The Coming of Jesus and the Mystery of John

Wim Malgo (1922-1992)

An interpretation of the last book of the Bible. Part 8. Revelation 1:3-7.

John writes, “…the time is at hand” (Rev 1:3). According to God’s calendar, the world is at the end of its time. With the birth of the Lord Jesus, His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost, human history entered into not just a pivotal stage, but also its last concluding one. That’s why it says, “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…” (Heb 1:2). At the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Peter knew, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:16-17).

Thus, strictly speaking, end time history (in the sense of the New Testament) isn’t just the history of the very last period. Rather, the whole of New Testament salvation history is gradually arriving at the completion of end time history. The apostles and the first Christians lived in recognition of this. That’s why they couldn’t possibly have said, “My Lord isn’t coming for a long time” two millennia ago, as the wicked servant in Matthew 24:48 did. Even then they were consciously living in the last hour, in the end time, and that’s why certainty was at the center of their thought, speech, and actions: Jesus is coming! That was their motivation.

However, we’re no longer living in the last hour of salvation history, but in the last second! “Behold, he cometh with clouds.”

Who were the first recipients of the Revelation of Jesus Christ as given through John? After the powerful introduction, he turns directly to them. It seems almost Old Testament-like when he begins writing in letter form in verse 4: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is…” Whoever is born again belongs to this community that was purchased with blood, and now hears the Holy Spirit’s affirmation in his heart when reading the first praise in Revelation: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (v. 6).

This first doxology comes from John, who is still on earth, while all the succeeding transfigured saints and the heavenly beings are ascending, praising God and the Lamb.

What was John’s secret, that so much from the Lord was revealed to him? No other apostle was shown such powerful things as he was. If we yearn for the Lord to reveal Himself through our lives, then we ought to know John’s secret. He wasn’t a particularly well-read man. His writings testify to a small vocabulary. But John was the only one of the twelve disciples to persevere at the cross of Calvary until Jesus died. This one, who had been called a “son of thunder” by the Lord, also died to himself there. So, in his gospel he doesn’t even dare to speak of himself in the first person, but writes in the third person. He no longer wants to distinguish himself, but says, “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe” (John 19:35).

Now that he has seen Jesus, the Lamb of God, he no longer dares to distinguish himself. Following the masses, having looked at Jesus and persevered with Him at the place of crucifixion, we no longer dare to put ourselves in the foreground. All who seek glory from men have never seen Jesus! Whoever has seen Jesus in His bitter suffering and death on the cross at Calvary, hates himself, steps into the background and begs, “Lord, reveal Yourself!” Such a person is no Pharisee, proud of his own piety.

John can’t avoid mentioning himself occasionally, when he wants to testify to what he has seen. But he goes the long way around himself. For example, in John 13:23, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” Because of this, the Lord could say through him in Revelation 2:4, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” He could only speak of the loss of first love because he loved the Lord so much. We can’t lead others—by a tract or a testimony—beyond where we ourselves are.

John’s extinguished nature is particularly evident in his introduction. In Revelation 1:4, he doesn’t say, “John, an apostle and servant of Jesus Christ chosen from the womb,” but simply gives his name. So, he even renounces his title, as for example Paul and Peter rightly used, so that the recipients of the letter immediately knew who they were dealing with. But John, who saw the crucified Christ and looks to the returning Lord, simply says, “John to the seven churches which are in Asia.”

Next, he speaks a blessing of the triune God over the seven churches, referencing God the Father first: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” Then he refers to the Holy Spirit: “and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne.” And finally, he references the Son: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth” (v. 5). He praises the Son: “to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever” (v. 6), and then the message immediately follows: “Behold, he cometh with clouds” (v. 7).

No one on earth can escape the encounter with Jesus Christ. John explicitly emphasizes in verse 7 that “every eye (i.e. the nations) shall see him, and they also which pierced him (i.e. Israel).” When He comes with the clouds, He will appear as the “faithful witness” to Israel and the “first begotten of the dead” to the church. He comes as the “prince of the kings of the earth” for the nations. Those purchased by His blood and His return are mention in the same breath. Verse 5: “him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Verse 7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds…” This proves that because of Jesus’ blood, those who are born again are one body with Him!

Midnight Call - 03/2020

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