I have started a series of sermons on the book of Revelation. I never thought that I would ever preach through such a puzzling book. A leader suggested it recently and my immediate reaction was that there were too many interpretations. A Bible study or small group discussion instead of the Sunday pulpit would be a better place to explore it. That was that. However, over a period of time something happened inside that I cannot fully explain. Like the tide, grace came in and I was ready to go for it. One reason could be the messages to the seven churches that I heard during the Turkey-Greece Bible tour. Another was simply a sense of the Spirit inviting me to get out of the safety of my Pentecostal boat and walk on expository waters over the long stretch. In addition, there was that inner freedom to delegate my other duties and to focus on maximizing my spiritual gift of teaching/preaching.
I know that the easy portions of Revelation chapters 1-5 would give me about 3 months to examine the more difficult terrain beyond. Beyond are the lands of dragons, seals, trumpets, beheaded saints, pale horses and all kinds of strange creatures. This is going to be an interesting journey. I hope to blog a little about the insights I gained while preparing these sermons. I trust I am not biting more than I can chew.
Last Sunday I preached Revelation chapter 1 and sort of gave an introduction to the series. The who, why, what, where, how and when questions were answered in the course of going through the text. The real meat was the vision that John had of the glorified Christ. It was an overwhelming vision of a Christ John never quite knew. John lived with, touched, saw, talked to the Word made flesh, the meek Lamb of God, but this time he had a startling vision of great majesty and glory of a risen, exalted, fierce Christ who symbolically revealed Himself as the Sovereign and Judge (Rev1:13-17). It was so powerful that strength and energy left him and he fell dead like one electrocuted by Life.
We always have to stay in the creative tension caused by the opposite pulls of polar truths. In this case it was Christ as both Saviour and King/Judge. If we see Jesus only as the King and Judge, full of ruthless severity we will cultivate a spirituality that tends towards being Pharisaical – full of hypocrisy and hidden sin, or a self righteousness and a joyless religiosity and pride. If on the opposite end we see Jesus only as the Saviour full of gentle kindness always, we will develop a spirituality that tends towards that of the Sadducees – tolerant to if not compromising to the values, practices and spirit of the world. But if we view Jesus in his fullness as Saviour and King/Judge, we live in a creative tension that grows a wholesome discipleship after Jesus own heart. “Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God. (Romans 11:22 Message).