“Jesus, Lord of His Church”

Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.”

Recently, I began reading again through the book of Revelation.  I am always amazed at the layers of symbolism and significance to this book, as well as the interpretive questions that remain unanswered.  I am also readily sobered by the first major section, which depicts the ascended Jesus speaking to His church.  These were known and prominent cities in Asia Minor, the region of western modern-day Turkey.  Many, like Ephesus, had become important hubs of Christianity by the time John receives his revelation.  Jesus speaks to each church, commending and/or confronting them accordingly.  It is fairly popular to view these as representative of different ages of church history, or of typical kinds of churches.  But I see no reason to take them as other than literal messages to these churches at the time.  They faced problems from without and within; Jesus speaks to these.  We can learn timeless truths from His interaction with them.

The majority of the book is built on what John sees and hears in various interrelated visions.  This makes the book “apocalyptic” in genre, a more specific visual/audio sub-genre of prophecy.  Much of the writing is a record of what he sees and hears.  In this first major section (chapters 2-3), John sees and hears from the resurrected/ascended Christ directly (1:9-20), who tasks him to write these messages (1:11).  He is depicted holding seven stars in His right hand and walking among seven golden lampstands.  The stars represent the “angels” of the churches.  The lamps represent the churches (1:20).

Two major features stand out in these chapters – both are Christological in nature.  Jesus walks amongst the lampstands and gives His detailed appraisal of each church.  This conveys the first universal truth that He is intimately acquainted with every local church.  Should we limit His knowledge and direct involvement to just these seven?  Would it be a stretch to say that these messages represent how Jesus Himself views each local church?  I don’t think so.  Therefore, we exist, minister, serve, work, live, worship, teach, bless, confront, persevere, pray, sing, do maintenance, make decisions, struggle, – all before His gaze.  Wow!  We should respond to this truth like a new company of privates hearing that a general is entering their barracks. As Jesus sees our church, our lives, our ministries, our hearts, what we have labored for, how we have persevered, how we have sinned – what will He confront?  What will He commend?  Oh, that we would all stand at His attention, ready to persevere or repent where needed!

The second feature is the way each message begins with a unique description of Christ (2:1, 2:8b, 2:12b, 2:18b, 3:1b, 3:7b, 3:14b).  These remind the recipient of the divine and eternal nature of Christ.  To Smyrna it is, “The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says…”  To Thyatira, “The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire…”  How frightening to hear a rebuke from the omnipotent and omniscient Christ!  But also, how eternally comforting to hear His commendation.  Oh, how this should fuel our prayers for Calvary as a whole!  Oh, how this should inform our obedience to Jesus, individually!

In each of our avenues of ministry, even in our role as members at Calvary, let us conduct ourselves in the church, as before Christ Himself.  In reverence and love, “…perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” (2 Cor. 7:1), making it our ambition to be pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5:9).  

Thanks! See you Sunday,

Pastor Dave

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