Jesus in Our Midst

Through Trial to Triumph  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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I don't know about you, but I've made some dumb decision that caused me suffering. When I was in high school, I tried to impress a girl. I tried to sound like I was the smartest guy in the room. We all know the truth now.
She hated my guts for the rest of high school. She never had anything good to say about me. There was no recovering from my prideful approach. All the suffering this decision brought me was my fault.
But the suffering we do as Christians needs to be for Jesus' name, not our mistakes. We can't call it persecution if we cause our suffering. But when we suffer for Jesus, that's a whole different matter.
In John's day, the churches everywhere were suffering under the Roman Emperor Domitian. He wanted to eradicate Christians from the Roman Empire. Just mentioning the word Christian opened the door to social, financial, and possible physical suffering.
John received a revelation of Jesus Christ. This image of Jesus set the stage for how Christians react to persecution. Let's turn to Revelation 1:9- 22 see what John saw.

Jesus with Us (Revelation 1:9-11)

Revelation 1:9–11 NKJV
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. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

Jesus Our Comforter

John doesn't introduce himself as superior in the faith. He is their brother, one who suffers with them as a partner in ministry. He's not the general who stands behind the lines and watches people die. He's in the middle of suffering himself.
John suffers for the gospel as a political prisoner on the island of Patmos. From the island, he Can see the land of Asia Minor were the seven churches are located.
John speaks of tribulation and patient endurance in the same breath. Endurance is bearing up under the pressure of persecution. Tribulation includes suffering, affliction, and oppression. These happen as we serve Christ.
He talks about tribulation and God's kingdom together. Though we don't talk about suffering very much in American Christianity, it's part of the gospel. The spiritual principle is that we reign with Christ after we suffer for him. We can't have the reward without the cost. Our trials amount to triumph in the end.
Patmos had a mining quarry from marble, so John probably suffered hard labor in his exile. In this suffering, Jesus comes to him with a message for the suffering church.
Because he preached the Word of God, he was under persecution and tribulation. The Bible says that the word of our testimony overcomes the enemy. Jesus comforts us in the midst of our trials by showing up and walking with us.
Application: How do you react to persecution and trials? John is worshiping Jesus as he suffers. Do you run the God? We usually look for ways to get out of suffering. But we must persevere when persecution and trials come. Jesus is with us.

Jesus Our Peace

John tells us what happened to him . He has a message for the church, but it came in a special way.
He describes his situation in the midst of imprisonment and persecution, as being "in the Spirit" on the Lord's day. The Lord's day is Sunday, the first day of the Roman work week. Christians celebrated Jesus' resurrection on Sunday.
"In the Spirit" is probably an ecstatic state, like the Old Testament prophets, to receive from the Holy Spirit. His visions in the prophecy of Revelation don't come from him. They come from the Holy Spirit.
John write Scripture as an apostle, and this may be how he does it. Inspired Scripture comes from the Holy Spirit. John's authority as an apostle comes from the Spirit.
Jesus gives John and us great gifts in trial and suffering. He gives his presence, prophecy of the future, peace in suffering. He provides fellowship in our greatest need.

Jesus Our Lord

Jesus comes to John in his suffering and speaks the words of life. But his voice was different. It is loud and powerful, like the sound of a trumpet. He proclaims his message.
God's voice is powerful. It's unmistakable. From creation when God spoke everything into existence out of nothing to when he speaks to us, he will be heard.
If we don't listen when Jesus speaks, we're not ready to obey. We can't call him Lord. Roman soldiers proclaimed, "Caesar is Lord!" But we know and proclaim, "Jesus is Lord!"
Jesus tells John to record everything he will experience and send it to the churches. The seven churches of Asia Minor struggle with the same issues we see throughout history.
Application: Jesus is always with us and everything we face. When we face persecution or suffering, he walks with us. His presence guides us. We must not be afraid of persecution or suffering. Jesus is in control and nothing surprises him.

Jesus before Us (Revelation 1:12-16)

Revelation 1:12–16 NKJV
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
Transition: John turns around to see the glorified Jesus standing before him. He reports eight images of his vision. These images describe Jesus and four roles

Jesus among the Churches

Before John describes Jesus, he shows Jesus' location. He is among the seven lampstands. Revelation 1:20 tells us the lampstands are the churches of Asia Minor.
The lampstands shine the gospel light in the dark world. We evangelize even when trial and persecution come.
Jesus among the lampstands appears for the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1).
Illustration: Tertullian, a fourth century early church father, declared, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." He saw persecution strengthening the church. Look at underground churches in China in the middle east. They thrive despite opposition.
Application: Jesus stands in the midst of the churches. His presence is always with us. We must remain in his presence and work in his power to be effective in trials and persecutions.

Jesus the King

Son of Man
John calls Jesus the "Son of Man." This image comes from Daniel 7:13-14. It shows Jesus as king of God's kingdom. He reigns from his throne in heaven over creation.
He has authority over everything. He is sovereign and in control of human history.
Image #1: Long Robe and Golden Sash
This is an allusion to Daniel 10:4 where the prophet sees Jesus.
The long robe signifies Jesus' royal authority. The golden sash shows royalty. Common workers wore the sash around their waists, but rulers wear it around the chest.
The golden sash declares Jesus is King with great authority. In the church letters he will act as sovereign King, evaluating each church.
Image #4: Feet of Burnished Bronze
As the divine king, Jesus is ready to battle the enemy. He reads his people into war. Bronze feet speak of strength
The burnished bronze feet are reminiscent of the divine being Daniel saw in his vision (Daniel 10:6). They also appear in Ezekiel 1:7.
Jesus, the glorious divine worrier, strides into battle to judge his enemies with strength and power. The molten bronze feet shine with brilliance.
This image appears for the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18).
Image #5: Voice like Rushing Waters
King Jesus' voice commands his people, his voice sounding like rushing waters. But John understands what he says.
As God, his powerful voice (Ezekiel 1:24; 43:2), leads his people. The Old Testament prophets use this language to describe God's voice.
This is another allusion to the divine figure Daniel saw (Daniel 10:6).
John mentions Jesus' voice throughout this vision. His voice is like a trumpet (Revelation 1:10), and the roar of many waters (Revelation 1:15).
Application: We must listen to Jesus' voice. In John 10, he says his sheep, his people, know his voice. Out of the voices in our world today, trying to sell us things or change our minds, we must listen only to Jesus' voice and obey him.

Jesus the Wise

Image #2: His White Hair
Jesus isn't just the King but also wise. Whitehair shows his wisdom from the foundation of the world.
This goes back to Daniel 7:9 and Daniel 10:6. Whitehair shows his deity and connection to his Father, the Ancient Days.
Jesus is the cat wisdom of God from of old. His wisdom is greater then our lifetime of achievement. But he shares his wisdom with us freely.

Jesus the Judge

Image #3: Eyes of Fire
Jesus' fiery eyes penetrate the soul. He sees everything we are. No one can escape his piercing eyes. He judges the righteous and the wicked.
This is another image Daniel sees in his prophetic vision (Daniel 7:9-10).
Jesus will judge the wicked. The judgment also begins with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). He purifies his people, preparing for his arrival.
In the church letters, Jesus judges perfectly. His fiery eyes evaluate the good and bad in each church. This image appears for the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18).
Illustration: Blacksmiths use fire to refine metals. He purifies every imperfection from the metal to his high standards. Jesus' fiery eyes refines each of us. He eliminates sin, but strengthens our faith. He wipes out wishy-washy and lukewarm Christianity.
Image #7: Sword of His Mouth
The sharp double-edged sword is the sword of the Spirit, God's Word. He judges the nations by his Word. This broad sword may be the rod that comes out of the Messiah's mouth (Isaiah 11:4).
He can wield the sword as a weapon, and he does in the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:15).
Armies used this sword for cavalry charges, fitting for the Rider on the white horse at we get in. The Roman short sword is different. Jesus proclaims judgment from his mouth and executes it with this sword.
This image appears for the church of Pergamum (Revelation 2:12).

Jesus the Glorious

Image #8: Jesus' Brilliant Face
Jesus' brilliant face and clothes highlight his glory. Glory has two meanings in the Bible, a heaviness of importance or a brilliant light.
This might remind John of the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus showed a preview of his brilliant glory. But here he is glorified to judge the world.
These themes of glory and judgment go together. Jesus in his glorious splendor has the authority to judge his people and the nations.
Image 6: Stars in His Right Hand
The stars in Jesus' right-hand refer to angels responsible for the seven churches. Stars often represent angels in the Old Testament. They are synonymous with angels in Revelation.
This passage indicates these may be guardian angels for the churches. In Daniel every nation had an angel, so the churches may have angels that guard them and are responsible for observing and reporting to God their progress.
In our Western culture, we are skeptical of angels and supernatural beings. But battles in the spiritual round happen all around us. Angels are real and he was on call 14 says they are ministering spirits for us.
Jesus' right-hand shows his power and protection of the churches through the angels. They present themselves to the Lord (Job 1-2)
This image appears for the churches of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1) and Sardis (Revelation 3:1).
Application: Even in our suffering, Jesus is our sovereign King and the Lord. He leads us through our trials. He protects us in adversity. We worship our glorious Lord in suffering because we know that joy comes in the morning.

Jesus with Us (Revelation 1:17-20)

Revelation 1:17–20 NKJV
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

Worship Jesus

John's description of Jesus takes him longer to write than to see when he turns around. He immediately fell facedown in worship. There is no other appropriate reaction for us when we see the resurrected Jesus in his full glory.
As John worships, Jesus puts his right hand on John, strengthening him to receive the visions. The right-hand shows power. The seven stars are also in his right hand, but this shows his power.
Through the visions Jesus reveals in Revelation, he is victorious in the end times. He is sovereign, in charge of everything.
Jesus tells John to not be afraid. There's no reason for believers in Jesus to be afraid during trials and suffering. Jesus already defeated the powers of this world. We fear the Lord in reverence and worship. But we are not afraid of his judgment.
Jesus is the First and Last. It shows his sovereignty over human history, existing before and after the world. He gained his authority over the creation through his death and resurrection. He cannot die again. He conquered death and the grave once and for all.
This name of Jesus and his being alive forever more appears for the church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8).
Application: Our only response to Jesus is worship. He is worthy of all our praise. Despite the trials we face in the suffering we endure Jesus controls everything. We have nothing to fear because Jesus8 death and the grave. We live in his power now and forever.

Proclaim Jesus

Jesus holds the keys of death and Hades. Some think Jesus has authority over the gods of this world. But it probably refers to his death and resurrection, conquering death and the grave forever.
His authority gives us freedom. He gives us authority to proclaim our victorious Lord to this world. Everything in creation bows to Jesus. Nothing we face can defeat Jesus.
Jesus commissions John to write the prophecies in Revelation about his victory in the end times. John writes things he has seen, things that are, things that will be.
Things that were: the vision of Jesus in his glory (Revelation 1:12-16).
Things that are: the state of the seven churches and the church in general.
Things that will be: the prophecies of Revelation John will witness.
When we follow Jesus, we must obey all his commands. John writes down everything Jesus reveals to him. He writes it while he witnesses it.
Jesus reveals the mystery of the seven stars and lampstands. Mystery refers to something formerly unseen and now revealed. This is why we know what they are. As we serve Jesus, he reveals everything we need to be effective for him.
Jesus controls both the angels and the churches. He is also present among them. He cares for the churches in the midst of persecution and trial.
Application: In the middle of a hostile environment of persecution and trials, we follow Jesus in obedience. We are already victorious in Christ. We can stand up under pressure because Jesus has won the war. Because he conquered death, we will be raised with him.


(Call worship team to platform and have everyone stand)
We've covered a lot of ground. But the big picture is that despite our circumstances, Jesus is glorious and sovereign. Our confidence is in him, not ourselves. Even though we suffer persecution, Jesus receives all the glory.
We have fellowship with God no matter what we face. And we have fellowship with other saints in his church, his body. We comfort one another as we face the trials of this life.
(Have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes)
For Unbelievers: It may sound like following Jesus isn't a great option if we all these persecutions and trials. But fellowship with God and like-minded believers is worth it. And Jesus wins. If you feel the call of the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus despite the dangers, raise your hand. (Pray with them)
For Believers: We live in the end times. We will experience persecution. But knowing Jesus is victorious, and we along with him, makes it worth any suffering we go through. Let's encourage one another in times of trial and suffering. Jesus is still on the throne!
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