I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. — Revelation 1:18
The last book of the Bible, Revelation—meaning “unveiling” or “disclosure”—should really be called “A Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelation is all about Jesus letting His people know about Himself. It was His intentional self-disclosure!
This important revelation was granted to John in troubled days for the sake of the Christians who lived in the Roman world. John sent it as a letter to seven churches to encourage them in their faith. The letter was designed to strengthen their resolve and to brace them for the struggles they were facing.
Jesus’ self-disclosure was particularly significant to the Christians who first received the letter, because Jesus was reminding them who He is. He was making sure they understood that He is worthy of their trust, committed to their well-being, and certain of His own ultimate victory over the wicked forces so belligerently arrayed against them.
Times have changed, but the message of Jesus’ self-disclosure has not—nor has our need to hear it! Jesus has not changed, and Christians are still called to live as Christians—as followers of Christ—in a world that often demonstrates both disregard of Jesus and relentless antipathy toward Him. This world is not always a comfortable place for disciples of Jesus.
As John tried to describe the indescribable—a vision of the triumphant Lord—he used the inadequate words available to him and painted a dramatic picture full of symbols and colorful metaphors. But we are left with only a pale reflection of what he actually saw. When he reported the message Jesus gave him, however, the words were clear and forceful: “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (1:17‑18).
Jesus wanted the people to know that, as the “First and Last,” He was intimately involved in the beginning of all things and in charge until the end of all things. As the “living one,” He was distinct from all the dead gods worshiped by other people. But He was not just any “living one”—He had died! He was not just alive, He was alive from the dead, “forever and ever!” Because of His death and resurrection, Jesus had defeated death and was now in charge of both death and the grave. Comforting words, indeed, for Christians facing the possibility of death at the hands of an unstable emperor!
Almost 2,000 years have elapsed since Jesus revealed Himself. They have been centuries of challenge, hardship, triumph, and victory. The little group of apostles has grown to a church of millions throughout the world. And every living member of that church needs to remember what every generation has recognized: simply—who Jesus is! He is the “Alpha” who gives meaning to existence, the Savior who brings salvation to the helpless, and the “living one” who imparts power to the redeemed. And finally, He is the “Omega” who guarantees our eternal destiny.
For further study: Revelation 1:1-18
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.