The First and the Last – Gospel in Life

The First and the Last

Tim Keller |  June 29, 2008

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  • Glorification
Revelation 1:7-20
RS 203-1

Understanding Revelation 1:7–20

Revelation is a book that gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ first visit to John on Patmos, revealing deep truths of the Bible through stark contrasts. These include the two-sided nature of Jesus’ return, John’s mixed feelings of awe and fear, and the simultaneous hardship and brilliance we experience as lampstands. These contrasts are discussed in Jesus’ seven letters to the churches, and they can greatly shape our lives.

1. He’s been, and He’s coming back

The second coming of Jesus Christ is a fundamental part of Christianity, and the Bible confirms that He will return for all to see. This shouldn’t make us obsess over when it will happen, but instead, encourage us to live with more humility, grace, and forgiveness. The thought of Jesus’ return shouldn’t scare us, but should fill us with hope, joy, and a readiness to forgive others.

2. Shocked, yet still standing

When John meets Jesus in Revelation, we see a mighty image of Jesus that contradicts common portrayals of Him as gentle and mild. Even in the face of Jesus’ radiant glory, John isn’t destroyed but comforted, contrary to Old Testament beliefs that viewing God would be deadly. This meeting highlights our deep need for God, and thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, we can experience the joy of God’s glory. This ties in with the teaching that Jesus will return to judge the world.

3. Hurting, yet shining bright

The lampstands represent churches, acting as beacons of God’s light in a dark world, even when facing hardship. Jesus moving amongst the lampstands, similar to a furnace, brings to mind the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, emphasizing God’s presence during tough times. By remembering that Jesus suffered the most on the cross, we can see our own struggles as chances to grow and become better, leading to wisdom, kindness, and a deep gratitude for His sacrifice.



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