• Rev. Mark Tews

A Vision of Glory

John wrote the book of Revelation as he was on the island of Patmos after he received the vision of the Lord. This is a brief narrative as it might have been written from John’s perspective after this vision.

I’m an old man now – and a prisoner. I’m pretty worn out, but it turns out old age has some benefits. When you are old, you see things that no one else sees – patterns that stretch over the years, experience with what works and what doesn’t. Most of all, I’ve had time to write. I didn’t want to write anything too soon, but finally, I have written an account of Jesus and His ministry from my firsthand perspective. I tried to use a different approach than Matthew, Mark, and Luke. So, this is my own style – a theological essay, rather than story-by-story. I wanted to capture the true essence of Jesus Christ.

I’ve been on this road now for some 50 years. I guess you could say I’m the last man standing from the original team of twelve that Jesus called us to follow Him. We were as shocked as anyone when we gave up everything to follow Him. Miracles? – there were many. Mercy? – more than all the priests combined. Ministry? – mostly on the streets. That was how we spent our time: preaching, teaching, talking, listening, and praying. For three great years, that was our life together.

Sharing time with Jesus on Earth, we didn’t understand His mission at first. We thought He was going to set up His own government and sit on David’s throne. We had a tough time sorting it all out. Do you ever get confused about this? My mom even got in on it, and one day she approached Jesus to ask Him to grant me and my brother, James, a seat on His right and on His left in His kingdom. (Matthew 20:21). Jesus told her that she didn’t realize what she was asking. None of us truly understood.

That is, until the day that changed everything. When soldiers came to arrest Jesus, we thought it was time to fight. When Jesus was crucified, we thought it was all over. I now realize that was just the beginning. When Jesus rose from the dead – just as He had told us He would do – we looked into an empty tomb with disbelief. And then to see Him again… we finally all believed that indeed, Jesus had returned.

But after a short 40 days, Jesus ascended and it was just us disciples. Before He left, Jesus told us He would never leave us. So, we asked Him if was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. (Acts 1:6). We did it again; we confused earthly politics with God’s priorities. Jesus told us that it wasn’t for us to know when God the Father would do anything by His own authority, but that we would soon receive the power of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Him. So, we waited in Jerusalem and prayed. About a week later, the Spirit made His dramatic entrance – in the form of rushing wind and tongues of fire! We spoke strange languages! Peter testified and 3,000 joined our ranks. That was power indeed – for God’s Kingdom.

Having the Holy Spirit’s power didn’t mean everything was easy. James, my brother, was the first to be martyred. King Herod, who was nothing more than a blood-thirsty thug, commanded his death. Over the years, the Romans came after all of us, even crucifying Peter. So, it's just me now… the others have all gone to our heavenly home. Being old can get lonely at times. I cling to Jesus’ promise that He will be with us to the very end of the age. I survived the Romans, but now live as a prisoner, stuck on Patmos. Some days I have thought about how I will die here. I remind myself that I’m not a prisoner of Rome – I’m a citizen of Heaven, and Jesus is my king!

Now, I’d like to tell you about my last visit with Jesus, which came as a vision. It happened on the Lord’s Day, while I was worshipping Him. I had a beautiful sense of His presence, and suddenly, a voice told me, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:11). When I heard the voice, I turned around, and there He was – my glorified and triumphant Savior, Jesus Christ! He was dressed in a long robe reaching all the way down to His feet and He was wearing a golden sash around His chest. The hair on His head was white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like glowing bronze in a furnace and His voice like the sound of rushing waters. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. I saw Jesus’ divinity no longer veiled. That’s my King, and I belong to His kingdom! “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 now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’” (Revelation 1:17–18).

Jesus reassured me – Herod and Caesar are not my kings – Jesus is my King! What comfort it was for me to remember that I do not belong to Rome. My friends, knowing the eternal glory that the future holds for all who belong to the name of Jesus Christ, I boldly and fearlessly say to you, with utmost confidence, HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! Have no fear little flock, for the Father has chosen to give you His Kingdom. Go serve the Lord, you are free! Thanks be to God!