For almost as long as I can remember, the “revelation of Jesus Christ,” has often been identified with the end of the world, or some other frightening event. We often hear that we are living in the last days which are foretold in the last book of the Bible, “The Revelation.”
Eventually I learned that the book of Revelation was in fact about the revelation which was first given to Jesus Christ, and in turn given to John who wrote it all down. The things that John recorded has fascinated many for two thousand years, but today I want to talk about the most fascinating subject of all, the revelation that Jesus Christ wants to reveal of Himself to us!
What we call the New Testament in the Bible witnesses to the fact that Jesus Christ came to a number of individuals and made Himself known unto them in a very special way. One of the first instances we read about was with the apostle Peter. One day Jesus was asking his disciples about who the people thought He was. They answered that some thought Jesus might be the reincarnation of John the Baptist, others Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Then Jesus asked them, “who do YOU say that I am?”
The response is found in Matt 16:16-18:
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.'” (NASU)
Peter had received a revelation. Something was revealed to him or made plain that had previously been hidden. To the multitudes Jesus was someone special, like a prophet or teacher of spiritual and moral things. But God the Father in Heaven had given Peter a gift, that gift was the knowledge that Jesus was more than just a man! He was revealed to Peter to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!
In another instance, Peter, along with the brothers James and John, were given an additional glimpse into the glory of Christ.
Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9:27-36 describe this event. Some time after they went up into a high mountain it appeared to them as if His face and clothing became as brilliant as the sun. They were obviously confused and disoriented by this and were even frightened.
“a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matt 17:5 KJV)
Peter, in his second letter to believers wrote about this experience.
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory,
‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” (2 Peter 1:16-18 KJV)
It would be impossible for us to fully comprehend the impact that simply knowing Jesus had on His disciples, but experiences like witnessing the transfiguration must have been even more life transforming! We are careful to not pit the knowledge of divine truth against supernatural experience, but it would be wise for us to have at least an equal appreciation of both. While many even thousands of hearts have often remained hardened after seeing sensational miracles and the power of God, others have testified to the change that specifically seeing the Lord more clearly had upon them.
Consider the prophet Isaiah, who had already been worshipping and serving God for some time, when a vision of Christ was given to Him. In it he saw the Lord “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.” He also saw great mysterious winged creators called Seraphim, flying overhead, crying:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,, The whole earth is full of His glory.”
After that the whole place began to quake and become filled with smoke. Then this holy man began to cry out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!, Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Amidst this frightful and dramatic scene, Isaiah saw the holiness of God in such a way that revealed his sinfulness, and yet grace was already in the room! One of the seraphim took a burning coal from the alter and placed it upon Isaiah’s lips signifying that God Himself had cleansed him of his sin and iniquity. (Isaiah 6:1-7)
A similar thing happened to another great man in the Bible. God before had testified that he was blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. (Job 1:8). And yet, near the end of the story in the book of Job, he began to see himself in the light of God’s glory and righteousness, saying:
“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6 NIV)
The outcome of all that had transpired in this story of Job’s suffering is that He too had a transforming vision of God!
Throughout the Bible we can find, if we look carefully, evidence of lives that were forever changed by an encounter with the Almighty! One most dramatic and that was told several times in the Acts of the apostles, is that of Saul of Tarsus. Here was an arch-enemy of Christianity, a man obsessed with stamping out what he viewed as a heretical movement among his fellow Jews.
While on his journey to persecute the followers of Christ in Damascus, he was stopped in his tracks by Christ Himself. A light from heaven shone all around him as he fell to the ground and heard the voice of Jesus.
” ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’
Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'” (NKJV)
Now, blinded by the light for three days he would fast and pray and wait for one of the Christians he was fighting against to come and pray for him. From the time his sight was restored he became one of the most, if not the most powerful witnesses for Christ in all of history!
This experience would be forever embedded in his mind. All his years of training in Judaism could not accomplish what this one meeting with Christ did to set him free. Not only that, but the memory of this encounter with the risen Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit within him would sustain him and empower him for a lifetime of suffering and service in spreading the Gospel over the Mediterranean region!
In the Bible we can read of many others whose lives were changed by divine encounters. Some were more dramatic, others more subtle. How about you? Do you have anything in common with Noah, who received directions from God like no one before him had, or Abraham, who was called to leave his comfort zone? How about Sarah, who after waiting with Abraham many years for their promised son, was later reassured by divine messengers that the time had come? Some were told things by God that they were prompted to tell, others things they had to keep to themselves. What about you?
You might say, we are not living in the Bible days. Times were different then. You might think that visions and visitations are only for special people, but not for ordinary ones like you and me. It is true that Moses and Paul had unusual experiences, but in fact both of them hoped that all would have intimate relationships with Christ. They knew that normal humanity began with God and man walking together as friends.
This was Paul’s prayer and also that of the apostle John.
“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,”
Here he expresses the fact that even believers need to see Christ unveiled!
“and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”
We also need a deeper grasp of what He has done on our behalf!
“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (NKJ)
Finally we need a revelation of the position and standing we have as His people, His true Church, individually members of His Body in the earth!
The apostles believed that through their sharing His message and their experiences, we too could have a revelation of Jesus Christ!
Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:7-9:
“Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”(NIV)
The beloved disciple John penned these words in a letter to believers.
1 John 1:1-4:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”
While we do not have the privilege of their ministries in person, we do have their most important teachings in writing. Not only that, but we have the entire Old Testament and the help of the Holy Spirit, leading us into all truth, so that we too can see Christ in all His glory! All we need is a submissive and believing heart.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul was writing about the New Covenant ministry of the Spirit. He explained that so many missed the message of the holy writings of Moses, David and the prophets. The truth of the person of Christ was hidden to them, as if under a veil. He put forth what had happened to him and everyone else who had this “Veil over their hearts.” When their hearts were turned to the Lord, the veil was removed, enabling them to see Christ in the Scriptures!
Therefore we, whose hearts are humbled and submissive to Him, are able to see Christ, not with our physical eyes, but more importantly through the eyes of our understanding!
Then we all, having the veils over our minds removed, seeing the reflection of His glory in The Word, are transformed into that same image by the supernatural power of His Spirit! (2 Corinthians 3:14-18)
Let’s be honest. To live the life that we desire, to truly follow the example of Jesus is very difficult. Actually in human terms it is impossible. Only by the help and grace of God is it possible at all. He has given us many things to strengthen us and encourage us. First of all the New Birth, by which we become innocent and new in Him. Then He has given us pastors, teachers and fellow believers to encourage us along the way. But if all we see in the church is methods, plans and programs, we can miss the important fact that all things have been provided so that we can increasingly see the glory of Christ and be changed from glory to glory into His image!
As awesome and fantastic as this sounds, the ultimate goal of God in Christ is that WE TOO will be unveiled, revealed to the world with Christ, as His glorious Bride without spot, wrinkle or defect. In another sense we will be known as joint heirs with Christ, sons and daughters of God to share His glory for the blessing of all creation! Not my words but His!
(Ephesians 5:25, Romans 8:-22, 28-30)
Paul writes in Colossians 3:4:
“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” NKJV
And John in 1 John 3:2-3:
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (NKJV)
All we have said here is to both challenge and encourage you. If you are a believer and follower of Christ, you have a marvelous destiny in Him. If you are reading this and desire to be a part, call upon Him, seek out those who know Him and let them pray with you. Christ wants you also, to have a revelation of Him, and to become a revelation of Him as well!