Every year I find myself a bit startled upon reaching the last book in the Bible. I don’t know, it just seems to surprise me that I am there and, then, about to begin, again, in Genesis. I once wrote about this experience: Maybe it’s just the kick of having read the whole of God’s Word to us. Maybe it’s the realization of how weighty and extremely important is this book I hold in my hands, and that I have it and can read it and can talk about it without fear. Maybe it’s the understanding that, in coming to the end of the Bible, I am also coming to the end of the year. I’m not sure about the explanation for my startlement (is that a word?), but here I am.
I also wrote: I think I have never really thought much about this. This revelation of what “must soon take place” (1:1) is actually first given to Jesus: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him” (1:1). It appears that the Father gave this revelation to his Son, which seems consistent with Jesus’ response to his disciples in Matthew: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). Now, the Father shows the Son what will take place. There’s a bit of mystery here, it seems to me. I mean, I’ve always wondered about this matter of the Son not knowing (Acts 1); after all, he is God. Nevertheless, the Father has now shown the Son, and us (“and to his servants” 1:1), what will happen. And he has done so for our own comfort and encouragement.
And then, another mystery. John tells us that those who read these words are blessed to read them because “the time is near” (1:3). Really? It’s been almost 2,000 years. And every generation has been persuaded that its time is THE time. Maybe that’s the point, i.e., that each generation should live with that expectation, which serves as a motivation to live as we should because Jesus’ return might be close.
You know, there is so much in this first chapter, about God, about his great love to us, about the churches of the time (with lessons for us), etc. This is an amazing book and needs careful reading.
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
once for ev’ry sinner slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Christ reveals his endless reign. –Charles Wesley (1758)