The Word for today:
mark this: Revelation 1:17-18
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
I get criticized for what I’m about to write, but criticism just sort of eggs me on. So here goes.
When a friend enters the room, are you in the habit of falling down as if struck dead?
I hear all this talk about Jesus being our friend. And yet when John, who is singled out by scripture as the disciple whom Jesus loved (1), first sees the glorified Jesus Christ, he falls down as if dead!
Quite the friendship.
The Bible says that we are Jesus’ friends when we obey him:
You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:14)
Are you Jesus’ friend by his own definition? Are you obeying him right now? And not just the easy kind of negative obedience–not cussin’, not brawlin’, not stealin’, not runnin’ around on your wife. “Not doing things” probably constitutes (by my calculations!) about 1% of what it means to obey God.
But are you obeying him in the positive sense of what it means to obey? Are you doing, today, the things he has told you to do with your life?
If you are, then call him “Friend.” But if you aren’t, then I’d drop the easy familiarity because it’s not rightfully yours. And it’s not rightfully mine.
As we read the book of Revelation, let the full character and personality of the complete Jesus emerge before your eyes. For the next month, while we read and study this book, let the Bible speak for itself, and let it reveal Jesus Christ on its own terms. Forget, if you will, for one month what your preacher says about Jesus, what Chris Tomlin says about Jesus, what Beth Moore says about Jesus, what (my hero) J. Vernon McGee says about Jesus, what your friends–believers and unbelievers–say bout Jesus, what Hollywood says about Jesus, what the Stand in the Rain bloggers say about Jesus, what your mother says about Jesus–and just let Jesus emerge from the book written by God the Holy Spirit (who knows Jesus best.)
Maybe, just maybe, when you meet up with Jesus as the Spirit describes him, you will start to become a little less casual about some of the of the things he has commanded. Maybe, just maybe, when we consider the complete, biblical Jesus, we might start to take him a lot less for granted.
Maybe, just maybe, we will experience a little bit of what the Bible calls the fear of the LORD.
And then, perhaps, we will find ourselves obeying this un-familiar Jesus whom we have encountered in scripture.
And then, wonder of wonders, we will become his friends–on his terms.
(1) John 13:23 (and four other instances)