The Glorious Vision of Jesus Christ

Dr. Brian Allison

Visions are powerful. Recently, a missionary friend shared with me that a number of Muslims have apparently come to the Christian faith through seeing visions. He reported that a young Muslim man attended a Christian Church, and while he sat there, he had an unusual vision. As a result of that vision, he concluded that the Christian faith must be the true religion. Different ones have claimed experiences of visions; and many of these experiences have been suspect or disputed. Yet, there was one man whose vision is indisputably authenticate, and of which history has proven its undeniable truthfulness. The elderly saint, John the Apostle, had an incomparable, breathtaking vision. He had a vision of the resurrected Lord of Glory. John beheld the regal majesty of Christ; and Christ, in that vision, spoke to him. We read in Revelation 1:17,18, the words of the apostle John, "And when I saw Him [Jesus Christ], I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, 'Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.'"

The staggering vision of glory

Recall that John the Apostle was exiled on the island called Patmos, just off the southwest coast of Asia in the Aegean Sea, in the year 96 AD On the 'Lord's day' (that is, on Sunday), he was in the Spirit. He received an awe-inspiring, spirit-staggering vision which has been recorded. John writes, "And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle. And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength" (Rev. 1:12ff.). What a stupendous vision!

John was utterly overwhelmed. Again, he states, "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man" (1:17a). Now, John did not fall to worship Christ. This collapse was not an act of obeisance. Rather, John beheld a display and disclosure of the glory of Christ; and it shattered him. Here we have a clear evidence and result of one who stands in the presence of the glory of Christ. Here is the inevitable human response when Christ reveals His ineffable beauty and majesty. Weakness overcomes the body and fear consumes the mind.

My friend, you cannot be indifferent when you truly behold Christ's glory. When you really see Him, you cannot be unmoved; you cannot remain cold, you cannot remain unchanged. Like the apostle John, you are brought to your knees; you have no more life in you. When His glory has been manifested to you, then you are devastated, you are speechless, and you are filled with holy trembling. I recall a well known preacher rehearsing a time when he was confronted with the overwhelming glory of Christ. Apparently, it happened only once in his life. He was strolling down a street in London, England, and all of a sudden the glory broke forth, and he was compelled to move back within the cove of a store entrance way. The experience, though unexplainable, was unbearable. That is what a vision of Christ's glory does. The experience radically changes you. Have you seen His glory? That vision, by faith, strips you of all self-confidence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and pride.

A vision of the Shepherd

Do you notice that Jesus did not leave John in that pathetic state? Here we observe the wonder of Christ's character. When John fell at Jesus' feet as a dead man, Jesus laid His right hand upon him. That gesture is intensely personal. Jesus reached out and touched John. Such a touch is a gesture of warmth and comfort. Oh, the power of appropriate touch! Awhile ago, a friend of my wife and mine was overcome with distress and fear, and my wife gave her a hug, and our friend responded, "Oh, I needed that."

This gesture of comfort and warmth, no doubt, reveals the compassionate nature of Jesus. Jesus was pleased to lovingly respond to the pain and struggles of people. And He expressed sincere love with appropriate touch. The appropriate, and timely, touch does not only reveal the heart, but it is a sharing of self. Consider how Jesus ministered through the power of touch. Matthew 8:2 reads, "And behold a leper came to Him, and bowed down to Him, saying, 'Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.' And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed;" and Matthew 8:14, "And when Jesus had come to Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him;" and Matthew 9:27, "And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, and saying, 'Have mercy on us, Son of David!' And after He had come into the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to Him, 'Yes, Lord.' Then He touched their eyes, saying, 'Be it done to you according to your faith.'" Further, recall that on the Mount of Transfiguration, the cloud appeared, and God revealed His Shekinah glory. God thundered out of the cloud and Peter, John, and James were devastated and they fell down in fear. Then we read, "And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, 'Arise, and do not be afraid'" (Mt. 17:7). Again, when Jesus descended toward Jerusalem for the last time, we read, "And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' And the multitude sternly told them to be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' They said to Him, 'Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.' And moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him" (Mt. 20:29-34). With the touch, Jesus clearly displayed His compassion. The power of touch can be so healing.

Do you need a touch from the Saviour? Maybe this past week has been a very difficult and trying one for you. Maybe you received some bad news at work; maybe a family member turned against you; maybe your business went into bankruptcy; maybe a loved one passed away; and as a result, you are hurting. Do you need a touch from the Saviour? Jesus is pleased to touch the brokenhearted, the needy, and the downcast. That was His way, and that is still His way. Remember that well-known song:

Shackled by a heavy burden,

'Neath a load of guilt and shame.

Then the hand of Jesus touched me,

And now I am no longer the same.

He touched me, O He touched me,

And O the joy that floods my soul!

Something happened and now I know

He touched me and made me whole.

Since I met this blessed Saviour,

Since He cleansed and made me whole,

I will never cease to praise Him,

I'll shout it while eternity rolls.

He touched me, O He touched me,

And O the joy that floods my soul!

Something happened and now I know

He touched me and made me whole.

The touch of Jesus' compassion makes one whole. You are healed, and you are never the same. Do you need a touch from the Saviour? Then ask Him for it in prayer.

Notice that Jesus ministers not only the touch of comfort, but also the word of comfort. We read, "And He [Jesus] laid His right hand upon me, saying, 'Do not be afraid'" (1:17a). Isn't that like our Saviour? John is riddled with fear, and Jesus consoled him, "Do not be afraid." Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. Jesus is awesome in appearance, but gentle in manner.

A vision of God

Jesus not only reveals His character, but He also reveals His identity. His character is one of love and compassion; His identity is one of divinity. Jesus proceeded to provide John (and us) with a self-disclosure. Having uttered a word of comfort, Jesus proceeded to utter a word of authority to John. He affirmed, "I am the first and the last" (1:17b). This is the language of deity. Jesus identifies Himself as very God. He is not simply the Son of God, He is God the Son. This phrase – "I am the first and the last" – signifies His eternal existence, and thus His divine existence. Recall God's self-disclosure in Isaiah 44:6, "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.'" Again, we read in Isaiah 48:12, "Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last."

So, Jesus declared that He is God. How do you personally understand Jesus? How do you view Him? J. Gresham Machen, one of the prominent Reformed theologians in the first half of the 20th century, visited Marlburg, Germany, and sat under the teaching of Wilhelm Herrman. Machen attested that he had never witnessed such warm piety, heart passion, and confident trust, as he had witnessed in Herrman; and yet Herrman did not believe in the deity of Christ. To Herrman, Jesus was simply a man, a good, moral teacher. Now, you may profess that you have a relationship with Jesus, but how do you understand this Jesus? Do you see Him as a mere man? A moral teacher? Some enlightened philosopher? A Jewish revolutionary? Jesus affirmed, "I am the first and the last." Jesus averred, "I am God." And if you see Him in any lesser light than that, then you dishonour Him. He is not a mere man, He was not simply a good person, He is God Himself. He is the Architect, the Creator, the Sustainer, as well as the goal and the destiny, of this created world. Romans 11:33 reads, "For from Him and through Him and to Him, are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

Jesus is not only the eternal One, He is the ever-present One. Jesus further self-disclosed His identity to John, "And [I am] the living One" (1:18a). This is another reference to His divine nature. Isaiah 49:18, for instance, reads, "'Lift up your eyes and look around; all of them gather together, they come to you. As I live,' declares the Lord [He is the living One, the ever-present One], 'You shall surely put on all of them as jewels, and bind them on as a bride.'" Jesus declared, "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself" (Jn. 5:26). Jesus has life in Himself, and as a result, He gives life to all. So, in Acts 17:28, Paul preached of God, "For in Him we live and move and exist."

As the living God, Jesus is the ground, the source, and the reason of all life. Do you see what that means? You and I are wholly dependent upon Him for our existence, our being, our life. The very breath that you breathe is the result of His power and grace. Now, you may not have been conscious of the fact that you are breathing now, that your lungs are inflating and deflating, that your chest cavity is moving out and in, that your diaphragm is moving up and down, but you are. Every breath that you take is because Jesus allows you to take it; and with one word, He can take that breath away from you. He is the ground and reason of life, and we are completely dependent upon Him. Further, as the living One, the eternal presence, Jesus sees everything, and He knows everything. He sees all that you do, and knows all that you think and say.

A vision of the resurrected Lord

Now, the amazing truth is this: though Jesus Christ is the eternal and self-existent One, He became a human being. Jesus proceeded to self-disclose His identity to John, "I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." Jesus identified Himself with lost humanity; He assumed human flesh, and He did so in order to save a dying, hell-bound world. He entered this world as the sinner's representative. He came in order to take the sinner's place before a holy God.

Because everyone is born a sinner, because everyone commits sin, God's anger burns against everyone in his or her natural state. God is pleased to sentence and consign every sinner to hell. And yet, here is the wonderful news. In love, God sent His Son Who came as a man. He lived a life of perfect obedience, and He substituted Himself for humanity before the judgement bar of God. He died on the cross, paying the penalty due to a sinful and damned world. As man, He could represent humanity; and as God, His death had infinite and eternal value. He atoned for sin in the offering up of Himself as a sacrifice on the cross to God. He willingly bore the sin of the world, and as a result, He bore and exhausted God's wrath. He died a sinner's death. And yet, because of His own perfect obedience, it was not right nor just that He should remain in death. Because He perfectly obeyed the will of God, God raised Him from the dead. Jesus "was dead, and behold, [He is] alive forevermore."

God not only raised His Son from the dead, but He glorified Jesus and enthroned Him. God gave Jesus all power and authority in heaven and on earth. God made Jesus Lord of the universe and Head of the Church, the Sovereign King. Thus, Jesus further self-disclosed, revealing His identity to John, "And I have the keys of death and of Hades" (1:18b). 'Keys' are simply symbolic of authority, of control. Jesus now has authority over death and the grave. Jesus conquered death; He defeated the grave, He triumphed over hell. Romans 6:9 reads, "Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God."

Because He has the keys of death and Hades, my friend, He, as the Lord of life, can save you from death. These words will be the most important words you will ever read: Jesus is the Lord of life and He is prepared to give you eternal life, if you will have it. Let me be very simple. When you were born, you were destined to die. You were born with the seed of death in you which is slowly unfolding and blossoming in your body. You will die, my friend. All of us will die That is our destiny. We were born to die; and that is the tragedy of the human condition. No one can prevent death; you cannot stop it. It will wrap its bony hands around your throat one day and drag you away. Drink all the herbal tea you like, eat all the nutritious food you like, do all the exercise you like, you will not thwart death's visit, my friend; you will die. Unfortunately, some will die prematurely, before reaching the flower of old age.

Death is an ugly thing, isn't it? One day some of you will go home and the house will be empty and you will be alone; and you will feel the pain of that loneliness. Death is no respecter of persons, nor discriminator of age. Now, this is the good news: Christ died for sinners. Again, you need to believe that Christ represented you, that He died your death, that He received your punishment on the cross. In the death of Christ, we have the death of death. You need to believe that Christ died for you, out of the fullness of divine love, feeling the weight, the pain, and the struggle of the sin of a lost and fallen humanity. My friend, if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and if you believe that He died for you, and that He rose again from the grave, you will be saved from death. You will receive eternal life. If you put your trust in the resurrected Lord of glory, He will share with you His life, having fully experienced your death. It is an act of faith, my friend.

Salvation is in a man. It is not in a church; it does not matter if you attend a church. Salvation is not in performing good works; there are many non-Christians who are more moral than Christians, but your good works will not save you. In fact, your good works will damn you. Salvation is not in a philosophy, however intricate and interesting it is. Salvation is not in tradition, it is not in religion, it is not in the sacraments or ordinances. Salvation is in a man. Salvation is through Jesus' death and resurrection. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). There is no other way, and I set forth that way to you now. You have a choice to make. You can choose the way of death or you can choose the way of life. A little while ago, I heard a preacher speaking about salvation. He said one thing that was very impacting and incredible. When he was a boy, he was troubled about his spiritual state. His mother suggested that he stay home from school and address his struggle. His mother uttered some sagacious and pungent words on that occasion, "Rudy, if you had been the only one who had sinned, Christ still would have had to come and die." My friend, if you had been the only one who had sinned, Christ still would have had to come to die, and He would have. Salvation is in a man, and I offer you salvation, if you will have it. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jn. 3:16). My friend, I invite you to put your faith in the Saviour, saying, "Lord Jesus, finally I come. I acknowledge that you died for my sins and saved me from the wrath of God, and that you give me eternal life. I put my trust in You and accept You as my Saviour and Lord." My friend, won't you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ today?