Sunday, November 2, 2014

Revelation 1:13-20


I am fascinated by this fresco painted up in the ceiling of one of the side chapels inside the magnificent Salzburg Cathedral in Austria.  This is the type of picture that makes scripture seem to come alive and pop off the page for me.  Although it doesn't include every single detail in the verses that it visualizes, for me it captures the spirit of the message that John writes to us in Revelation the first chapter.

"...in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band... He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, 'Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last.  I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.  The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.'"

That is a long passage of scripture, but it is captured so well in the painting.  Notice the water in the background below the cloud -- John was on the Island of Patmos as a prisoner when he had this vision of past, present and future events.  

One of the apparent inaccuracies might be that John is portrayed in this picture as very young -- more like the youth who walked as a disciple with Jesus than the old man he had become at the time he was on the island and wrote Revelation (he was probably in his mid-80s).  Rather than being inaccurate though, I see something infinitely beautiful in that portrayal.  I see Jesus viewing His dear son John as the young man he would always be to Him.  I believe that as our Father, God always sees His children as young and beautiful.  And, isn't the spirit within us always younger than our outsides would indicate?  Also, in verse 10, John indicated that he was "in the Spirit" when he had this vision.

I'm not offering up a commentary on this passage of scripture, but just this painting to help you visualize a moment in time that happened a little less than 2,000 years ago and continues to offer a message to the church today.  I will simply repeat what Jesus Himself says to each of the seven churches (and to each of us who are a part of His church):  "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches..."

I suggest you read Revelation 2-3 to see what the Spirit says to the seven churches.




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