2nd Sunday before Advent – Sermon 35

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to Start

May the words of my lips and the thought of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ



"Lo He comes with clouds descending
Once for favoured sinners slain
Thousand, thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train,

Christ appears on earth to reign!"
The first verse of the hymn we have just sung

Is that how – we see Christ on this earth today –
Supreme and in charge

Its certainly how John sees Him – A chosen King exercising His rule and judgement and visible to all

The revelation of John was written at a time when the infant churches were being persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord – the Roman authorities were starting to enforce the cult of Emperor worship – Nobody knew who they could trust – or whether they would live to see another day – false teachings and a policy of compromise was finding its way into the infant churches – and many were beginning to doubt – to lose hope and question the promises that Jesus had made – wondering whether He would ever return –

John’s book was written to urge them to remain faithful whatever happens –

Our NT reading provides us with an introduction to his book and a description of his vision of Jesus Christ –

We are going to look at it to see if it helps us in our understanding of how we should see Christ today –

Point 1 – know who is in charge

Revelation means – uncovering of something hidden – John tells us in the first verse of his book – that the ultimate source of the Revelation is God Himself – He gave it to Jesus Christ – for the benefit of the church – and it was sent through a mediator to John – and John in turn – was commanded to write it down for the benefit of the seven churches – and the whole of God’s church

John uses highly symbolic and coded language for the description of his visions – in order to obscure the meaning to the authorities – the style is typical of the apocalyptic literature of the time – and the codes are so effective – that few people today can agree on exactly what they mean –

Even so – for the small band of Christians it was important that Christ is seen for what He really is – that all the glory and majesty of the risen Christ is made clear to them – John describes his vision of Jesus as being “clothed in a long robe with a golden girdle around His breast” – a reference to Him as the high priest – “His head and hair are as white as wool” – a sign of wisdom and dignity – “eyes blazing like fire – and feet like burnished bronze” – indicating great insight.

He shows Jesus holding 7 stars – in His right hand – and a – sharp two-edged sword proceeding from His mouth symbolising power and justice over the known universe – and man’s destiny – “His face shining like the sun in full strength” – appearing dazzling and terrible to His foes –

John’s picture is one of Christ the mighty conqueror exercising divine judgement –

As far as John was concerned – it wasn’t a question of winning the battle – the battle was already won –

Point 2 Keep faith – do not be afraid

John’s vision was not only given to inspire belief and hope – but also faith – faith that despite the oppression and suffering – for those who maintain their faith in Jesus Christ – victory is assured –

Faith in the bible means – trust and reliance – Israel’s faith was based on God’s revelation of Himself to the patriachs, to Abraham, to Moses – and to His covenant with David – The people were obedient because they believed that God would stand by His promises

In our OT reading we see David – the king chosen by God exercising his judgement to appoint Solomon as his successor – he does not plan for the preliminary stages alone – but for the actual anointing and crowning of Solomon as king –

To ride on David’s own mule was a public proclamation that Solomon’s succession to the throne was sanctioned by Him –

The people believed that through David and his chosen successor – the promised eternal dynasty would be carried forward – and God’s promise of salvation for His people will be fulfilled –

Throughout His book John consistently makes use of words and concepts associated in the OT with God – the description in his vision of Christ uses words that are similar to those used in the book of Daniel and Isaiah – The words "He who is, who was and who is to come" – is a title used in the OT for God the Father – stressing His eternity and His vital relationship with history –

The last clause – "who is to come" instead of "who will be" is also a conscious allusion to the second coming of Christ – the most important event of the future –

Christ Himself is not only the mighty victor – the ruler of the kings of the earth – but also the faithful witness – telling of and showing God’s love to all He met –

In v 18 – John brings out the significance of the resurrection – Christ’s victory over death was of key importance to the early Christians as it is for us today – Jesus has the power and authority over life itself – and has conquered all our known and unknown fears – He is the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end – symbolised by the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet – God is before all things and outlasts all things –

Jesus has the keys – and at the time of the end – He will release His faithful followers

Everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus must face the same incisive questions and decisions that those early Christians faced –

Does our faith really reflect that in Christ – we not only have the resources to meet our problems head on – but to win them over –

Do we expect victory – or do we resign ourselves to spiritual moral defeat – and don’t try –

if we expect nothing to happen – nothing will –

Through faith in Christ we can overcome our fears

Through faith in Christ we are saved

Point 3

In John’s vision we see hope – we see faith – we also see Christ’s capacity for love

His vision shows Jesus in the midst of His people – the lamp stands are His church – the stars are the angels of those churches – which He holds in His right hand – which symbolises protection and favour –

He takes action for the needs of His whole church –

and He takes action for the needs of the individual

John himself could not stand the sight of the vision he had seen

And in the reading he tells us – Jesus responded to his distress – putting His right hand on him –

His words "do not be afraid” are words that Jesus used many times – to put people at ease – while walking on this earth –

In verse 5 – John describes Jesus as "Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins with His blood – who has made us a Royal house to serve as priests of God the Father "

Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins – so we might be forgiven and brought back to God –

Through the deliverence wrought by His death and resurrection – Jesus has paid the price for our wrong doings – our past mistakes are forgiven

all who are broken from the bondage of sin – through Christ -are made part of His kingdom –

Love is the power that gives life meaning – and
Jesus’ love is the power that gives life –

John encourages us to choose Christ’s way –

If we trust in Jesus we need never fear again – His perfect love casts out our fears – the more His love can enter into us – the more the fear will flow out –

Through Jesus – our guilt is gone – and we are forgiven – and God’s grace restores us and makes us whole again –



So how do we see Christ?

Do we – like John – truly believe that nothing can happen today – or tomorrow – that Jesus Christ cannot handle? –

Or is our vision of Jesus – blurred by today’s unbelieving world – do we allow our faith to be compromised – by the things that happen around us – do we do things Christ’s way or the world’s way?

The early Christians were facing what many would regard as a hopeless task – but John tells them that through Christ they have already won – their victory is assured – all we have to do is believe it!

And its the same for us – whatever problems we are faced with – whatever fears and anxieties trouble us – In Christ there is nothing that cannot be overcome – In Him we not only have the strength and power to succeed – but the victory too

John’s revelation is a message of hope – of keeping the faith – and of looking forward to Christ’s victorious return

Next month we will be in the season of Advent –

Advent too is about hope – preparing ourselves in faith – for the coming of God’s greatest gift of love – Jesus Christ –

Let us re-think again how we see Christ in our lives

– we must see Him for who He really is – the Son of God – put Him at the centre of our lives – and realise that His promise – that "I am coming soon" -is no idle promise but a glorious prospect –


In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit