“And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across His chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And His eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and His voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in His right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from His mouth. And His face was like the sun in all its brilliance.”
Revelation 1:13-16 NLT
John describes the Person in his vision as “someone like the Son of Man”. Of course, John knew Jesus personally. He walked around Palestine with Jesus for over three years, living with Him, eating with Him, observing the miracles, hearing the teaching. He was part of the disciples’ inner circle, along with Peter and James. He would definitely recognise Jesus again. So perhaps this encounter in his vision provided enough clues for John to recognise Jesus, and he described Him with the label Jesus Himself used, the “Son of Man“.
But it wasn’t Jesus’ earthly qualities, the clothes He wore, or the way He carried Himself, that grabbed John’s attention. In fact, I think he encountered a problem. The vision was real and dramatic, of that there are no doubts. But John’s ability to translate what he saw into language his readers could understand was difficult. If only he had a smartphone or camera! Ready and waiting to take a picture. But John didn’t do bad with his description of the risen Jesus. His eyes took in a vision of a Person central in a place containing lampstands, the seven churches to which He would later address some instructions. I won’t repeat what John wrote in his vision – the verses above are clear and graphic, but I believe it was a vision displaying both physical and spiritual qualities, somehow bound together in a visible way. Jesus came to this earth as a human being, and that was how He returned to Heaven. But He was also the Son of God, with all the divine qualities that that would include. John perhaps saw Jesus as He was, and is, in Heaven.
As pilgrims, have we had a vision of the risen Jesus? How do we mentally picture Him? John would have had no doubts – the vision he received “on the Lord’s Day” all those years ago would have remained with him for the rest of his life, short though it was. But I’m challenged today about what picture I hold in my mind of Jesus. Is it flavoured by an actor’s portrayal of Jesus in one of the films that have been made about Him? Or is it something else, perhaps equally dramatic and real, put there by my years of relationship with Him? I suppose my “vision” of Jesus is very much that He is a very real and significant “presence” in my life. I’m conscious of His love. I’m aware that He is always with me. I know He listens to my prayers and provides answers when required. But the vision I have of Jesus is not one of a middle Eastern man with a beard and wearing a robe. Is that a problem for me? Not at all. One day I know that I will meet Him and, like John, I’m sure I will fall at His feet in worship, because I will somehow inexplicably know Him.
Dear Lord Jesus. We worship You today, in gratitude for who You are and for all You have done. Thank You that You came to this world to save us by Your grace, love and mercy. We worship You today. Amen.