As I continue to read slowly through the final book of the NT in the original language, I look for help.
What was John thinking and feeling when he wrote these things down?
What were the thoughts and emotions of the first hearers?
It is possible all my assumptions are wrong but I cannot help but imagine John is writing to those who are on the edge.
The edge of trouble.
The edge of faithfulness…faithlessness.
The edge of apostasy.
The edge of failure.
The edge of life, with death below.
And so the words in the greeting are not to be passed over as quickly as I would normally. They are the words of the Lord himself. Their Lone Hope is addressing them. And for those wavering, the hope they are tempted to forsake.
I have felt the jagged edge before. Nothing like what they are dealing with, I know. But I’ve wondered about the quality of my newborn wired to so many machines in intensive care. I’ve had all the doubts. I’ve felt the pressure of others pushing against the tender parts of my faith.
I’ve stared at the future and strained to see the light in the darkness.
As some of you have.
Our contexts are different from those in the first century, but our hearts beat the same.
So when I read these words over and over again, familiarizing myself with each word, I had a thought – only those who have need will want to be reminded that Jesus rules over the kings of the earth. The ones who wonder when all the pain will end will be glad to know he is the Alpha and the Omega. And only those who have suffered from those who trade in power will be glad to hear he is all-powerful.
Twice he says he is the one who is and who was and who is to come. It’s a reminder that this word of prophecy is about what he has done and what he is doing and what is coming. And he is the ruling King over all of it.
And for those who seem to be suffering from time’s relentless march and the year’s thieving demands, knowing the One who has bought us with his blood, is beyond time itself is grace.
Many of you are worried about what is coming. You are worried about your family. You are concerned about your health. You are frightened about the world that is changing before your eyes. The future is dark and you feel as if you are on the edge of something. I know the feeling.
So hearing he loves us is great. Sure. But hearing he is at once loving and all-powerful and not bound by the same things that constrain us is a good reminder when you are on the edge.
The darkness becomes less.
I needed to read this today. Thanks, Matt. Sometimes there is that fleeting thought, “Is all this following Jesus worth it?” I have thought that a few times over the last week. The pain of this world, at times, just keeps coming and coming and coming. You wonder, even if for an instant, might there be at least SOME relief in living for yourself . . . giving in to those things that our televisions, movie screens and advertisers tell us will bring us happiness. Those thoughts aren’t constant, they are flashes, but they are still there.
Yesterday I was reminded, in prayer, that Jesus in control of everything, even if I don’t realize it. There was comfort to my restless soul in that. And today, your post, drove the point home even more, once again providing a cool cup of water.
“Twice he says he is the one who is and who was and who is to come. It’s a reminder that this word of prophecy is about what he has done and what he is doing and what is coming. And he is the ruling King over all of it.”
I’ve wondered why during the communion service, as we “remember” what He has done for us, we are not also reminded of the significance of doing this “until He comes again.” It seems to me that elements of the bread and the wine should remind us not only of what He has done, but that He is coming again and will make all things right. It’s like we are holding prophecy in our hands.
Perhaps knowing Him in your heart of hearts and hearing his voice in the darkness are enough to get through. He is able.
He is able.
In my darkest hour of being diagnosed with cancer, He wrapped me up in grace that felt like a bubble wrap of protection and whispered to my heart, “Be at peace. All is well.”
Grace is the train ticket Corrie ten Boom spoke about that you get when you get on the train and I was perhaps stunned and surprised to find that as the words poured out of my doctor’s mouth, “You have cancer,” that the Lord surrounded me in love and I felt no fear or anxiety and don’t to this day. This is the grace that Paul wrote about constantly and I would not have believed it unless I had experienced it myself.