The final scriptural passage of our biblical resurrection romp, and I am sad to close this portion of our reflections. But worry not, dear reader, as we have plenty enough to enjoy together before Pentecost Day in these daily visits! And we close in the most unlikely of places, the bible’s crescendo, the Book of Revelation to John. Yep, this is the formal title for the New Testament’s ultimate text, chronicling the future consummation of God’s purpose for all of creation. The To John subtitle is significant; Revelation is appended under the broader Johnannine patronage umbrella much like Hebrews is appended under Pauline patronage. While there are geographic echoes tethering the Gospel, Letters and Revelation together, most certainly the Revelation author is not the Apostle John nor the author of the Johnannine Gospel. Evidence suggests a Judean Jewish believer who fled Jerusalem after the city’s destruction in 70 AD before settling in western Anatolia. Revelation most likely dates in the final years of the Roman Emperor Domitian, perhaps as late as 96 A.D.
A full survey of this complex, densely-layered work is far beyond our scope here. Rather, we focus upon whether the resurrected Jesus appears or speaks in this text. He does! In Rev chapter 1 the visionary John explicitly names the divine personage he sees in Rev. 1:9-20 as the Risen Lord, enthroned in all the supernatural splendor of the fully visible Kingdom of the Heavens; in Rev. 1:13 John states clearly I saw one like the Son of Man (channeling Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel’s earlier prophetic visions), a title Jesus used for Himself frequently in the gospel accounts. The next three chapters are Jesus’ majestic statements to seven churches situated in western Anatolia, the single longest statement from the Risen Jesus anywhere in the New Testament. Then John’s visions unfold with terribly graphic apocalyptic detail (the word in Greek means immanent cosmic cataclysm) until the heavens and the earth are destroyed and remade at the end of days. Then, near the end (Rev. 22:16), Jesus reappears: It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. Through all the horrifying world ending drama, Jesus is there the entire time! Revelation answers the haunting Johannine mystery of where Jesus went at the end of the gospel, or during the letters, or during the end of the world. Nowhere. John’s church experienced a continuous presence of the Risen Christ personally and incarnationally with no hint of ascension ever. He is with us always, right here and now. Yes, you read that correctly. Nowhere but right here. It is I, Jesus!
- The Book of Revelation to John is a fascinating biblical work providing a conclusion to the entire Bible. A consummation (I love this theologically freighted word!). Have you ever read Revelation or any section? For Revelation beginners dip your toe into the apocalyptic pond! Try Rev. 1-4 and then skip like good Episcopalians to Rev. 21-22, missing all that scary Baptist stuff in the middle!
- What is the implication for the Johnannine community to experience the on-going presence of the Risen Jesus in their midst?
- What is the direct ramification to your Easter faith that they did? If Jesus spoke a word to Transfiguration or to you today, what would that word be?!!