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John Encounters Christ



Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:7–10).


In the introduction to the Revelation we caught just a glimpse of the Person of Christ. As we press further into this first chapter of Revelation, we now see a more detailed description of Christ. John first speaks of Him as the coming Christ, and that is exactly who He has been to His church since the time of His ascension into heaven as recorded in the first chapter of the Book of Acts.

There is not much about the appearance of Christ that is remarkable after His resurrection. There were times when people could not recognize Him. There were times when He mysteriously appeared and disappeared. There was at least one time when the nail prints in His hands were visible. But, for the most part, He looked like Jesus.

In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, we learn that Jesus visited with many of His disciples during a period of forty days after His resurrection. There is nothing about His appearance at this time that seems unusual. In fact, we get a sense that the disciples were quite comfortable around the resurrected Christ, even if they could not understand everything about Him in His new condition. In fact, we find them asking Him questions just as they always had done. The strangest thing they encountered was the moment He was taken up into a cloud. Nothing is said about His appearance at that moment, so we can safely assume that He still looked like Jesus. One of the disciples standing there as Jesus ascended to heaven was none other than the Apostle John, the writer of the Book of Revelation.

At the opening of this Book he encounters Jesus and he finds that the appearance of Jesus is much different from the Jesus he saw going up into heaven. He now sees the Jesus that has been sitting at the right hand of the Father. He sees Jesus glorified. It will take us more than one lecture to explore this glorified Christ.


The Appearance Of Jesus Has Changed


At the ascension, two angels told the disciples, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” The Book of Acts says that He was received into a cloud; so, according to what the angels said, any time Jesus returns He will come in a cloud. Verse 7 of our text affirms what the angels said about Jesus at the Ascension. The angel that communicated the Revelation to John says of Jesus “Behold, He is coming with clouds.”

We may assume, then, that when John encountered Jesus here on the Isle of Patmos, He saw Jesus, a vision of Jesus, coming in a cloud. This was the same Jesus John saw ascending into heaven, but here His looks are quite different and awesome. As we said in the previous lecture, the clouds signify Christ in His deity. John and the disciples first saw Jesus as the Son of Man; in the Revelation He is seen as the Son of God first, and as the Son of Man second. From what follows, we get the sense that this appearance of Jesus is a foreshadowing of judgment to come at His Second Advent. It is this glorified Christ that will be our Judge at the final judgment.


Every Eye Will See Him


Every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.


This is reminiscent of what Jesus taught about His return in John 5:28–29


Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.


When Christ returns in His Second Advent, every eye, including all who are in the graves, will see Him and hear His voice. The Apostle Paul gives us a preview of that day in 1 Corinthians 15:51–52


Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.


The dead, those in the grave, both good and evil, will be raised—brought back to life. Those that are living will be changed and caught up with the dead in the general resurrection. All humanity from Adam and Eve down to the last person to be born on earth will see Christ when He returns in His glory.

Also notice that even those who pierced Him will see Him. Who pierced Jesus? John 19:34 gives us but one example, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out”. One might conjecture, “Surely this one soldier is the one that will see Jesus and be singled out for special punishment.” Not so. All humanity, from Adam and Eve to the last person to be born on earth, are guilty of that crime.


He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. . . . For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. . . . He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:5, 8, 12).


Zechariah speaks prophetically of salvation made possible by the sacrifice of Christ in Zechariah 12:10


And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.


It is the sins of all humanity that pierced the side of Christ on the cross—we all are guilty. He “was delivered up because of our offenses”, (Romans 4:25).

John then tells us that at the coming of Christ “all tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him”. Here it is said that “all tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him”. Zechariah saw this mourning in his prophecy. Verse 11 “In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem” and verse 12 “all the land shall mourn, every family by itself” (or tribe as the context shows).

While it is true that every eye will see Him and it is true that all of us are guilty of piercing Him, it is only the unregenerate, those that have not accepted God’s gift of salvation through the suffering and blood of Christ, that will mourn. For them, they will realize too late that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world and that they could have been saved from sin if they would have chosen to accept Him. Their rejection of Christ condemns them to the resurrection of condemnation.


John Hears The Voice Of Christ


As John begins to encounter the glorified Christ, the very first thing that happens is that he hears the Lord speaking. In verse 8 he hears Jesus say, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

The Lord declares His name to be the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. God revealed the essence of this name to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM”, or “I AM THAT I AM” (KJV). These are the words that express the self-existence of God. In verse 15 God says “this is My name for ever”.

We know that Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet—they indicate not only the beginning and the end, but all letters in-between, the entire alphabet, which is the sense of Himself that Jesus conveys to us: the entirety of the nature of God. There can be nothing without and outside of God.

The New Testament clearly acknowledges the eternally self-existent person of Christ:


For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16–17).


And we must always remember “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”. He is the Almighty, “he is before all things, and by him all things consist”. (Colossians 2:9).


John Introduces Himself


Before going further in the Revelation, John introduces himself to his readers. His name is John and he tells us that he is on the Isle of Patmos. Although he was an Apostle of Christ, he introduces himself humbly as “your brother”, showing us the equality among the church, the family of God, regardless of our gifts and places of responsibility in the church.

He tells us he is their companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom, and patience of Jesus Christ. In his later years, John lived in Ephesus. He was well-known in that congregation and among the churches in the southwestern area of Asia Minor. His gospel had been circulated among the congregations, not only in that area, but probably everywhere there was a Christian church at the time.

The church was experiencing persecution from the Roman government under the reign of Emperor Domitian. In consequence of this persecution, the Apostle John had been arrested and banished to the Isle of Patmos. This was largely a penal colony at this time. Prisoners exiled to this island were put to work in its mines. John, being so aged, was not put to work in the mines but probably put in solitary confinement somewhere on the island.

He says he is the churches’ companion in the kingdom. Notice he did not say he was their companion in the church. This is significant. While certain churches are named in the Revelation, the Revelation is not so much about the church as it is about the kingdom, a much broader phase of God’s plan for mankind. It is not that the church and the kingdom are radically different. It is the place of the church to do the work of the kingdom. The church and the kingdom do not exist independently of each other.

We often refer to the church-historic method of interpreting the Book of Revelation, but it would perhaps give us a better context if we would develop a kingdom-history methodology. Philip Mauro makes this observation:


It is deeply to be regretted that the company of the people of God in the world has come to be spoken of almost invariably as “the church of God”. We read and hear of the history of the church, the trials of the church, the conflicts of the church, the triumphs of the church, etc., etc. But the Scripture does not so speak. That which has a continued existence on earth throughout this dispensation, is not “the church of God”, but “the Kingdom of God” and the misapplication of the name church for kingdom is not only a great mistake, but a great misfortune; for the truth has suffered much in consequence. . . . What does exist on earth in this era is, collectively, the kingdom of God (into which every saved person is immediately translated, Colossians 1:12) and locally the numerous churches of God (note the plural).


This in no way undermines or negates the biblical name church of God, as it is so often used in the NT when referring to a congregation, a group of congregations, or to the church at large. Mauro’s point does eliminate ecclesiastic exclusivism based on the name.

There is a real sense in which the kingdom and the church contain all the redeemed—the kingdom in reality and the visible church in theory. We sing the phrase


We reach our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one,

While love entwines around each heart in which God’s will is done.


What we sing requires that we acknowledge and accept all that are redeemed through the blood of Christ whether or not they attend a congregation that goes by the name Church of God. In some circles, it is genuinely felt that the redeemed are limited only to congregations that use that name and are connected in a certain fellowship of such congregations.


In The Spirit


John was in the Spirit on the Lords’ Day. Verse 10 actually begins the first of the visions of the Revelation. John was in the Spirit; he was under the influence of the Holy Spirit in the same manner as were the Old Testament prophets when they received their prophecies. In like manner, Peter was in the same state when he received the vision of the great sheet let down from heaven. (See Acts 10:10–15). Paul had a similar experience when he was caught up to the third heaven and heard inexpressible words. (See 2 Corinthians 12:1–4).

John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, the day of the week on which the Christian Church worshipped God and observed the resurrection of Christ: Sunday, the first day of the week. He heard a loud voice, as of a trumpet—we will discuss the voice in our next lecture. The voice identifies the speaker as Christ and instructs John to write what he sees in a book and send the book to the seven churches in Asia. The words “what you see” encompass the entire contents of the Book of Revelation.

The seven churches are named and it is seen that they are certain congregations in southwestern Asia Minor. We know that there were more churches in Asia Minor and many churches in other parts of the world by the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation. It is an interesting fact that these churches lie in the area where the Apostle Paul spent most of his ministry, and because of this there is a sense in which these churches represent the very center from which the teachings of Christ spread to every part of the world.