Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Comfort of Christ's Victory

As I refresh my heart this night with the message that I will attempt to deliver to my people in church tomorrow, I am challenged, encouraged and blessed. I have been thinking about Jesus' appearance and message to the aged and beloved John in Revelation 1:8, 17-18. John was the last of the apostles. They were all gone now, except him. He could close his eyes and recall those exciting days when he and James had first followed the itinerant Rabbi from Nazareth. He could blank everything from his mind and remember. He could remember the sound of Jesus' voice as He preached and taught the Word to the people. He could remember the sound of the stunned gasping of the crowd as Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. He remembered the tears of those whom Jesus had saved from sin. He remembered the deep and abiding gratitude of healed lepers. He also remembered when Jesus had sent the apostles out to preach. He was there when Christ commissioned them to go and preach to the world. But now John was alone on an isolated island, separated from all opportunity to preach and all he held dear.

But suddenly Jesus appeared miraculously to John and said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega...who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty...Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One...I was dead...behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Revelation 1:8, 17-18). What did Jesus mean by all of this? Did Jesus mean to encourage John? I believe He did. But He spoke words that are not only intended to encourage John, but us as well. What did John understand in the words of Jesus? What does Jesus want us to understand in these words? How can this passage challenge and bless us Christians as we sail into the waters of a new year?

The central issue of this theophany to John is the VICTORY OF CHRIST. The Christian faith centers on the victory of the Lord Jesus. Jesus Christ is victorious over evil, sin, Satan, and death. Jesus Christ is Master over history and the entire world. Jesus says in John 5 that the Father had entrusted to Him the authority to judge the human race, and Jesus would give His people eternal life and raise them from the dead. Jesus' victory engages life's realities. Christians live their lives facing the realities of their struggles with the knowledge and application of the Lord's victory. No matter what hardships befall us, we are strong in the Lord's victory. Jesus' victory is timeless; it is trans-generational, transcultural, and transhistorical. It is consummate and immutable. Jesus' victory is total, sovereign, absolute, and complete. Nothing can take the believer from the Lord's hands. And finally, Jesus' victory is over death and Hades. Even the great enemy, death, must give way to KING JESUS. Because our resurrected Lord lives, we shall live also. Not even death can separate us from our precious Lord! All of these ideas are interwoven into the passage in Revelation chapter 1. John understood it, and he rejoiced greatly. We must understand and rejoice as well. Although we do not know what lies across our paths in the future, we know that in Jesus, the ever living and victorious Savior and Lord, we too are "more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)" through Him who loves us.

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