Take a look at the picture attached to this article. That tan leisure suit wearing, sly smiling three year old is me. If you don’t fully recognize the resemblance, you are not alone. I have not looked like that for quite some time. I have not worn a suit like that for a very long time.
If you did not know me and all you had to find me was that little photograph, you may or may not be able to ever find me. Though I am still the same guy who was photographed in that suit long ago, a lot has happened in my life since then and a more recent photograph would surely be even more helpful in finding the current me.
I mention this today because right now I am studying the book of Revelation . . . the last book of the New Testament. Though the book of Revelation has been understood and misunderstood in many ways over the past 2,000 years, I believe the primary subject of the book of Revelation is revealed in the first few words of Revelation 1:1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ . . .” Above all, the book of Revelation is the most recent photograph of the Savior that we have been given. The book describes Jesus current appearance, current location, and current and future work. By reading and studying this book, I am not trying to solve a puzzle or resolve some bizarre “Bible Code.” I am reading this book (I believe) as God intended us to read it . . . to expand our conception of Christ to include His most recent revelation.
The book of Revelation was written to a group of people who (if they were old and gray), last saw Christ when they were young and active. The book was written to a people who had hopes of a Kingdom, but had lived through a catastrophe . . . the sacking of Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman leader Titus in 70 AD. The book was written to a people who had hopes of the return of Christ but instead had seen the departure of all their apostles (except one) via persecution and martyrdom. The book was revealed to a man (John) who had hopes of freedom in Christ, but found Himself shackled on the island of Patmos, a prisoner of the state. Given these hard times, it is easy to imagine that John (the human author) might have been scared, discouraged, and downtrodden. Given these hard times, it is possible that John might have wondered where Christ was during these hard times.
In the midst of His struggle, God graciously gave John a revelation of Jesus Christ. While John slaved away on Patmos, Our Heavenly Father gave John a new photograph of the Savior to add to His scrapbook of understanding. The Savior God revealed to John was one of power and not passivity. Beginning in Revelation 1:12-16, Jesus is revealed in a different way than John might have remembered Him during His earthly ministry. While He was still the same Jesus, He was now robed in glorious power and awesome might. I believe this revelation was meant to encourage John in a profound way . . . Jesus was still in charge, and Jesus was still going to win.
I don’t know what you are going through in your life right now that might be discouraging to you in some way. I don’t know what lies ahead for you that makes you tremble or uneasy. Whatever it is, I believe we need to stop and read Revelation 1:1-20 and remember who our God really is. We need this latest revelation to update our photo album of the Savior and see Him for who He really is. When we do, it will encourage us so much to know that He is with us and He tells us what He told John in Revelation 1:17, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”