In our New Testament reading today (Revelation 1, 2), we see through John’s eyes, a wonderful picture of our Lord and Master. There is something which we might almost overlook, but which should be encouraging! John turns to hear the one addressing him and sees seven golden lampstands (ch 1 v 12). What comes next needs to be burned into our minds—in the middle of the lampstands, he sees an amazing man standing. From the description (vv 13-16), we know it is Jesus. John, with his brother James and Peter, had previously seen this particular man shining like the sun in its noon day brilliance on the mountain of transfiguration. We could profitably spend time on what these components, which make up this unique man, might mean. On this occasion, I want us to think of him simply standing in the middle of seven lampstands. The seven lampstands, Jesus tells John, are the seven congregations or churches in locations across western Turkey. In chapters 2 and 3, Jesus addresses those seven congregations and particularly their elders.
Jesus is standing, not sitting. Is that important? A number of times the promise of Jesus sitting at the right hand of his Father is described (for example, see Psalm 110 v 1 or Matthew 25 v36). But in this vision, he is not sitting, he is standing. Jesus in his immortal state is described on another occasion, standing at his Father’s right hand (see Acts 7 v 56). The act of standing implies that he is ready for action or is engaging in action. It is clear that his location among these seven lampstands is the consequence of him ‘walking’ and now ‘standing’ among these congregations of disciples. His active involvement is then seen from the specific problems which Jesus addresses in chapters 2 and 3. He is intimately aware of the spiritual state of each congregation in these seven locations. He knows who each member is, because he comments on some who are faithful and some who are not. He makes comment on individual members. He knows the ‘culture’ and commitment of each congregation. He knows their economic circumstances. He knows what is concerning them. He comments on their moral conduct. And, having never visited Turkey during his mortal life, he now knows their location and its particular geographic conditions and features which he then uses to comment and draw lessons on their spiritual conduct.
So then what is the lesson? If Jesus in the days of John, is ACTIVELY standing among these seven congregations and knows their physical and spiritual wellbeing, he is also ACTIVELY standing right next to YOUR congregation, today. He still stands among the candlesticks in each place and ‘walks’ between each observing, evaluating, and guiding each one! If your home is in Africa, Europe, the America’s, or Asia….he’s there with you now! At the same time, he’s here with me. He knows as much about all his family worldwide, as each of us know about ourselves and our immediate environment and spiritual family. In his worldwide community, he knows whether elders are doing their jobs correctly. He knows where they are succeeding and where they are failing. He knows about our work on his behalf. He knows about YOU. He knows whether you are struggling or whether you are strong in his service. Similarly, he knows about me too! Isn’t that wonderful—he knows! Oh, by the way—this is being posted via email and social media—he is here on Facebook too! He is standing by! He doesn’t post, but he can read and sometimes he must be joyful, he must smile with pleasure—but sometimes he will feel concern and may frown. Remember that next time you post a message and hit ‘send’! I need to do the same!
So in the next week, let each of us be very aware of the presence of our Lord and Master, Jesus with us. He is always at our side! He’s walking with us—he’s walking among our spiritual family, he knows its strengths and its weaknesses. He knows our joys and concerns. He is wanting to ‘be there for us’ so that we each can better reveal him and his life to the world in which we live. He wants to influence our thinking and actions and guide us. He wants us to be a perfect image of himself, the man made in the image and likeness of God. His message is personal—it is to you and me.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.” (ch 3 v 19)
So what are we waiting for? He already knows us and stands by…. open the door and warmly invite him in!
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