Week of December 2
Surprised by Jesus
By Skip Heitzig
I have a confession to make: I am a practical joker. When I hear one of the staff coming, maybe with a cup of coffee, sometimes I will hide behind something, and I’ll jump out and scare them with a loud voice. And they’ll often spill the coffee. I know that one day it’s all going to come back on me!
But with that picture in mind, I think you can understand John’s reaction in Revelation 1 when Jesus Christ appeared to him on the island of Patmos. John says His voice was like a trumpet. It was loud, “as the sound of many waters” (v. 15). It must have startled him, much like my practical jokes startle the staff as I jump out. And John fell at Jesus’ feet.
But I want to draw your attention to what Jesus says about himself. Verse 8 says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” He calls Himself “the First and the Last” in verse 11, and again in verse 17, and He goes on in verse 18, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore.” When Jesus introduces himself to John he unmistakably says that He is deity; He is God. Any Jew who heard this would know that this is reserved only for God. He’s speaking of His eternal nature.
I say all this because I think the modern church needs a new awareness of Jesus Christ, high and lifted up, and in charge. There’s a dangerous lack of reverence in many Christians’ lives. When you see Jesus in glory I think He’s going to surprise you. John’s description of “His eyes like a flame of fire” sounds like a very penetrating gaze, seeing into everybody’s heart. One day the loving, saving Jesus will stand as the judge over all mankind.
Whenever people really encounter God, they get humble. Isaiah said, “Woe is me, I am undone,” and when Peter saw Jesus’ power displayed, he said “Depart from me, I am a sinful man.”
So as we enter the Christmas season, we should remember the true identity of the baby in the manger. You might not be aware of it, but when Isaac Watts wrote the hymn “Joy to the World” he was writing about the second coming of Christ, not the first. As you sing words like “He rules the world with truth and grace,” keep that in mind. Remember to reverence Him, because He is God.
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