly with my fear of God here, herehere, and here just to name a few.

But Revelation is convincing me not to be afraid of Him.

Now that's a sentence I never thought I'd write.

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