John, the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ, is exiled on the island of Patmos “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:9, ESV). It is here the resurrected King Jesus comes to meet with him and shares with him what he records in the book of Revelation. In chapter one, we see a glorious picture of who God is. Then, in chapters two and three, Jesus gives John a message, or letter, to write down for the seven churches. Each of these messages to the churches follow a similar pattern. First, King Jesus describes Himself with something already recorded about Him in chapter one. Second, he speaks a clear message to each church that includes a diagnosis of the current state of the church which leads to calls to obedient action like repentance and faithful endurance. Third, a promise is given to every church that conquers, or obeys faithfully, to the end. And fourth, every church is called to hear and respond appropriately to all the Spirit is saying to the churches. For the next nine weeks we will be walking through these first three chapters of Revelation together in a sermon series called “Revelation: Jesus and the Churches”.
My hopes and prayers for us through this series come out of Jesus’ patterned messages to the seven churches. First, I pray that we would see Jesus clearly. Jesus is graciously revealing Himself to us here in Revelation. I want us to rightly see Him for who He is and all He has done as “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth …who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (Revelation 1:5–6, ESV). Seeing Jesus clearly (and all He has accomplished and will accomplish) is the key to trusting Him with all of our lives.
Second, I pray we will hear all that God has to say to us and respond appropriately to it. As we will see, the church then had plenty of issues. This should encourage us in all of our brokenness. More encouraging is the reality that although the church, the bride of Christ, has never been perfect, Jesus has always been committed to perfecting her. Because Jesus loves His church and died for her, He is committed to her well-being. He speaks clearly to her. As clearly as Jesus spoke to the seven churches in Revelation then, He is still speaking clearly to us today. Jesus had some really hard things to say to some of the churches and some really encouraging things to say to others. I know God will be speaking to us over the next nine weeks. I trust He will expose some things in our lives. I trust He will have some hard things to say to us and some very encouraging things to say to us. My prayer is that we would hear all He has to say and then repent, obey, be encouraged, and find our greatest hope in Christ. Which leads to my final prayer for us through this series.
I pray we would find our great hope in our conquering Savior Christ Jesus. Each church is given a promise of blessing if they conquer. Our only hope of conquering is found in our Savior who has already conquered for us. Jesus reminds us through who He is and all He has accomplished that He is our only hope to conquer. I pray that we will resist the temptation to look to ourselves to do the conquering and we trust and hope daily in the only One who has already won the victory.
I am so hopeful to see all God wants to do in our lives over the next nine weeks. Come on and join us each week. And please invite your friends, family, and neighbors that need to hear the wonderful news about our risen and conquering King Jesus. John writes, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3, ESV). So, read and study up in God’s word. Pray with me that we would see Jesus clearly, hear all He has to say to us, respond appropriately, and find our hope in Christ alone. Come every week with humble ears ready to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7, ESV).