Here is his appearance:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:12-16; ESV)
It was this appearance that sent John to the ground. Fear coursed through his body. He thought he would die.
He had just heard a voice, clear, bright, piercing, telling him to record everything he would see. The voice startled him, and caused him to turn and investigate. What his eyes saw was more than he could comprehend.
The Jesus of campfire devotional songs and bracelets, whose name is written in glitter on women’s T-shirts, whose instrument of death hangs on gold necklaces, whose name is used as a curse word, is the very person John saw.
White hair. Flaming eyes. Radiant feet. Commanding voice.
And then Jesus reached out his hand, his right hand, and touched John. He stooped to touch John, as John lay on the ground. He moved himself, positioned himself, to be with John. He came to John. And told John to not be afraid.
Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Oh my. Oh my.
He is the Living Word, the voice of God to John, delivering a message to seven lampstands – seven churches.
These seven churches were in seven cities that served as major cities for communication in this area of the Roman Empire. There was a road, a circular route, that connected each of these cities, and each of these cities played a major part in this postal route. This letter would be read to each church, to strike both fear and encouragement into the hearts of the believers.
And here’s why.
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. (2:1)
There is one lampstand, according to Jesus’ own voice, for each church. The seven lampstands are the seven churches.
And Jesus walks among them. He walks among the churches.
I’ve thought about this verse, in today’s reading, for a good while. I don’t know what to do with it.
That this Jesus walks among our churches – this Jesus, with his white hair and flaming eyes and radiant feet and commanding voice – walks among our churches, is almost too much to bear.
He allays our fears, even though his appearance would scare us to death.
His wisdom is overwhelming.
His stare would pierce our soul.
He is stable, unmovable.
His voice hurts our ears.
It is this Jesus, this living Word, that walks among our church. Among your church. He knows all the secrets. He knows all the praises. He knows the condition of every heart.
His overwhelming presence isn’t enough to keep him away, though. He is not so great that he is above our gatherings.
As we worship, as we share, as we laugh, as we cry, as we plan, as we decide, as we teach, as we learn, the Word walks among us, listening, watching, speaking.
And he has much to say.