Okay, if you have a BIble, you can go ahead and open it to Revelation 1.
We're going to be starting in verse 12 here tonight.
The title of the message is 'The Exalted Christ.'
What we're going to be doing is we're going to be looking at the first vision in the Book of Revelation.
I think this is a pretty important vision because it begins to answer
two questions that I think a lot of us have probably wondered.
The first question is: What is Jesus Christ like now?
What is He like right now?
In the Gospels we saw Jesus in His humanity, we saw Him dying on the cross, we saw Him risen from the dead, ascending into heaven,
but it says that Jesus was exalted to the highest place and given a name that is above every name.
So at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.
But what exactly does that mean?
Well, this passage begins to answer that question.
And the second question is: What is He doing now?
What is Jesus Christ up to now?
Is He taking nap?
Is He a personal genie granting people's requests?
Is He a personal therapist solving people's problems? Is He absent in the world?
You know, what is He up to now?
And last week we looked at John's situation as he received this first vision in the Book of Revelation.
We talked about how he personally was suffering in a very significant way.
He was suffering physically, he was suffering emotionally, he was suffering relationally,
he had been separated from the seven churches that he was pastoring—the seven churches that he loved.
And he was going through a very difficult time. And it is in the middle of this very difficult time in John's life that John receives this vision.
The vision of the exalted Christ.
Now, why did Jesus appear to John?
Whenever you go through a vision in the scriptures, it's good to take time and think through it and break it down
and so questions like this have been helpful for me to try to understand
this vision we're going to be looking at tonight.
The question is: Why does Jesus appear to John?
I think there are two reasons.
The first reason is that Jesus had something to say to these seven churches.
He has a message he wanted to give to these seven churches. And John was the human agent that
He used to communicate His assessment of these seven churches, His encouragement to these seven churches, His rebuke to these seven churches.
So, God chose to use John as the human agent to communicate what He wanted to communicate to these churches.
I think the second reason He appeared was to encourage and comfort John and these seven churches.
I think He appeared to encourage them.
You know, if Jesus simply wanted to communicate information to these seven churches,
he could have just written a letter, dropped it off at their door and then called it good.
There was no reason He needed to actually appear to John.
And I believe that this vision would have served as a tremendous encouragement to John and these seven churches.
Now, how exactly did Jesus go about encouraging John when he was in a very difficult place?
This is a question that I've been thinking about this week.
How did He go about encouraging John and these seven churches when they were in a very difficult place?
Because whenever I get into a difficult place, I tend to want to change my circumstances.
Right? That's typically what I do.
I think it's just basic human nature.
When you're frustrated about something, when you're discouraged about something,
the knee-jerk reaction is to try to solved the problem and say, If I just didn't have this boss in my life.'
Or 'If I just made more money' or 'If I could just get a boyfriend or a girlfriend'
or 'If I just didn't have this boyfriend or girlfriend in my life. Then my life would be better.'
But in this situation, Jesus does not change John's circumstances. This is something that has blown me away this week.
Jesus does not change John's circumstances.
He gives him this vision of heaven, a vision of hell later throughout the book, He gives him a vision of Himself.
And in the middle of all of this, I'm reading through this and I'm thinking to myself, 'Jesus, why don't you just take John out of prison?'
Right? 'It would be nothing for you to just take John from the island of Patmos and put him in Ephesus.'
Why didn't He just do that?
It wouldn't have been that big of a deal.
That's the thing that's been rolling around in my mind. But I know that Jesus wanted to encourage John. I know that Jesus wanted to comfort John.
So how did He do it?
Well, I think the way He did it is this:
He gave John a big view of Himself.
That's what He did.
What we're going to be looking at is a vision of Jesus. And I think this would have been an incredible encouragement to John.
And the way He encouraged him wasn't by just simply changing his circumstances, but it was by giving John a big view, a big vision of Himself.
He allowed John to see who Jesus really is.
And I think that's about the most encouraging, the most comforting thought imaginable;
to get a clear view of who God is.
And I think that, as believers, until we get a view of God and a belief in God that captivates our hearts,
I think it is very hard to follow Christ.
I just think it is so hard.
Because our human nature is to live a life where we're constantly trying to repair our circumstances; change our circumstances to make our life better.
And sometimes it makes sense to change our circumstances. The Bible's not about changing our circumstances.
A change of circumstances is a very lousy savior.
And so many of us are enslaved to that.
And so many of us are captivated by the world.
I think until we get a view of God, a belief in God that is big enough to captivate our hearts, it's going to be really hard to follow Him.
It's going to be very hard for us to not just put our hope in a change of circumstances.
To put our hope in the world.
And I think that one of the most powerful statements that we can make with our life to the world
is the statement that in whatever situation we're in, Jesus Christ is enough.
Right? That He is sufficient.
That Jesus Christ is my greatest joy.
He is the source of my satisfaction.
In this passage, we see John get a very big view of Jesus.
We see John get this view of Jesus that I think would have changed the rest of his life.
Now, whenever you talk about a view of God, a vision of God, and this idea of having a view of God that captivates your heart,
I think there are two principles that are very important to understand.
The first principle is that you will worship someone or something. This is all throughout the scriptures.
This is everywhere as you read the Bible.
You will worship someone or something.
Whether that is God, whether you worship yourself, your kids, whether you worship success, or money, or fame, or alcohol, or pleasure,
or ministry, your family; whatever it is, you're going to have some object of worship.
You are going to worship something.
The second principle is this:
You will become what you worship.
The second principle is that you will become whatever it is you worship.
Psalm 135 says, "The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold,
shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell.
And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them."
And the idea is not that if you worship Lebron James, you're going to become like Lebron James.
You're able to dunk. That's not the idea.
The idea is that if you worship God who is full of life and grace and righteousness and holiness, then you will become like that.
But if you worship something that is void of life, and grace, and truth, and righteousness, you will become like that.
This is just the way that we are hardwired.
This is the way we have been created.
We've been created to worship and whatever we worship, we will become just whatever the thing it is that we worship.
This is why your view of God, this is why when you think about Jesus Christ, the image that comes to your mind is so important.
Because whatever it is you worship, you're going to become like it. You begin to imitate what it is you worship.
And I think that it's easy to observe that human beings mimic one another.
We copy one another.
I think as you get older, it's not quite as cool to copy people, so we have to think that we're all original in everything that we do.
But it's so easy to see with kids.
Kids just copy. Whatever it is they focus on, they begin to copy.
Just this past Winter, I came home from work and I was wearing a pair of jeans, walking around the house, talking with Meg and the kids.
I hear Rex and Quinn say, "Let's go upstairs."
So they go upstairs and they go put a pair of jeans on and they come back downstairs and they're wearing a pair of jeans.
And I'm not really paying attention to this.
But then I say, "I'm going to go up and change."
So I put a pair of basketball shorts on.
I come downstairs wearing a pair of basketball shorts and they say, "Let's go upstairs."
And I'm not really paying attention and they go up and they put basketball shorts on.
Then they come down and I'm like, "Why'd you guys do that? Why did you put shorts on?"
They said,"Well, because you're wearing shorts, Dad."
And Quinn goes,"And because basketball shorts are awesome."
And I said, "Yea, I guess they're pretty comfortable."
Kids, they're just hardwired to imitate.
Two weeks ago, we were at Bruegger's.
My whole family, we went out to Bruegger's for breakfast on Sunday before church.
Typically that's where I take my kids out on dates on Sunday mornings, but we were all together.
And there was a really, really large line.
So we all walked in, we found a place to sit, and Titan was used to going on dates with me and we always sit at this booth.
So Titan immediately runs over to the booth.
And I'm sitting in line kind of watching my kids.Really big line.
Titan stands up on the booth.And he's kind of in a place in the center of Bruegger's.
And all of a sudden Titan began to sing really loud.
And he was singing 'This girl is on fire.'
And everyone's kind of looking at him.
And I said, "How many times do I have to tell you not to sing Alicia Keys in public?"
I didn't say that.
It was just so obvious. You imitate.
He's just a little kid and he's imitating whatever he is focused on.
And the same thing is true of you.
If you worship Jesus, who's full of life, and grace, and mercy, and holiness, and righteousness, you will mimic that.
That is what is going to happen.
If your focused on that, you will mimic that.
Whatever it is you worship, you will become like [it].
But if you worship money, or sex, or pleasure—if your life is given to these things—you will be void of life.
You'll be void of righteousness.
Void of holiness in your life.
I think for us as believers, the fight is to maintain a big view of God.
And this is what this passage is all about.
It's all about who Jesus Christ is now and what he is up to now.
So what I've done is I've broken this passage down in four big ideas,
the four main ideas I see in this passage.
That's what we're going to be looking at tonight.
I'm going to go ahead and read the passage and then we will break it down.
This is what it says:
It says, "I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw
seven gold lampstands, and among the lampstand was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe
and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest.
His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow—
and His eyes like a fiery flame.
His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and His voice like the
sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword
came from His mouth; and His face was shining like the sun at midday."
So this is the vision that he sees.
This is the image that John sees.
And this is the first point I want you to notice here.
John wants us to see Jesus as God.
If you break it down, what John is doing is going back into the Old Testment and using all these Old Testament passages to describe what he sees.
It's like John was so familiar with the Old Testament that when he saw this vision of Jesus,
it was fairly easy for him to put all these Old Testament pictures, and images, and titles,
and attribute them to Jesus in this vision.
There are so many different little titles, so many different little names, so many different little things
that reference back to the Old Testament.
We don't have time to go through all of them and pick them apart and go back into the Old Testament and break them down.
But I do want give you a feel for what John is doing in this passage.
So I wanted to look at five different descriptions in this passage that I think will help give us a feel for what John is going for in his description.
Because this is not just some random, mindless description; like he's just haphazardly writing down what he sees.
I think this is a very carefully constructed description of Jesus Christ.
So there are five descriptions in this passage.
There are more than that, but there are five that I want to focus in on
to help give us a feel for what this passage is about.
Let's look at verse 13. It says, "...and among the lampstands was the One like the Son of Man"
So he uses this title, "One like the Son of Man."
Now, what does that mean?
"One like the Son of Man."
What is John trying communicate when he uses this title? Well, the first time this title is used is in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 7:13 says, "I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a Son of Man
coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him.
He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people,
nation, and language should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one
that will not be destroyed."
So this phrase; this is the first time it's ever used in the Old Testament.
And this is a phrase that the Jews used, because of Daniel's vision, to talk about the Messiah.
This is a title referring to the Messiah.
So if you were a Jewish, you're waiting for the salvation of God.
You're waiting for the Messiah.
This is one of the titles you would use: "One like a Son of Man."
It describes "One like a Son of Man" being given a kingdom and authority that will last forever.
And people from every tribe, and tongue, and nation, and language [will] serve Him.
This is a title that we should expect, right?
This is a title that makes sense.
Jesus really is the Messiah.
The first title given to Jesus is this Old Testament reference to the Messiah from the book of Daniel.
But then where John goes from there is very interesting. What he does is uses
all these Old Testament references—
all these Old Testament descriptions of God, of Yahweh, of Jehovah, the God of Jacob, and Isaac—
he uses all of these references from the Old Testament to now describe Jesus.
That's what he does.
So he reaches back and he grabs all these descriptions of Jehovah, of God, and he applies them to Jesus Christ.
There are four of them here that I see are very clear and easy to understand.
Verse 14 says, "His head and hair were white like wool—and His eyes like a fiery flame"
So this is John's description.Where do you see that in the Old Testament?
Daniel 7:9 says, "As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat."
Now, who was the Ancient of Days?
The Ancient of Days was a name for Yahweh, the God of Jacob.
When we think about God the Father, this was a title that was given to God;
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In verse 9, as you continue to read it, you see this description of the Ancient of Days.
This is what it says:
It says, "His clothing was white like snow, and the hair of His head like whitest wool.
And His throne was flaming fire..."
So if you look back at Revelation 1:14, it says, "His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow..."
So this was a description used to describe the Ancient of Days.
So John reaches back into Daniel 7, and now he applies it to Jesus.
Which, if you were a Jew and you're reading this, you would have said, "He's talking about the Ancient of Days. He's talking about God."
He's calling Jesus, in very clear terms, God.
He's attributing what was true of Yahweh, the God of Jacob, and now he says that's true of Jesus.
That's what he's doing.
The Ancient of Days.His clothing was white like snow.
The third characteristic here, the third description is found in verse 15:
it says, "His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters."
So it says that Jesus' voice was like the sound of rushing water.
Ezekiel 43:2 says, "...and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east."
So this was very clear. "The glory of the God of Israel coming from the east."
Now, how does he describe the God of Israel?
It says, "His voice sounded like the roar of mighty waters, and the earth shone with His glory."
So this was a description of the God of Israel, now being attributed to Jesus Christ.
The fourth characteristic is found in verse 17.
It says, "When I saw Him..."
This is John.
"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said,
Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last..."
Where does that come from?
Isaiah 44:6 says, "This is what the Lord says—Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;apart from me there is not God."
[This is] used to describe Israel's King, the Redeemer, the Lord Almighty, the one true God.
This is now be attributed to Jesus Christ.
Now the last description is in Revelation 1:18.
Jesus says, "I am the First and the Last, and the Living One."
In Joshua 3:10, Psalm 42:2, and Hosea 1:10,
all of these references describe God as being the 'Living One'.
So I think it is abundantly clear, it's painfully obvious that John is trying to help us understand that Jesus is God. This is the image.
He's saying, 'Listen, I want you to understand that Jesus is God.'
And the way he does it is he uses all of these Old Testament titles that refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
and then he puts them on Jesus.That's what he sees in Jesus.
And while Jesus was here, he was communicating to people, "I and the Father are one."
In John 10:30 He says, "I and the Father are one."
In John 14:9 He says, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."
Hebrews 1:3 says, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being,
sustaining all things by his powerful word."
So Jesus is very clearly, in the Gospels and in Hebrews, saying, 'Listen, if you've seen me, you've seen the Father. I am God.'
The question I want to ask you here is this:
When you think about Jesus,what image comes to mind?
What is the image that comes to your mind when you begin to think about Jesus?
Some people they start to think about hippie Jesus, or surfer Jesus, or baby Jesus.
They think about Jesus with the lamb as a shepherd.
I think some of those images and ideas are fine if you want to think about Jesus in that way.
But I think that John is trying to push us in this direction, so that when Jesus comes to mind,
we're not thinking about baby Jesus, we're not thinking about hipster Jesus, meek and mild Jesus,
Jesus hanging out with the poor.
But we think about Jesus as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
We think about Him as the ruling King.
We think about Jesus as being God.
The one who is in charge. The one who is sovereign.
The one who is ruling and the one who is reigning.
Now, those other images of Jesus in the Gospels, they can be very helpul.
But the Jesus we're going to worship for all of eternity looks like this.
This is what he looks like.
This is the image that we see of Jesus Christ.
And I would say your view of Jesus is so important.
When you begin to think about the Jesus you're following, what's really important is that you're following the Jesus of the Bible.
So many of the cults and false religions— Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, Modalists—
all of these different false religions and cults, pretty much without exception,
what happens is that those religions, they flow from a distorted view of Jesus Christ.
And sometimes we think if you just say, 'Jesus', we all mean the same thing.
It's like, "No." That's not true.
If you talk with a Mormon and you say, "Jesus", we're talking about two different beings.
You talk with a Jehovah's Witness and you say, "Jesus", we're talking about two different beings.
If you talk about Jesus with someone who is Muslim, you're talking about two different Jesuses.
We're talking about different people.
As Christians, it's important that we rightly think about Jesus.
That when Jesus comes to mind, we have the proper view of Jesus.
And I think that John is trying to establish that for us.
He's making it painfully clear that Jesus Christ is God. That He is in control.
That once, as He says, once He was dead, He died for us, but now He's alive and He'll live forever as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The second big idea is this:
John wants us to see Jesus in the church.
Revelation 1:12 says, "I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me.
When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands..."
Now if you skip down to Revelation 1:20, it says that lampstands represent the churches.
This is what it represents.
So he says, "When I turned I saw seven [churches]"
This is the idea.
"...I turned and I saw seven [churches], and among the among the lampstands [churches] was One like the Son of Man."
So the image that we get here, the image that John is getting and he is recording, is this image of the Son of Man, the Messiah.
The image of God among His people.
An image of Jesus in the Church.
And I don't know if you've ever asked yourself the question, "What is Jesus up to now?"
I think about that.I've thought about that throughout the years.
What is He doing? Right?
He's ruling and reigning. He's in control. He's God.
But what is He actually doing?
Well, right here, John gives us a glimpse of Jesus and what he's up to.
Now what is He up to?
He's in the Church. He's among the people of God.
Which makes perfect sense.
If the Church is His body, if the Church is His bride, it would make perfect sense
that that is what Jesus is up to.
It reminds me of a verse in Matthew 28:20.
This is one of the last things Jesus says to His disciples before He ascends.
He says, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
And in the New Testament we're given two pictures, two images that help us understand
our relationship with Jesus, and the Church's relationship with Jesus.
The first one is the bride of Christ; that Jesus is the husband and the Church is the bride.
And the second is the body of Christ.The Church is the body of Christ.
Jesus is the Head and we are the body.
Both of these truths communicate the idea that Jesus loves the Church.
He's all about the Church.
You ask yourself the question, "How united is a husband with his wife?"
Well, the Bible says that the two become one flesh.
They're totally one.
What a term of intimacy to describe His relationship with the Church.
The two become one.
How united is your head to your body?
It's pretty united, right?
It's one. What a picture of intimacy—that we are His body. He is the head and we are His body.
I would say that these two images have been so helpful for me over the years.
I remember when I was 19 years old.
I remember trying to figure out my life.
I was trying to share the Gospel.I was reading the Word of God.
I was trying to do what it says.
But I remember just thinking to myself, 'What am I going to do with my life?
I'm 19. I'm young. I feel like I have a lot of options with what I want to do.
But what is it that I'm going to focus on?What is going to be central in my life?
What is going to be the priority of my life?'
And I knew enough to say, "God, what do you want me to give my life to?"
Have you ever asked yourself that question?
Do you ever feel like,"What in the world am I doing with my life?"
I know I've been there a number of times in my life.
And I remember when I was 19, that was one of the first times where I really felt it in my gut.
'What in the world am I doing with my life?
Is my life going to count for anything?
When I die, what is my life going to amount to?'
And I would say there are two things, when I was 19 years old, where it was like the light bulb turned on in my head.
[Two things] that have been so helpful for me;that have helped to direct the course of my life.
It's helped me to move in a way that I think God wants me to move.
The first thing is this (this is the thing that became clear):
The Church, the body of Christ, is precious to Jesus. Therefore the Church should be precious to me.
I remember just being impressed with that thought from the scriptures.
The Church, the body of Christ, is precious to Jesus.
If I'm going to follow Jesus, I should love what He loves.
What is precious to Him, what is valuable to Him, should be valuable to me.
Church shouldn't be an afterthought.
If I'm going to follow Christ, church shouldn't be an afterthought. I should view it as some optional piece in my relationship with Christ.
But I should view it as essential.
The path of building the Church and the path of following Jesus, they go hand-in-hand.
They are the exact same path.
I think in our country, I don't know all the reasons why, but I feel like have so elevated this idea of a personal relationship with Jesus,
that it's almost ridiculous. It's almost getting to the point where it's ridiculous.
And it is true that we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; which is a wonderful truth.
But we have so elevated it, to the point where we have excluded these other Biblical realities like the Church.
So we've elevated this personal relationship with Jesus and we've minimized the importance of the Body.
So we have all kinds of Christians running around our country, running around our city that think that they don't really need to be involved in church.
They actually think that.
That is the mindset because we've super-elevated the personal relationship with Jesus and we've minimized the importance of the Body.
I remember, even when I was 19, I saw that and I thought, 'Man, I don't know if that's really right.
I don't know if that's really what's honoring to Christ. I don't know if Jesus was actually here, if that's what He would encourage me to do.'
To just emphasize a personal relationship with Him, but be totally absent from the Body of Christ.
Or just very minimal involvement.
I thought, 'I don't know if that's what it is.'
So I remember just coming to this conviction, over time the light bulb going off in my head,
that if I'm going to serve Jesus, then what's precious to Jesus needs to be precious to me.
See, when you became a Christian, it says that you became part of the Body of Christ.
You actually belong to Him.
And not only do I belong to Him, but we belong to Him.
So, according to 1 Corinthians 12, then we belong to one another.
We actually belong to one another in Christ.
We're not just people who kind of know each other.
We actually belong to one another for eternity, which is just a wild thought.
The other thought was this:
The best way to serve Jesus is to serve the Church.
Let me tell you something about Jesus.
Jesus has no needs whatsoever.
He has no needs in any way, shape, or form.
He's not among Church because He's hoping that we can actually take care of some of His needs.
He is not among the Church hoping to get a back massage from one of us. Right?
He's not among the Church hoping to get a good home-cooked meal.
He's not among the Church because he's looking for a new pair of pants and maybe you'll buy him a new pair of pants.
He's not among the Church because He has some need that He's hoping that we would meet.
And something else you need to know about Jesus is this: You cannot, as a believer, directly serve Jesus.
Did you know that?
You cannot directly serve Jesus.
After Jesus died, and rose again,
and ascended into heaven, then no one could actually directly serve Him.
And what I mean by that is that no one here has actually washed the feet of Jesus.
No one here has done His laundry.
No one here has ever made Him a meatball sub.
Nobody here is actually, directly served Jesus Christ.
Right? Unless I'm missing something.
So if we're supposed to servants of Jesus,
if we're supposed to be His slaves like we talked about in Revelation 1:1,
then how in the world do we serve Jesus?
How do we do it?
Well, I believe that just about the best way to serve Jesus Christ is by serving His Body.
It's by serving what He loves.
Serving the people that He loves.
It's being intentional with your life and setting your life up in such a way that you're able to serve the Body of Christ.
I think that is just about the most practical way you can serve Jesus.
In Hebrews 6:10 it says,
"For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name..."
How did you show your work for Christ?
And how did you show love for His name?
"...When you served the saints—and you continue to serve them."
If you want to show your love for Christ, then serve the people in your Community Group.
Make them a priority and serve them.
Be good to them. Lay down your life for them.
If you want to serve Christ,serve the people in this room right now.
Give your life to help them grow in their walk with the Lord.
If you want to serve Christ, serve believers in the city of Des Moines.
That is how you can demonstrate your love for Christ. Your work for Christ.
It's by actually serving His Body.
That's not the only way. I want to be clear.
That's not the only way you can serve Jesus.
But that's one of the most practical ways you can actually serve Jesus Christ.
It's by serving the people that you know,
the people who belong to Jesus Christ.
Jesus is among the Church to empower the Church.
Jesus is among the Church to build the Church.
To protect the Church.
To help the Church move forward.
That is why He is among the Church.
He has no needs, so He is just building His Kingdom.
And He wants you to cooperate with Him.
To come alongside Him and help Him do what He's doing. To be involved with what He's doing.
And that is building the Church.
See, the Church, it comes together to help believers grow into maturity.
And He wants us to be involved in that process.
What I've learned is this:
When your mindset changes and you recognize that serving believers is really just
an opportunity to express your love for Jesus Christ,
the whole nature of serving changes.
It all changes.
Because when you recognize that serving the people of God is really an act of love for Christ,
it is no longer about the worthiness of the people you're serving.
That's what ends up happening a lot of times.
This is where a lot of us get stuck.
We feel like the people that we're serving are unworthy for us to serve them.
They're just not worthy of it.
'I just have better things to do with my time.
I just have a lot of other things I want to do.
Maybe if it's the most incredible cause in the whole world, then I'll take some time off to serve.'
When you recognize that this is a way to express your love for Jesus,
then it's no longer about the worthiness of the people you're serving.
It's no longer about getting recognition.Getting a pat on the back.
It's no longer about serving in the most fun way possible.
It just becomes an act of love for Christ.
It's almost like people become the means, the way you express your love to Jesus.
And for me, that has been so helpful.
For me, that's something that has just changed my whole mindset when it comes to serving people.
This is one of the main reasons I wanted to become a pastor. I'm not saying everyone has to be a pastor.
I wanted to be in a place where I could, as a lifestyle,
[give] my whole life to expressing love for Christ by serving His people.
I think the secret to becoming a great servant is just recognizing it's not about the people you serve.
Serving is ultimately not about the people you serve.
It's about that God that you serve.
That's what it's about.
I think John understood this.
I think he recognized that his life wasn't to be given to just doing what wanted.
His life was to be given to taking care of the people of God.
A question I want to ask you here—actually two questions:
Number one: Do you value the Church?
The Body of Christ?
More specifically, do you value our church?
Is it precious to you?
Because I believe that the people of God are precious to God.
He loves them.
They are His treasure.
It is so easy to be a Cynical Sally or to be a Rebellious Richard and sit around and point fingers all over the place.
It's so easy to do that.
It's easy to live that way.
But I think what God wants us to do is just to learn to come in and be a great servant of His Body.
Do you value the Church?
If this is your first time, I'm not saying you've got to love this church or something like that.
That's not what I'm saying.That'd be kind of awkward.
But as believers, we should love the people we're around. It should be central in our life.
The second question is do you serve the Church?
Do you serve the Church?
Do you come here with a heart to worship Jesus, to hear the Word of God, to sing to Christ?
But do you come as a servant?
To lay down your life to build people up.
That is what our attitude should be, wherever we're at in our life.
Whatever we're doing in our life.
So John wants us to see Jesus as being among the Church.
The third big idea is this:
John wants us to know that Jesus is scary.
This is John's response in verse 17.
It says,"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man."
This is what he says.
"What I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man."
He fell down and he said, 'My life is over.'
And I think, 'Why did John respond this way?'
Because if you think about it for a second, Jesus and John were close friends.
John was faithfully serving Him.
He was walking with Jesus for at least the three years of His ministry.
He was in Jesus' inner circle.
It says that John laid at Jesus' bosom during the last supper. They were close friends.
John was the only one at Jesus' crucifixion.
John was the one who took take of Mary, Jesus' mother, after Jesus died.
And then John went on to faithfully follow the Lord for 50, 60, 70 years.
I mean, they were great friends.
This response, to me, seems a little bit strange.
That when Jesus appears, John falls down like a dead man.
He says, 'My life's over.'
'My life is actually over.'
Now, why did he fall over like a dead man?
I think there are two reasons.
The first reason is that John, in this vision, is getting a glimpse of God.
This is what's happening.
The Jesus he saw when He walked around on this planet, was not the same Jesus that he saw in this vision.
And what I mean by that is that Jesus' humanity veiled His true glory,
His true value, His true power.
When Jesus would walk around, people would look at Him and they wouldn't think twice about it.
Right? It says in Isaiah that there is nothing about His physical appearance that made Him awesome.
He wasn't great looking.
He was just a normal looking dude.
So when people would walk around and look at Jesus, they'd just say it's not a big deal.
In fact, they felt like He was such a normal dude that they felt comfortable spitting on Him.
People felt comfortable spitting on Him.
They felt like it was okay to beat Him.
They felt like it was okay to crucify Him.
It's like His humanity veiled the true glory and nature of Jesus.
But see, the image that John is seeing here of Jesus,
is that he's seeing Jesus as God;as He really, truly is.
He's seeing Jesus in His exalted state.
I believe that this is something that as believers,we have to learn to think of Jesus
more and more like this.
Not like Jesus with children.
Not like Jesus with lambs.
Not like baby Jesus.
But like Jesus being God.
One commentator made this observation about John's encounter.
It just says this, "When the Lord opened to Him the doors into heaven and into hell..."
This is what happens in this vision.It continues on and then there is another vision, and another vision, and another vision.
John is able to see heaven. He is able to see hell.
He is able to see the end of the world.
He is able to see Satan.
He is able to see all of these things.
[The commentator] says, "When the Lord opened to Him the doors into heaven and into hell,
His soul didn't tremble and His spirit did not even quake. But when he looked at Jesus and saw deity resurrected and glorified,
he fell down as a dead man."
And I think that's right.
Because he saw the holiness of God.
He saw that Jesus is scary.
Not like a Teletubby kind of scary.
Like a holy, righteous, exalted God.
A powerful God.
This is what he saw.
I think sometimes in our attitude towards God—even in our prayers when we pray to God,
it's like sometimes we're praying in a Community Group or something
and really it's like, 'Okay, I need to pray. So I'm going to say my little prayer.'
But my heart is someplace totally different.
Sometimes when we read the Word of God,
it's like I've got to read,read, read, read, read, and then I'm done.
And I think that as believers, the fight, so much of it, is to get our eyes on Christ
and recognize when we pray, who we're praying to.
When we're reading, recognize whose word we're reading.
It shouldn't be this event where,"Okay, I just need to do my religious thing.
Let's just get this over with so we can watch Monday Night Football or go home."
It's just like, golly, I think our heart needs to be centered on this.
This is a vision of Jesus that should really impact our lives and how we think about Christ.
We shouldn't have this attitude where we just think it's not that big of a deal.
Like prayer isn't a big deal, reading the word isn't a big deal,
or when we come to sing at church we're just singing words instead of focusing
the eyes of our heart on the greatness of Christ.
I often hear people say things like,"I can't wait to die and stand before God
because I'm really going to ask God some questions."
Right?"When I see Him, I am going to ask God some questions."
Just recently I was talking to this guy and he was talking about how when he dies he has a lot of questions for God.
And he doesn't know if God's going to be able to answer some of his questions.
And I said, "What are some of the questions you want to ask God?"
And he says, "You know, I'm going to ask him: God, if you made the universe, then who made you?"
And I said, "Okay. That's good."
And he says, "Dan, as a pastor, do you have any questions you're going to ask God?"
And I just sat there for a second and I said,
"I'd probably ask Him if the moon were made out of cheese, would you eat it?"
And he said, "Really?"
And I said, "No, I'm not going to ask Him that."
But the whole idea, I thought, we're not going to ask God any questions. Right?
When you stand before God, [He] is not accountable to you.
You are going to stand accountable to God.
That's the reality.
And John fell down like a dead man because he recognized who he was dealing with.
He was afraid because he saw the greatness of God.
I think the other reason he fell down was this:
In light of who God is, we see who we are.
I think that John became instantly conscious of how insignificant his life really was.
That's what I think happened.
He stood before Jesus. He saw Jesus.
I think he became instantly aware of his own foolishness in certain areas,
his own nothingness,I think he felt the burden of his own sin.
That seems to be what happens when people come into contact with God.
They begin to feel the burden of their own sin.
I think he knew that, 'If I see God, I should die.'
Isn't that the response every time people in the Old Testament see Jesus?
Whenever they see God, they fall down thinking that they're going to die.
So why did John fall down like a dead man?
Because he saw Jesus.
He saw the exalted Christ.
He became aware of his sin.
The fourth big idea is this:
John wants us to know Jesus is gracious.
Verse 17 says, "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.
He laid His right hand on me and said, "Don't be afraid!
I am the First and the Last, and the Living One.
I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades."
So what happens is John falls down like a dead man
and Jesus comes up to him and He says this,
He puts His right hand on John and He says, "Don't be afraid!"
And I was thinking,I wonder what that must have been like to be John?
You get a glimpse of Jesus.
You think, 'I'm a dead man.'
You fall down on your face.
You think your life is over.
But then what happens is that he actually felt the hand of Jesus on him.
And he said, "Don't be afraid!"
I bet he would have felt pretty relieved.
A sense like, 'I'm dead' and then Jesus says, the One who is God says, "Don't be afraid!"
You know this image of Jesus, you're going to see it someday with your own eyes?
I think you're going to experience it.
This isn't some hypothetical.
Someday you're actually going to look at this image.
You're going to actually see this Jesus.
I think that we'll probably have that same sense.
We're not going to be [saying], "God, you need to answer some questions."
I think there is going to be a sense like, "I'm dead. It's over."
I think there must have been an incredible sense of relief to hear Jesus say, "Do not be afraid!"
But will everybody experience that?
I think the answer is no.
There is another passage in Revelation 6 that describes another encounter with people coming into contact with Jesus.
It says this in Revelation 6:
"Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful,
and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains.
And they said to the mountains and to the rocks,
"Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One
seated on the throne and from the
wrath of the Lamb, because the
great day of Their wrath has come!
And who is able to stand?"
And let me just tell you this:
This is a big part of the good news.
When you die, if you're in Christ, I believe you'll see Jesus and you'll have this sense like,
'Woe is me. I am done. My life is over.I'm a dead man.'
Maybe it won't be this exact experience, but you'll have some sense of Jesus saying, "Don't be afraid."
Right? Don't be afraid.
See, if you're in Christ, all the wrath of God that was aimed at you has been poured out on Christ.
So there is no reason to fear the judgement of God.
But for the rest of the world, those who don't know Christ, when they see Jesus,
they're going to run and hide.
Even this phrase, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne
and from the wrath of the Lamb..."
This idea: "Fall on us and hide us."
You know what they're going to do when people see this? They're going to say, "I'm in trouble."
And they're going to seek death as a way to escape the wrath of the Lamb.
But the only problem is that if they do die and kill themselves, they will die and be resurrected and stand in the same place.
It will be a horrifying event
for those who don't know Christ.
If you're in Christ,you've experienced the grace of God.
There is a place where the grace of God was expressed. And that's at the cross of Christ.
Where all the wrath that was aimed at you, all the punishment, the consequences of sin
that was aimed at you, was poured out on Christ so that you might be forgiven.
Someday, I think that we'll experience some version of this.
We'll see Christ and we'll say, "Woe is me. I'm dead."
But we'll have Jesus say, "Don't be afraid!"
Isn't that crazy to think about?
But for those who don't know Christ, probably many in this room,
if you were to die and see Christ, instead of Jesus saying, "Don't be afraid!"
you'll have a sense like, 'I am afraid.'
and Jesus will say you should be afraid.
You should be afraid.
Because you're going toexperience the wrath of God.
But His desire is for no man to perish, no person to experience that wrath.
That's why He died in your place.
And the Bible says if you'd just be willing, if you'd just turn from your sin—
just turn from it and recognize that, 'I cannot work my way to heaven' and that
'Christ's death, the death of the Lamb of God, was really for me and for the sin of the world.'
And that in Christ you can be forgiven.
Then what will happen is that you come into a relationship with God, and someday when you stand before the Lord, you'll enter heaven.
Not hell. This is the Good News.
As believers, the fight for us is to say, "Yea, Jesus is God. He is holy. He's in control.
He is the One who is ruling andreigning in every way."
We should worship Him that way.
Let's go ahead and close.
Heavenly Father, we just thank you that you're worthy of all of our praise.
And you're worthy of our lives.
I pray that we would just worship you and take you seriously in our lives.
God, help us not to be playing games with you.
God, I pray that we would see that one of the most practical ways we can serve you is by serving this body and other believers in the city.
So help us to be willing to be a great servants; people who love you and love each other.
We pray these things now in Jesus' name. Amen.
Note: This sermon transcript has been edited for readability.