The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (vv. 1–2).
– Revelation 1
The last one-on-one encounter with Jesus recorded in the New Testament is found in today’s passage, the opening chapter of the book of Revelation. We read of the vision that John the Apostle had of Jesus while he was exiled on the isle of Patmos because of his fidelity to the gospel (Rev. 1:9).
Since it was written, the book of Revelation has been one of the most beloved and controversial books of the New Testament. It has occupied a central place in discussions of eschatology—the doctrine of last things—and people continue to debate the meaning of the complex imagery found in the book and what it says about the end times. What is often missed in these eschatological discussions, however, is that the book is less about foreseeing a definite sequence of end-time events and more about revealing the exalted Christ in all His glory and power. Fundamentally, the book is about the triumph of our Savior over all His enemies and His reign over all of His creation.
John’s vision occurred while he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (v. 10). Evidently, at one point during his stay on Patmos, John had a mystical experience of some kind on the first day of the week, for the early church referred to the first day as the “Lord’s Day.” On that Lord’s Day, Jesus spoke to John directly, revealing Himself as “one like a son of man” in His heavenly throne room (vv. 11–14). John uses imagery from Daniel 7:13–14 in calling Jesus “a son of man,” for in that prophetic text we read about one “like a son of man” who receives all authority over creation. John is telling us that Jesus has all rule and authority.
In the same portion of Daniel’s vision, the Ancient of Days—God Himself—appears wearing white clothing and having hair that is the purest white in color (Dan. 7:9). Jesus has the same white hair in John’s vision, thereby revealing Himself as the one, true God (Rev. 1:14). The whiteness of His hair is also symbolic of His wisdom, which comes to pass in His perfect divine judgment. After all, Jesus’ eyes are “like a flame of fire” in their intensity—He can examine all things and see through to the truth of any matter. He also has strong feet and a booming voice, both of which display His power to bring His will and justice to pass (vv. 14–15).
Confronted with such a vision, what can one do but worship? And that is just what John did, bowing down before Jesus, the Lord God Almighty (vv. 17–18).
Worship is the natural outflow of a true encounter with Jesus. If we are not motivated to worship our Savior, then we may not actually know Him. If we want to worship but feel something is amiss, it may be that we need a fresh encounter with Christ in His Word. Let us meditate on God’s Word that we might be reminded of Christ’s glory and be motivated to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Passages for Further Study
2 Corinthians 4:1–6
(Source: Devotional by Ligonier Ministries — the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul)