THE OTHER DAY IN BIBLE STUDY we looked at the Apostle John’s vision of the risen and glorified Jesus in Revelation 1:12-20. The picture John’s words portray is striking, difficult to imagine. So different from the pictures hanging in our churches of what some artists thought Jesus might look like. I have to admit I like some of the depictions of Jesus that show His compassion, as when He is cradling a lamb. Or ones that reflect joy in His face. In fact I have a picture entitled “The Laughing Jesus” that captures a look of pure joy. This is the Jesus I see when reading the Gospels. This is the Jesus that is my friend. The one who knows what it is like to be human. The one who can identify with my struggles, knows what it is like to be hungry and tired. The one who knows me better than I know myself and still loves me and claims me as HIs own.
Sometimes however, that Jesus who relates to me as a human being, that loving and compassionate Jesus in the artists renderings becomes, in my mind at least, just another friend who may or may not listen when I need to talk. One who may or may not have the power to help when my world seems to be falling apart. And so, I can forget that He is more than just a sweet friend. He is, as He describes Himself in Revelation 1 –“…the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. The One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. He who lives, and was dead, and behold, is alive forevermore.”
John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation was unlike anything John could have imagined when he followed Jesus in His earthly ministry. John knew the loving and compassionate Jesus, the one who laughed, cried, got hungry and tired. He even saw and spent time with the risen Christ. But now, He sees Him as He is in glory and describes Him with word pictures that have a depth of meaning that can’t be conveyed with just a quick glance.
Everything in this description speaks of wisdom, strength, authority, and power. I am reminded that my sweet friend, Jesus, the One who identifies with me in my humanity is the eternal, Almighty God who has His hand on everything from beginning to end. When John sees this vision of Jesus he falls down as if dead, overwhelmed by the sight of His glory. I’m sure I would have too. But then, Jesus touches Him and says the words He so often said when He walked the earth, “Do not be afraid.” The Almighty, powerful God of eternity compassionately and lovingly assures John that there is nothing to fear.
This is the Jesus that holds my world together when everything seems to be falling apart. This is the Jesus that holds your world together too. Not only is He compassionate and loving toward us, He has promised not to leave us or forsake us. He hears us when we call. He answers our prayers according to His perfect will. And He has the power and authority to see us through whatever may come.
For that I am truly thankful. I hope you are too.
Grace and peace,
NOTE: Pastor Pam Sutherland’s charges include Fort Gibson United Methodist Church in Castlewood, VA and St. Paul United Methodist Church in St. Paul, VA.