by David Bryant
June 15, 2016, Front page, Messengers of Hope
Editor’s Note: What was it like for the Apostle John to stand before Jesus? Well, he couldn’t stand—he fell like a dead man. In this meditation, David Bryant invites us to experience Jesus as John did in Revelation 1. Would you be able to stand?
Ponder First: Revelation 1: 9-20
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
Niagara Falls. Three cataracts convulsing into one terrifyingly titanic torrent. 130,000 gallons of river descending every second to form the highest flow rate of any waterfall on the planet.
If you’ve ever visited the natural wonder that commands a portion of the border between the US and Canada, then like millions of others you too have felt yourself minimized by its magnitude. Mesmerized by its magnificence. Enraptured as its quadraphonic-like cannonade drowns out all attempts at conversation.
Niagara Falls. Reverberating. Captivating. Breathtaking.
Believe it or not, there was a moment when a first-century follower of Jesus had a Niagara Falls-type adventure of his own.
Without even being there.
John on Patmos
Come with me into the book of Revelation, as we step into the last miles of the apostle John’s astonishing sixty-year journey.
John sits sidelined, a powerless prisoner of a self-deified emperor. Confined to a Roman gulag. Elderly. Abandoned. Pitiable.
Still, he remains resolutely faithful to his Best Friend Forever for whom he willingly suffers.
Still, he goes on waiting and watching for the Judge of All to act on his behalf.
Still, he remains poised to obey his Lord and Savior, to any extent and at any cost.
That’s because he’s convinced of one truth above all others: Jesus reigns supreme.
But there are even loftier manifestations of this truth about Jesus that John has yet to experience. There’s a Niagara Falls-sized encounter with Jesus looming just around the bend.
John is about to be engulfed in infinity’s effusions, swept up into the vastness of the Victor he adores. He’s about to encounter a wealth of fresh wonders about Jesus—wonders God intends for all of us to behold eventually.
Now mind you, regularly throughout his life John’s ministry was energized by an array of exciting episodes springing from his commitment to Jesus. Across decades this dedicated disciple took part in launching the greatest revolution in human history, serving a spiritual insurgency stretching from Jerusalem to Ephesus to Rome, and beyond.
It started off for him with his three-year apprenticeship as part of the inner circle of the miracle-working Servant of God. It seemed to end one very dark afternoon when he witnessed the inexplicable, sacrificial death of the Lamb of God.
It resumed, however, over the next forty days as he conferred with the risen Messiah of God about his life’s mission (as did his fellow disciples), until the sacred, unrepeatable moment he watched the King ascend to sit with universal authority at the right hand of the throne of the Father.
Then, for the next fifty years, taking advantage of a wide variety of Spirit-devised opportunities, John diligently served the people of God.
As a capstone to all of this, he composed for the Church an exquisite, lyrical treatise about the Son of God, which he ended by telling his readers that there was so much more he knew about Jesus that if he wrote all of it, “I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21).
That’s how thoroughly familiar John considered himself to be with the Savior when we meet up with him on Patmos at what appears to be the close of his earthly life.
Saving the Best for the End
Surprise! Now, though wrinkled, weary and worn, he’s about to enter the crescendo of his life, as he reaches the pinnacle of his extraordinary spiritual journey.
Surprise! Now, though still a political pawn in a Patmos prison, John is about to foresee cosmic events destined to consummate with all earth’s dominions subsumed under Jesus as their one universal sovereign.
Surprise! Now, erroneously perceived as a disenfranchised captive of Caesar, John is about to be liberated by “the Ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5), as Jesus invites him to experience “riches in glory” no magistrate has ever tasted.
Because now . . . seemingly sidelined in solitary confinement, in reality John is about to be ushered into the Control Center of the Cosmos, surrounded by a festive multitude of saints and angels, celebrating the irreversible, redeeming triumphs of the Monarch of Mankind.
Because now . . . in soulful need of spiritual replenishment this faithful martyr is being roused to rendezvous with the Revival Giver he has lived for and loved for so long—to meet him again in a fashion that will make it feel to John as if he actually is meeting his Master for the very first time.
Because now . . . no matter how much he’s temporarily limited by his immediate circumstances, he’s about to discover there’s an unlimited grandeur to God’s Son beyond anything he yet has uncovered—so much grandeur that, as John soon will witness, the entire universe can neither define him or confine him.
Because now . . . Jesus is going to reintroduce himself to John (and to all of us) as One robed with a royal mystery and majesty beyond anything anyone has ever imagined.
Because now . . . John is about to be staggered by a very personal and intimate induction into a bona fide, exhilarating, liberating, God-initiated “Christ Awakening.”
Ready, Set, Go!
So, get ready, John.
Eyes straight ahead. It’s Niagara Falls for you, here on out. No turning back!
Get set, John.
Time to dive into the denouement of all divine decrees, namely that:
Everything about who Jesus is—this One ascended and anointed as Lord of lords; this Potentate of time and eternity; this Liberator of the nations and the ages; this Phenomenal Person who is the laser focus of the Father’s eternal love and everlasting salvation . . .
Everything about who Jesus is—about where he’s headed, about what he’s doing, about how he gets blessed . . .
All of this, and more, is fully and forcefully operative—not out of sight, not off in some far-flung galaxy, not on hold awaiting end-times exhibitions.
No! It’s all right here!
And, most importantly, it is—rather, HE is—not only right here but also . . . right now!
Christ is now—in the rich extent of his fullness and authority and majesty and sovereignty!
Christ is now—not just part of him, but all of him. Not reluctantly but willingly. Not passively but actively. Not temporarily but permanently. Not conditionally but wholeheartedly. Not theoretically but in full reality.
Wake up, John. Guess what? Concerning the Christ who, over all these years, has become your highest passion—well, there’s so much more to him than you suspected.
This is your “day of visitation.”
Shortly, you will report to members of seven Asian congregations this exceptional, electrifying revelation of Jesus. Desperately you will grasp for word pictures that you already know to be inadequate as you attempt to record what you see, writing:
“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me…. one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.”
To which you will respond in the only way you can:
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead…..”
No alternative, John. Overpowered by Jesus’ regal radiance, most definitely you will faint away. Prostrate. Wordless. Spellbound. Short of breath. Smitten by splendor. Stunned by shock and awe!
However, from this encounter there will never, ever be any question about it: Forever, Christ will remain ALL to you . . . even as he will be NOW to you.
From this day forward you’ll be unable—even more, you’ll be unwilling—to settle for anything less.
You have an unprecedented, irreversible appointment with God’s only begotten Son: Unavoidable.
Uncontainable. Unsurpassable. Unforgettable!
Like Niagara Falls.
Response Based on Revelation 1
Dear Father: When I reflect on your majestic Son in all of his ascended glory, then I too, like John, can only fall at his feet to worship him. Through the Christ at your right hand you reassure me every day of my ultimate triumph in him. So, I will not be afraid. Your Son is the First and the Last. He is the Living One. He died for me. He came back to life for me! For me he holds the keys to the destruction of death and Hades, keys that also unlock a whole new destiny with him for me. Therefore, Father, once again I gladly give myself to him to live for him, without reservation—both for now and forevermore. Amen