Friday, July 12, 2013

Wanting More of Jesus Strengthening Love - Revelation 1:17-18

Revelation 1:17-18 "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying,Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades."

In yesterday's post we began considering the idea of wanting more of Jesus Christ.  The cry of my heart this week has been: I want more of Jesus.  The Apostle John enables us to meet that need.  We saw yesterday in Revelation 1:12-16 we discovered the first reason to want more of Jesus: His shining light.  As the Savior and Lord amidst the golden lampstands of His church, Jesus Christ shines in her midst. Likewise from Revelation 1:16 we discovered Jesus Christ's face shining like the brilliance of the sun in its strength as the light over His church.  As 1 John 1:7 notes: "If we walk in the light even as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

In today's post we consider a second reason for wanting more of Jesus: His Strengthening Comfort.

The Strengthening Love of Jesus.  Revelation 1:17-18
How Jesus has strengthened others with His love
Once John saw the complete view of the Glorified Ascended Savior, the text tells us that: "I fell at His feet like a dead man."  The prophet Daniel, writing 600 years or so before John, had a similar response to seeing Jesus Christ before the flesh.  In Daniel 10:9-10 we read: "So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength. But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground."  The phrase translated "deathly pallor" in 10:8 could also be rendered from the original language "my inner strength left me, my health suddenly went the other direction and my body began to destroy itself to death."  

Like John, Daniel's vision of the Heavenly Christ resulted in the same effects on his physical being.  Remarkably and wonderfully, both men received the same response from the Savior.  In Daniel's experience the Pre-incarnated Christ dispatched an angelic emissary to say to him in Daniel 10:12 "Do not be afraid".  In John's experience the Incarnate Christ skipped the angel and went to John Himself and told John in Revelation 1:17 "Do not be afraid, I am the First and the last."

Jesus Christ strengthened both John and Daniel with His love.  Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus uttering these strong and loving words: "Fear Not."  For example when the disciples were caught in the middle of a storm, Jesus walked out to them on the water and yelled out to them: "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid." (Matthew 14:17)  When Peter, James and John followed Jesus up to the Mount of Transfiguration, and they saw a glimpse of His Divine glory, fear entered into their hearts.  Yet Jesus told them in Matthew 17:7 "Get up and do not be afraid."  Then of course when Jesus was giving His disciples their final instructions before ascending into Heaven, He told them in Matthew 28:10 "Do not be afraid."  

Wanting more of Jesus will result in you be strengthened by His love Do you know that the Apostle John was present there for all of those episodes, and now He was hearing those familiar words from His Master: "Do not be afraid."  Jesus was strengthening Him with His love.  Do you know that Jesus does that for you and me dear Christian? His strengthening love of affirmation: "fear not", is given to us by the Holy Spirit as explained in 2 Timothy 1:7 "for we have not been given a Spirit of fear, but rather of love, power and a sound mind."  Whenever you are worrying, we take our prayers to Him and the promise is given of the "peace of God surpassing all understanding" being the guard over our hearts in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) 

In all these passages where Jesus is saying "do not fear", He is getting His people ready for a greater level of ministry and Christian living.  Whenever you and I are challenged to grow or reach out to others, it can be scary and overwhelming.  Nevertheless Jesus' strengthening love will raise us up to stand on our feet and do the Master's bidding.  

How we know Jesus is able to strengthen us with love that is greater than our need
The strengthening love of Jesus is more than enough, based upon the fact of Who He is and what He is able to do.  In the remainder of Revelation 1:18 we find four descriptive titles of Jesus:

a. "I am the first and the last".  He shares in the same Deity as the Father, who in Isaiah 44:6 identifies Himself as "the first and the last", as well as Revelation 1:8.  

b. "the the Living One, who was dead, behold I am alive forever more." Jesus is more powerful than death, for he raised from the dead.

c. "I have the keys of death and hades".  Jesus' strengthening love is far more powerful than satan, who at one time had the power of death until Christ snatched it from him in His resurrection. (Hebrews 2:14-15)  The strengthening love of Jesus Christ ensures the victory of believers and the church in accomplishing the mission given to her by the Lord - not even hell can defeat the church. (Matthew 16:18)

My prayer is that you and I would want more of Jesus.  His strengthening love tells us "do not fear".  Let us rest in Him today and seek Him with all of our heart.