When Christ Is Everything to Us

Wim Malgo (1922-1992)

An interpretation of the last book of the Bible. Part 9. Revelation 1:8-20.

In Revelation 1:8-20, we see what and who Jesus Christ is, knowing this is the highest thing. Paul says in Ephesians 3:19 that knowing the love of Christ surpasses all other knowledge. In this passage, John hears the voice of the Lord, saying that He, the Lord, is the Eternal One: “I am Alpha and Omega” (Rev 1:8).

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega the last. This indicates that the Lord is the beginning and the end. But it has a deeper meaning; namely, that Jesus Christ is the eternal Word. Beyond Him there is nothing further to be said, because He is the Word in the most perfect and complete sense: “[He] hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” (Heb 1:2). Everything that goes beyond Jesus is futile. Hence, the addition, “which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8).

He alone has been given all power in heaven and on earth. If we were more permeated by this truth, we would be much calmer! We’re often besieged by all kinds of power under heaven—by the powers of darkness. But all authority and dominion and majesty are given to Him, Jesus Christ. This is the majestic person of our blessed Redeemer.

But now we’re approaching the actual revelation. So far, we’ve only discussed the title of this book and its introduction. But now we come into contact with the revealed One in person. The first part of Revelation unveils Jesus Christ in relation to His Church on earth (the epistles). In the second part of Revelation, we have the unveiling of Christ in relation to His Church in heaven. There we see the transfigured elders and everything that occurs in the glory after the rapture. The third part of Revelation unveils Christ in relation to the world and how He judges its peoples. And so it goes on gradually, until we look into perfect glory: the new heaven and the new earth, where righteousness dwells.

But the focus is on the most significant thing: the revelation of Jesus Christ. When we see Jesus, we see everything! We shouldn’t be doing considerably more, as many think, but be doing more things of significance; that is, reach out much more toward our Lord Jesus Christ’s revelation!

The first wonderful effect is that the apostle and disciple John, who was the most intimately associated with the Lord, equates himself with his brothers and sisters in the Lord: “I John, who also am your brother, and companion…” (Rev 1:9). He is a brother and companion in three respects.

First, “in tribulation” (v. 9). Every child of God must enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation.

Second, “in the kingdom” (v. 9). Everyone who is born again is an embodiment of the kingdom of God. As kings and priests, we carry the kingship, and the kingdom, in us. The Lord Jesus put it this way: “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21b).

Third, the “patience of Jesus Christ.” The English Standard Version reads, “the patient endurance that [is] in Jesus.” This is the secret of Calvary’s power: patient endurance in Jesus, patient endurance in the place of the crucifixion. That’s what is most convincing in this hectic world, and what has the greatest impact. We tend to have patience as long as we don’t need it. Peter says, “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Pet 3:15).

The fact that John isn’t speaking in platitudes here proves that he’s in the middle of a test of faith. He, the apostle who spoke before thousands, is now alone and isolated on the island of Patmos in the Mediterranean. Why? John himself answers the question: “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (v. 9). He was banished for the sake of Jesus. We Christians in the (still) free West don’t get banished for the sake of Jesus. Things are very different in the East. Some of our brothers and sisters are really on “Patmos” for the sake of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

In verse 10, John speaks out of this experience of the revelation of Jesus Christ with great authority. You cannot testify to what you have not seen yourself. But he saw it! He’s already speaking in the past tense here. He doesn’t just babble on, but says very succinctly, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet” (Rev 1:10).

What a wonderful contrast: On the one hand, John is lonely for the sake of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus, and abandoned in his afflictions, which he endures patiently. But on the other hand, he can testify, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” He saw Jesus in glory! All true children of God inhabit this contrast: On the one hand, internally challenged and hunted by the enemy. But on the other, able to experience the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ!

That was also the case for Paul. He was a hunted man. He lists off what he suffered for Jesus’ sake: hunger, shipwreck, beatings, scourging. He also suffered from false brothers and more. He could have boasted in the flesh of all this. But he says, “…what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ…and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil 3:7-8). In other words, Christ is manifest in me.

Midnight Call - 04/2020

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