Jesus appeared to his disciples on a number of occasions following his resurrection. Perhaps the most signficant of these is recorded in John 21:1-19 where Jesus specifically took time to speak to Peter. He did this, because in the lead up to the cross, Peter had failed Jesus so badly, denying him three times. So, as they met on the beach, by the fire, the scene that John records unfolds and centres around the question Jesus asked Peter, ‘Do you love me?’
You have to wonder what the church in Sardis thought when they received their letter from the Lord Jesus in Revelation 3:1-6 and read that his estimation of them was that they were ‘dead’. The church at Sardis may well have had the appearance of being alive. Activity. Preaching. Worship. Giving. Outward signs of life…without inward reality! It is clear then that Jesus’ message to this church was written then to bring them back to life and to re-awaken them to repentance, without which the church will never see the blessing of the Lord.
Of all the seven cities listed in this part of Revelation, Thyatira was by far the least important. It was neither a major religious centre nor a regional political capital. It was simply a busy, minor Macedonia trading colony notable, if it was notable for anything at all, for the number of trade guilds that provided the structure for civic society and business life in the city of Thyatira. And yet of all the seven letters, this letter to the believers in Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29 is the longest and the most involved and perhaps the most urgent.
When Jesus spoke to the 7 churches of Asia Minor, he did so to bring forth spiritual life and vitality. This is seen clearly in the message he spoke to the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-17 where the church was in danger of compromising with the world – especially due to their toleration of false teachers. Sadly, church history revelas that whenever the church has played around with the truth, Jesus has come against His Church – not to bless it and make it comfortable, but to bring it back the the ‘straight and narrow’ paths of the Lord.
When Jesus sent His message to the church at Smyrna through John in Revelation 2:8-11, and called them to perservere in their time of suffering for the gospel, He did not forget that they had already suffered much in the way of persecution. However, He did urge them to ‘keep on, keeping on’ in the midst of their trials. Perhaps the believers in Smyrna might have hoped that He would end their trials. Not this time. He called them to endure, but also gave them many promises that would help them do as He bid.
The Lord Jesus gave John seven messages to deliver to the seven churches of the region, and the first of the seven churches mentioned is the one in the city of Ephesus. What Jesus had to say to them was clear in Revelation 2:1-7. There was much to commend the church at Ephesus – they were hard working, dligient and orthodox – but there was one thing that caused Jesus much concern. They had lost their first love. But Jesus not only pointed this out, He also told them the steps needed to bring about the needed renewal.
When John turned to see the voice that was speaking to him in Revelation 1:1-20, he saw the Lord Jesus Christ in all His glory and fell at His feet as ‘though dead’. While the vision John had was of significance, of even more signficiance was what he heard Jesus say. In this second message on Revelation 1:1-20, we find out what Jesus thinks of His church and why he wrote the seven letters that appear in Revelation 2-3.
The book of Revelation is probably the most misunderstood book in the Bible. Admittedly, there are a few good reasons for that, but Revelation 1-3 could not be clearer. They are a message from Jesus to seven churches of the first century. In this first message on Revelation 1:1-20 which forms something of an introduction to chapters 2-3, it is vitally important to note what the book is about and also who it is that John saw in his vision.
When the women first went to the tomb where Jesus has been buried on that first Easter Sunday morning, they never expected to find Him alive. But when Matthew records in Matthew 28:1-20 that Jesus was alive, this changed everything. While they worshipped Him by falling down at His feet, the soldiers who had been guarding the tomb (and saw what happened) and the Jewish authorities were meeting together to spread misinformation about the truth. But no lie can stop the truth, and the whole universe is now under the Lordship on Jesus!
Matthew’ gospel continues to record the ‘things that happened to Jesus’ in Matthew 27:11-44. His sufferings did not end with His denial and betrayal or His arrest and trial, but also extended right up to and including His death on the cross. Matthew records all these things to make it doubly clear that Jesus was innocent of all crime and all sin. That He was the One who was ‘the righteous’ who died for the unrighteous’, to ‘bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18)
• Where we are in Matthew 26 • Vivid, remembered details • Three scenes in the text • See how Matthew tells us of…