See the Risen Christ at Work
LHC: Message Twelve (050327AM)
Week 12: See the Risen Christ at Work
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you see the risen Christ at work in your life!
SUNDAY: What Is Jesus Doing Today? I, John, . . . on the island . . . called Patmos . . . was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands: One like the Son of Man; clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and; His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and; His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, . . . which are, and . . . which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars . . . and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” —Revelation 1:9–20, emphasis added In this week’s devotionals, I invite you to see Jesus anew with me—as John did that Lord’s Day when he came face-to-face with the risen and glorified Christ! We, too, can be comforted by knowing that Jesus identified himself as “I am He who lives, and was dead, and . . . am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:18a). Think about it: Jesus is alive! And since He is alive, He is doing the same things now as He did when He was with the disciples physically, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Oh, how John needed that reminder! To best understand what Jesus is doing now, let us look at the only eyewitness account that describes the ascended and glorified Christ of heaven. Over sixty years after Resurrection Sunday, a meeting took place. From God’s flawless record of that Lord’s
Day meeting, we can derive seven perfect descriptions of what Jesus looks like. From those seven descriptions we discover exactly what He was doing then as well as now. Notice that each of these seven glorified descriptions matches a ministry of Christ’s while He was on earth: 1. “like the Son of Man” (v. 13a): This describes Christ’s humanity—so He can truly have compassion upon us. 2. “garment down to the feet, girded. . . with a golden band, hair white as wool and snow” (vv. 13b-14b): This describes Christ’s priesthood—so He can truly forgive us. 3. “eyes like a flame of fire” (v. 14c): This describes Christ’s omniscience—so He can truly see us where we are. 4. “feet like fine brass” (v. 15a): This describes Christ’s omnipotence—so He can truly protect us. 5. “voice as the sound of many waters” (v. 15b): This describes Christ’s omnipresence—so He can truly encourage us. 6. “countenance like the sun shining in its strength” (vv. 16b): This describes Christ’s majesty—so He can truly be worshiped by us. 7. “hand on me” (vv. 17b-20): This describes Christ’s touch—so He can truly help us. What did Jesus do on earth? As we see Christ’s risen and glorified humanity, it is a reminder of what He did on earth (Revelation 1:13a)—“the Son of Man” had compassion for us weak and wandering humans! Anyone felt they could come to Him because He was approachable: the woman with the blood disorder; the leper; the father with the dying daughter; the centurion with the sick servant; the two blind men sitting by the road; the great multitude who were like sheep without a shepherd; and many, many more. Of the twelve times “compassion” is used in the New Testament, it always speaks of Jesus. What is Jesus doing now? He is having compassion upon us in all our needs! For in His humanity, He experienced what it is like to be us (but without sin): In that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18). This same Son of Man who stood “in the midst of the seven lampstands”—which speak of His church—visits us today. When we gather together in His name, He checks our hearts to see if we come to worship Him as our “first love,” or if we have a spiritually cold heart. When we come into His house with clean hearts and prepared to seek Him, this God of all comfort reaches out to encourage His needy children so that we can also comfort others who are in trouble (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). Are you weak? Jesus understands. Are you afraid? Jesus is acquainted with all that you face. Are you alone? Jesus experienced the long loneliness of the Garden of Gethsemane, the wilderness temptation, and those horrific hours of darkness on the cross. He knows what it is like to be alone.
I could go on and on with examples of the risen and glorified Christ’s compassion! But my point is this: Jesus knows how to identify with your humanity, and He wants you to experience the power of His victory—if you will just invite Jesus to be at work in you! My Prayer for You This Week: Father in heaven, I pray that this beautiful, glorious picture that John saw of You, oh Christ, would be burned into our hearts and that we would choose to meet with You, the risen Christ, every day, all through each day, until You come or call for us. I pray that Your Spirit will draw and move and work in our hearts today. May those who don’t know You humbly say, “God be merciful to me, a sinner. Cleanse me! I turn in faith from my sins to you, oh Christ!” For those who do know You, may we realize that You are compassionate, honest, and come to us in our time of need. May this be a wonderfully encouraging study as we meet the risen Christ this week. We love You and worship You! In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
MONDAY: Christ’s Risen and Glorified Priesthood But He . . . has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is . . . able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. —Hebrews 7:24–25, emphasis added As we see Christ’s risen and glorified priesthood, we are reminded that He truly can forgive us (Revelation 1:13b-14b)! What did Jesus do on earth? He forgave sins as pictured in the healing of the leper who knelt before Him saying that, if He wanted to, He could cleanse him. And Jesus, full of compassion, said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed” (see Mark 1:40–45; emphasis added). To the paralytic who was lowered on his bed into that crowded house in Capernaum, Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (see Mark 2:1–5). To the woman caught in adultery, when her accusers left, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (see John 8:1–11). That same Jesus, the Son of Man and Son of God, has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He is not a distant, unknowable, infinite Creator God. No, He is with us always! Because the Jesus who is with us is the risen and glorified Son of Man, He can truly have compassion on us because He knows our frame, “that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). Because He knows our weaknesses so well, His most frequent emotion is compassion. He is literally “moved within.” The Bible says that Jesus was moved both physically and emotionally when He saw people. Do you truly understand the depth of love that Jesus Christ has for us? God himself is moved with compassion for you and me, and He longs for us to realize that He is with us as the Son of Man! What is Jesus doing now? He is still forgiving sins: We have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, [so] let us hold fast
our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:14– 15). As we saw in Hebrews 7:24–25 at the beginning of this devotional, because Jesus has an unchangeable priesthood He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to Him in faith because He always lives to make intercession for us! Do you feel defiled? He alone can forgive and cleanse. Do you feel the fear of future judgment? He can forever take away that penalty you deserve. So trust in Him, and then rejoice in your risen and glorified High Priest!
TUESDAY: Christ’s Risen and Glorified Omniscience When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. —Mark 6:47–48, emphasis added As we see Christ’s risen and glorified omniscience—His infinite understanding and insight with his “eyes like a flame of fire”—it is a reminder that He can truly see us wherever we are (Revelation 1:14c)! What did Jesus do on earth? In His omniscience, He always knew where His disciples were and what they needed. (See also Matthew 14:22–33 and John 6:15–21.) Jesus Christ’s laser-like eyes penetrated through the storms of His disciples’ lives that threatened them with darkness, clouds, and overwhelming difficulties. His eyes saw right into the depths of their souls, and all that they were thinking and feeling. But He did not stop there; He faithfully and lovingly met with them in their times of need. What is Jesus doing now? Jesus is still meeting His children in their storms and weaknesses—when they are feeling “at the end of themselves.” Do you realize that such dark periods can actually be our best times? How is that possible? That is not only when He is the closest, but it is also when we get to experience Him. Although He couldn’t get any closer than He already is, we become more aware of His presence when we are in trouble and struggling. This glorified and risen Christ, with His eyes of fire, knows our every fear, every weakness, and every detail of our lives so that He can truly help us. So we should come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16, emphasis added). A little later in our study of Revelation, we will see Jesus talking to the church in Laodicea, saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Holman Hunt’s famous painting of Jesus rapping against a door is still in the British Art Gallery; it is one of the most beautiful of biblical paintings. His picture portrays only Jesus’ head with Him listening and knocking on the door. The curious thing about that picture is that there is no handle on the outside. Why? Because Jesus wants us to open the door of our hearts and let Him in!
Hebrews 4:16 tells us that He offers mercy and grace in time of need. Sometimes God comes to our rescue without being asked, but He usually waits until we call out to Him for help. Jesus wants to commune with us in our stormy periods so that He can give us His wisdom, strength, and insight. He wants us to understand “the big picture” of His plan for our lives so that we are not just down here operating on our own. His ultimate plan is to work freely in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Through His “eyes like a flame of fire,” Jesus knows your every detail, every fear, and every weakness—and longs to help you. Will you let Him in today?
WEDNESDAY: Christ’s Risen and Glorified Omnipotence No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. —1 Corinthians 10:13, emphasis added As we see Christ’s risen and glorified omnipotence—His infinite power and strength with “feet like fine brass”—it is a reminder that He can truly protect us in every situation (Revelation 1:15a). What did Jesus do on earth? He was always protecting His own by delivering them from danger, and stilling their storms (see Matthew 8:23–27; Mark 4:35–41; Luke 8:22–25). When His disciples were afraid in their “rocking boat,” He came to them walking on the sea. Isn’t that interesting? He showed His strength and power through His feet! When John saw Christ like “the Son of Man,” he saw His High Priestly garment and then His “eyes like a flame of fire.” Those eyes must have been so awesome to him that he had to avert his gaze, so he looked down and saw Christ’s feet—His “feet like fine brass.” That strength and power came to His disciples across the storm, across their problem, and demonstrated Christ’s omnipotence! What is Jesus doing now? He ever lives to intercede for us to protect and help us in every danger we face! He is omnipotently “able to save to the uttermost”! Have you ever really thought about the fact that Jesus Christ, the God of the universe, is praying for you? What an incredible ministry! What Christ did in Bible times, He does now: He prays that our faith will not fail. Christ our refuge has the power to deliver you and me from danger, and to still the storms in our lives. There is no temptation or trial that is beyond His strength and power to conquer. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 the words “overtaken you” are very interesting. They mean that temptation is chasing us until we are in the grave. Our flesh is continually trying to come up behind us and trip us up: But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:14–15 NASB).
When the flesh and the lust keep talking to our will until we say, “All right—just this once I am going to give in,” lust conceives and brings forth sin; for sin is when we yield willfully to the temptation. We will be tempted in proportion to how much we are feeding our lusts. For example, every time we get angry, that lust is fed and will only grow stronger. Whenever we give in to impatience, that, too, feeds the lust, and it will grow as well. Each time we give in to materialism, that lust will all the more tighten its tenacious hold on us. The only way to break free is to quit feeding whatever it is that is dragging us down. If we starve whatever lust plagues us, we will have fewer and fewer temptations, and thus grow stronger in Christ instead. Remember this: temptation itself is not sin—it is merely a reflection of the strength of our lust and how much we have fed it. That is why mature Christians mortify their lusts by constantly saying no, thereby starving and putting to death all of that struggle. To form the habit of mortifying lusts, we must stay alert to the devil’s schemes to entice us. Temptation will always come through one of these three channels of temptation in the spiritual world: (1) Lust of the flesh—fulfilling a legitimate desire (like sexual desires) in an illegitimate way (like fornication); (2) Lust of the eyes—the constant desire for more and more of the finer things of life; and (3) Pride of life—the hunger for applause or the accolades of others—the arrogance of an independent spirit that competes with God for control and glory. God is faithful: the Son of Man feels compassion; the Great High Priest, wearing that priestly robe, is ready to forgive our sins and cleanse us; Christ’s penetrating eyes always know where we are, and exactly what we need; His omnipotent feet like brass will powerfully provide a way for us to escape whatever temptation or trial in which we find ourselves. “A way of escape” is the omniscient One who says, “You don’t have to commit to that sin; you don’t have to yield to that temptation. You don’t have to give in to that trial. You don’t have to feed your lusts because I am here for you to give you all the power you need to resist the devil, and flee from him.” Martin Luther used to say: “When the devil knocks with temptation, I send Jesus to answer the door. And Jesus says: ‘Yes?’ The devil says ‘I’m coming for Martin Luther,’ to which Jesus says, ‘Martin doesn’t live here any more—I do.’ ” My Heart—Christ’s Home, by Robert Boyd Munger, is a book about giving up every room in our lives so that there are no locked doors that we don’t open up to Jesus.1 As you completely yield yourself to Him, you will find hope that whatever you’ve been struggling with can become a sweet memory of triumph! Have you given up every room to Christ yet—or are you still reserving a nook or two for yourself? If you will yield to Jesus, you’ll gain the precious fulfillment of His promise to be with you, to provide a way to experience triumph, and not defeat.
THURSDAY: Christ’s Risen and Glorified Omnipresence “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
—Matthew 28:20, emphasis added As we see Christ’s risen and glorified omnipresence—His presence in all places at all times with a “voice as the sound of many waters”—it is a reminder that He is always speaking to people at their time of greatest need (Revelation 1:15b). His voice can be heard anywhere, for He is everywhere present, and can thus truly encourage us. What did Jesus do on earth? He was always meeting people’s most desperate needs. Consider Mary who went to the empty tomb as sorrow and confusion flooded her mind with all the memories of Jesus. He had loved her, forgiven her, and made her many promises. But now He seemed to be so far away, and all those things seemed distant to Mary. Mary needed to see Jesus. That is why she was last at the cross and first at the tomb. Mary came needing Him, and now she would be the first to see the risen Christ! What strength did Mary need? She needed to believe what she knew. She knew He promised that He would rise again, but she just didn’t believe it. But when she heard the One whom she thought was the gardener call her name, she instantly recognized Him! For Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). Then Mary believed, and had a wonderful time of worship! (See John 20:13–16.) Now let’s look at another person who had a great need—Peter. Peter also longed to hear the voice of the Lord. He, too, needed to hear that risen and glorified voice “as the sound of many waters”! So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And He said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” —John 21:15–17 Peter was grieved because Jesus asked three times. (Everything in threes might have bothered him because he could not forget his thrice betrayal of Jesus—it was such a deep wound!) Jesus knew that Peter needed His special touch that day. If Jesus had only asked him once if he loved Him, Peter might have thought: Did He really mean that everything is all right? If He asked just twice, again Peter might think: He says all is well, but I’m not sure . . . But Peter sensed that Jesus was tracking with him: “Peter, I knew that you denied Me three times, so I want you to tell Me you love Me three times so that you will have peace that this thing is all taken care of— and that you will now be that one to strengthen the brethren.” Oh, how the grieving Peter needed to hear that reassurance of Christ’s love and forgiveness, and that he was not being set aside in his ministry! What is Jesus doing now? Jesus, with His omnipresent voice “as the sound of many waters,” always comes to those who need Him. No matter where you are in life,
Jesus says to you, “I am with you always! I am there; and you will hear My voice as I speak to you!” He will never leave your side so that He can encourage and help you at any place and at any time. All you have to do is to invite Him to come to your rescue!
FRIDAY: Christ’s Risen and Glorified Majesty [When Jesus calmed the sea] those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” —Matthew 14:33, emphasis added As we see Christ’s risen and glorified majesty—with His “countenance like the sun shining in its strength”—it is a reminder that He desires our reverence and worship (Revelation 1:16b-17a). What did Jesus do on earth? He was always inviting the worship of those who loved Him. He performed miracles (that which only God can do) to cause those who witnessed them to be overwhelmed with wonder. Christ is glorious in His majesty and power, and He reminds us of that truth so we can truly worship Him. Christ’s majesty produces a sense of awe: [Jesus] went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled (Mark 6:51). When Simon Peter saw the abundance of fish, where there had been none before, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). From this, we can see that Christ’s majesty brings conviction. On the Isle of Patmos, after only one look at Jesus, John simply crumbled in awe and wonder-filled worship at His feet (Revelation 1:17a)! Christ’s majesty commands worship. When Jesus performed miracles such as healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, or restoring eyesight, people responded in wonder and worshiped Him. The majestic Son of Man and Son of God is always waiting for His children to lavish their love upon Him and worship Him! (See Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:52; and Philippians 3:3.) What is Jesus doing now? He continues to remind us of His glory so that we will be inspired to worship Him with all our heart, strength, mind, and soul! Jesus wants us, like the psalmist, to spontaneously and joyously exclaim: Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing . . . psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! (Psalm 105:1–3). Are you honoring the risen and glorious Jesus in all His majesty and power? Why not pause to worship Him in adoration as you quietly sing the majestic words of this song to Him! Crown Him with Many Crowns Crown Him with many crowns, The Lamb upon His throne; Hark! How the heav’nly anthem drowns All music but its own:
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee, And hail Him as thy matchless King Thro’ all eternity. —Matthew Bridges (1800–1894)
SATURDAY: Christ’s Risen and Glorified Touch When Jesus departed . . . two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” . . . Then He touched their eyes, . . . And their eyes were opened. —Matthew 9:27, 29–30a, emphasis added As we see Christ’s risen and glorified touch, it is a reminder that He holds His church and guards its message and its messengers (Revelation 1:16a; 17b-20). He is always there to provide help in the time of need—as He did with the two blind men who needed His healing touch! What did Jesus do on earth? He was always touching those He loves at their point of need: Jesus touched Peter when he was sinking on the sea and cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30); He touched the leper by cleansing him at his direst moment of decay (Luke 5:12); He touched Thomas when he was filled with doubt (John 20:28); and He touched John when he was overwhelmed with fear (Revelation 1:17–18). That was 2,000 years ago, which seems so long ago and so far away. But we need not live so distant from the quietness of that garden on Resurrection morning, because the truth of the Resurrection is that Jesus is alive! And since He is alive, He is doing the same things as He did then. Did you catch that? Jesus wants us to know that He is still doing just what He did that morning, and in the days that followed. So much of His ministry involved assuring the disciples of what they already knew, and encouraging them to do what He left them here to do. Have you met again the risen Christ? What is Jesus doing now? Jesus wants us to see Him, to believe Him, and then respond to His work in us through His Word. Are you willing to see Jesus anew? You can experience all that He wants to do in your life if you will invite Him to be at work in you. He is always there to touch you, lift you, encourage you, restore you, and remind you that all that He promised is true. Jesus, who was always inviting worship from those who loved Him back then, who was inviting it on the Isle of Patmos around sixty years after His Resurrection, is still waiting for us to crumble in reverent worship before Him. As Jesus left the earth, the last thing His beloved disciples saw was His exit as He went up out of sight with outstretched hands lifted up in blessing. In that gesture, He was trying to convey this message: “I just want to pour out My blessing on you! I want to give you everything you need, and that is the last thing I want you to think about when you remember Me going back to My Father!” What was their response? They worshiped Him and then went back to Jerusalem (see Luke 24:50–52)! They didn’t go to some distant place; they went home. That is what worship does; it doesn’t take us off to mountaintops where we live an unreal life, like in a monastery somewhere. No, we go back into our real world with great joy. Luke
24:53 says that they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. That is what worship does: “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10b). We have it all mixed up in the twenty-first century; we serve God and hope we get around to worship; however, most of the time we don’t. But Jesus said, “Worship Me before you do that ministry. Then, as you serve, you will be full of joy and thanksgiving!” Jesus is waiting for you and me to lavish our loving worship on Him! As a father, I love to give my children what they want. I ask them, “What can I do for you? How can I help you? What would you like?” I also love to do things that please my wife, Bonnie! If I, a frail, sinful, fallen human, long to do these things for those I love—how much more will our heavenly Father give us good gifts? (See Matthew 7:7– 11.) Make a choice to live in hope: Have you met the risen Christ? Do you see Him as the compassionate “Son of Man”? Do you understand that He is the High Priest who forgives, cleanses, and doesn’t condemn you? Do you recognize Him as the One with penetrating “eyes like a flame of fire” Who always sees you, and omnisciently knows everything about you? Do you see those “feet like fine brass” as He omnipotently comes in power to meet you in your storms? Do you hear His omnipresent “voice as the sound of many waters” that is always able to talk to you in any situation? Do you see His “countenance like the sun shining in its strength” that is so full of majesty that you crumble before Him in worship? Can you say, like John, “I feel the gentle touch of His ‘hand on me’ ”? The risen and glorified Christ wants to be all that to you. So He is telling you, this very day, “Just like I was in Bible times, I still am today. And I want to always be with you!” I hope that you will invite Jesus Christ into every part of your life and say, “Risen Christ, see me; come to me! I bow before You; touch me! I need You!” I encourage you to then make this beautiful song by John Newton the prayer of your heart: How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds How sweet the name of Jesus sounds In a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away His fear, And drives away his fear. It makes the wounded spirit whole, And calms the troubled breast; ‘Tis manna to the hungry soul, And to the weary, rest, And to the weary, rest. Dear name—the rock on which I build. My shield and hiding place; My never-failing treasure, filled With boundless stores of grace, With boundless stores of grace. Jesus, my shepherd, brother, friend, My prophet, priest, and King.
My Lord, my life, my way, my end, Accept the praise I bring, Accept the praise I bring. —John Newton (1725–1807) 1 Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986.