Please read Revelation 1:4-20 in your Bible. I used the NIV (1984) to prepare this article.
If you were asked, “What kind of savior do you want?” How would you reply? Some would question whether they need a savior at all. Many people assume they’re good enough to deserve a place in heaven or deny that heaven exists at all.
Biblically, we know that is nonsense. No one is good enough, because God’s standard is perfection and none of us can live up to that. We all need a savior as human nature alone keeps us out of heaven.
In an article entitled, “Why do I need a Savior?” Eric Segalini compared human nature with the famous literary character Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde. After a disturbing dream, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote feverishly for days to complete the book. Segalini sees the dual nature of the title character as illustrating the dual nature of every human being.
Dr. Jekyll is a symbol of the polite, public side of most people while Mr. Hyde is the private side that we want to “hide” from others. You recall that the story revolves around the good doctor’s experiments leading to a formula that split his personality and transformed him physically.
Eventually, the brutal Mr. Hyde committed murder. His evil alter ego showed up at bad times and fought Dr. Jekyll for dominance. It was Hyde that murdered, but Jekyll was no less guilty. The two personalities shared the guilt, and that’s how we can show everyone needs a Savior without having to open our Bible. Every person with enough sense to be honest must concede to having their own Mr. Hyde.
Segalini concludes: “Instead of leaving us to the harsh demands of justice, Jesus stepped in on our behalf. He extended both justice and mercy. He offered to be our Savior.
“If we come to Jesus in surrender, sick by our sin and certain of justice’s demands, He will take our place.
“In exchange for our sin, Jesus gives us love, gives us hope, gives us Himself.
“Things didn’t end well for Jekyll, by the way. He kept thinking he had Hyde under control, but they both wound up dead.
“The good Dr. Jekyll disappeared first.
“Jekyll and Hyde’s case is not as strange as the novel’s title suggests. The problem isn’t out there; the problem is me.
“I know what I need, like it or not. I need a Savior.
“Because my dark side lurks. And so does yours.”
We learned Wednesday night at our Study of Proverbs that the “foolish” or ungodly person is self-deceived. They have rejected God on the basis of the mistaken belief that they are OK all on their own. This is a difficult deception to dislodge. Once the problem of sin becomes personal, the search for the Savior can rightly begin.
Only the Son of Man is powerful enough to save us.
The descriptions of Jesus in Revelation 1 point to a powerful being.
Vs. 4 + 8 = HIM WHO IS, WHO WAS, WHO IS TO COME.
V. 4 = He is enthroned = He exercises His authority.
V. 5 = THE FAITHFUL WITNESS = He is trustworthy and truthful.
V. 5 = FIRSTBORN OF THE DEAD = He leads us to life.
V. 5 = RULER OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH = He triumphs.
V. 6 = He MADE US TO BE A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS TO SERVE HIS GOD AND FATHER = He delegates power for service.
V. 6 = TO HIM BE GLORY AND POWER FOR EVER AND EVER!
V. 7 = HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS = Just as He ascended.
V. 7 = ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN BECAUSE OF HIM = Self-condemned people will lost.
V. 8 = ALPHA AND OMEGA, FIRST AND LAST (v. 17)
V. 8 = THE ALMIGHTY = Jesus has all power.
V. 13 = “LIKE A SON OF MAN” = Jesus is divinely empowered.
V. 13 = DRESSED IN A ROBE REACHING DOWN TO HIS FEET.
V. 13 = WITH A GOLDEN SASH AROUND HIS CHEST.
V. 14 = HIS HEAD AND HAIR WERE WHITE LIKE WOOL, AS WHITE AS SNOW = Jesus has a purity of spirit.
V. 14 = HIS EYES WERE LIKE A BLAZING FIRE = He judges fairly.
V. 15 = HIS FEET WERE LIKE BRONZE GLOWING IN A FURNACE.
V. 15 = HIS VOICE WAS LIKE THE SOUND OF RUSHING WATERS.
V. 16 = IN HIS RIGHT HAND HE HELD SEVEN STARS.
V. 16 = OUT OF HIS MOUTH CAME A SHARP DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD.
A SHARP DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD is a biblical symbol of judgment. Hebrews 4:12 is the example of how the word of God cuts through the externals and reveals a person’s true self: FOR THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND ACTIVE. SHARPER THAN ANY DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD, IT PENETRATES EVEN TO DIVIDING SOUL AND SPIRIT, JOINTS AND MARROW; IT JUDGES THE THOUGHTS AND ATTITUDES OF THE HEART. As words come out of a person’s MOUTH, this is an obvious symbol of Jesus’ pronouncing judgment.
V. 16 = HIS FACE WAS LIKE THE SUN SHINING IN ALL ITS BRILLIANCE.
This reminds us of the account of Jesus’ Transfiguration (see Matthew 17; Mark 9; Luke 9), where we read THERE HE WAS TRANSFIGURED BEFORE THEM. HIS FACE SHONE LIKE THE SUN, AND HIS CLOTHES BECAME AS WHITE AS THE LIGHT. In the Bible, the presence of God is often described as a brilliant light and is called the “glory” of God. Artists have illustrated this brilliance by painting a halo around the head of Jesus.
The descriptions of Jesus in Revelation 1 point to a Savior.
V. 5 = HIM WHO LOVES US AND HAS FREED US FROM OUR SINS BY HIS BLOOD.
LOVE is something easily claimed; it is proven by sacrifice for the beloved. That’s why John’s claim Jesus loves us is paired with the greatest evidence; His self-sacrifice for us. Jesus demonstrated His love by freeing us from slavery to our sin nature and from the penalty for our sins. His death on the cross did it.
In the Old Testament, blood sacrifice was the God-given means to forgive sin. As Paul explained in HBS 9:22, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of there is no forgiveness.” When Jesus came, God did not just drop that system. He accepted Jesus’ blood as the final and perfect sacrifice, satisfying forever the demand for blood. In 1 John 1:7 it is written, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
V. 7 = EVERY EYE WILL SEE HIM, EVEN THOSE WHO PIERCED HIM.
This is borrowed from Zechariah 12:10: THEY WILL LOOK ON ME, THE ONE THEY HAVE PIERCED. This verse tells us two things about the Second Coming. One, everyone will see Jesus at the same time. This is possible because He is God and is present everywhere at once. Two, to people who reject Him, it will be a sudden reversal of what they expected. This will be as Jesus warned in Matthew 24:37-38 and Luke 17:27; “People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.”
It’s natural to expect things to continue in the way we’re used to – some people can be quite insistent on it – but people of faith are supposed to know better. Jesus’ Second Coming will bring about the completed work of God and with it, a complete change to life and the world as we know it.
V. 18 = THE LIVING ONE: “I WAS DEAD AND BEHOLD I AM ALIVE FOR EVER AND EVER!”
His death on the cross is not the end of Jesus’ story. He does not remain dead, but is alive; THE LIVING ONE. This expression is used of God the Father, enthroned in Revelation 4:10 and 10:6. We have identical descriptions of God the Father and God the Son, showing they are as one. Jesus was not defeated by death; He lives and defeated death: THE LAST ENEMY TO BE DEFEATED IS DEATH. (1 Corinthians 15:26)
V. 18 = “I HOLD T KEYS OF DEATH & HADES.”
Biblically, KEYS are a symbol of authority. In Matthew 16:19 Jesus said to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus holds two keys. One is the key to DEATH. The One who has authority over DEATH has the authority to give life. The other is the key to HADES. This Greek word refers to a place where the spirits of the dead reside until the Second Coming. It is equivalent to the Hebrew word sheol; it is not a place of torment; it is just a kind of residence or holding area. This is consistent between Jewish beliefs and Greek mythology.
Only the Son of Man is powerful enough to save us.
Another way to approach the self-reliant person is to invite them to think about what they have based their self-view on. A person’s self-worth is likely based on these five areas:
- Approval from others.
- Your character.
- Your faith.
The first three items on that list are material, worldly, and temporary. Character takes some time to form and good character takes the Holy Spirit and some effort on our part to achieve, but can still be subject to compromise and change. It’s only the fifth item that is unchanging and reliable.
Here’s a new thought: what we believe about Jesus Christ is the only good basis for what we believe about ourselves. It is ironic, but a faithful focus on Jesus is the surest foundation for our self-image.
Here in Revelation 1, we have seen the divine side of Jesus emphasized. We have had our hope in Him renewed by focusing on the Second Coming. When we center our life on the person of Jesus, we will be less invested in what others think of us, how we appear to them, what worldly achievements we have piled up, and even our own personal growth. What should be most determinative of who we are is who Jesus is. When we seek to duplicate Jesus in what we say and do, one of the beneficial effects is that we find freedom from worries about anything this world says about us. The truth sets us free!
The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Leon Morris