What does Jesus look like? If you are like me and you close your eyes and ponder for a moment, you will see the image attached to this post . . . a brown wavy haired, blue eyed gentle man who is peaceful and serene. This image of Christ is one that has been made popular in paintings that probably adorned the walls of your Sunday School classroom years ago. The Jesus in this painting is quiet and reflective. When I am quiet and reflective, this is the Jesus that I turn to . . . however, my life is often not quiet or reflective, so what do I do?
It is interesting to me that when Jesus writes letters to seven churches in Asia in Revelation 2-3, He does not simply sign His name “Jesus.” Instead, He adds a personal descriptor to His signature to remind all His followers who were living in a not so quiet or reflective world who He was and what He was about.
To the church in Ephesus who were maintaining all their religious activities, but had forgotten to maintain their love relationship with God, He reminded them that He was the one who “walks among the seven golden lampstands (Revelation 2:1).” The lampstands were symbols of the church, so Jesus was reminding them that He was with them and welcomed a renewal of a deep relationship.
To the persecuted church in Smyrna who were being beaten and killed for their faith in Christ, Jesus reminds them that He is “the First and the Last, who died and came to life again (Revelation 2:8).” What great comfort the people of Smyrna could gain by remembering that He who was also persecuted was raised in triumph!
To the truth challenged church in Pergamum who had grown lax in their defense of the Gospel truth, Jesus revealed Himself as the one who has “the sharp, double-edged sword” coming from His mouth (Revelation 2:12). Jesus spoke truth and He would judge on the basis of that, so the church in Pergamum would do well to study and apply the truth of Christ instead of the errors of their day.
To the mixed bag of believers in Thyatira, Jesus revealed Himself as the one who had “eyes like blazing fire (Revelation 2:18).” Thyatira was a church where some were believing and some were rebelling and Jesus wanted the faithful people there to take heart that Jesus had piercing vision who could decipher the wheat from the chaff.
To the hollow church in Sardis where they were keeping up appearances but practicing wickedness, Jesus revealed Himself as the One who “holds the seven Spirits of God (Revelation 3:1).” This claim that Jesus held the full Spirit of God was meant as a reminder that Jesus saw beyond the physical world of reputations to understand the unseen spiritual world and what was going on in their hearts.
To the small, poor, and seemingly insignificant church in Philadelphia, Jesus revealed Himself as the One who “holds the key of David (Revelation 3:7).” The One who holds the key to the kings treasury is the One who can give or withhold blessing. Jesus wanted the Philadelphians to know that though they were poor now, they would be rewarded later for their faithfulness.
To the lukewarm church in Laodicea, Jesus revealed Himself as the “Ruler of God’s Creation (Revelation 3:14).” Lest the Laodiceans begin to think that they were the rulers of their own universe, Jesus wanted them to bow to Him as their King and stop riding the fence.
As I read these descriptions, it is a reminder to me that when we come to Jesus, we need to remember who He is. While the quiet and reflective Jesus is comforting some times, other times I need to remember His closeness, or His victory over the grave, or His truthfulness, or His ability to see all, or His Spirit, or His ability to bless, or His role as King. Since people are different and circumstances are different from one person to the next and from one moment to the next, Jesus reveals Himself in all of His glory to us, so that as we approach Him, we know that He is there for all of our needs.
The next time your life is not quiet or reflective, close your eyes and think about Christ. Think not only of His appearance but of His signature. There is a signature feature of His character which is most appropriate for where you are. When we do we will find encouragement and challenge for every situation.