4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
My friend was absolutely indominable. He knew where he was going and there was no deterring him. Things happened, it is true, and sometimes he did not get what he wanted. In fact, quite often he did not get what he wanted, but he never wavered from his purpose. He was a missionary. He had later served as a pastor, but he never stopped being a missionary. It always came back around to introducing people to Jesus, what he had done, what he had promised to do (history and God’s promise were the same thing in my friend’s mind, he relied on them both.)
I must admit that sometimes I quibbled with him about tactics. But I also came to admire his constancy, even when he frustrated me. Where did that come from? He loved the book of Revelation and I think verse 12 was important to him. John turns and sees this wonderful revelation of Christ standing among seven lampstands. This Jesus is positively awesome. He has eyes like a flame, feet of bronze, a voice like a mighty waterfall and from his mouth comes a two-edged sword. As interesting as this image of Jesus might be, what is even better is where he stands: among the seven lampstands and with seven stars in his hands.
If we keep reading in Revelation, we learn that the seven lampstands are the seven congregations to whom John writes and the seven stars in his hand are the seven pastors of those churches. I think my friend’s constancy and courage came from the fact that he always thought of himself as being in the hands of Jesus, a Jesus whose word was powerful, whose sight was clear, who was immoveable in his love for people. That Jesus was in the church and held him in his hand. That Jesus is among you as well. He is frightening to your enemies. But he holds your pastor in his hands. He has risen from the dead to be among you. The world cannot overcome Him.