Jesus, whom the book of Revelation gives divine titles, is at work in our world. This work is manifest in three ways according to this passage: he loves us, freed us, and made us. We put ourselves in a place to receive God’s ongoing love and to live out the freedom that we have been given. In addition, we have been made priests, people who offer this love and freedom to the world; we do this in our normal, everyday lives.
This passage speaks of Jesus and his work in the world. We can trust this work because it flows out of who Jesus is. We see what Jesus does as we see who Jesus is. This is what the book of Revelation is all about. As John Stott wrote: “We do not need a detailed forecast of future events which has to be laboriously deciphered, but rather a vision of Jesus Christ, to cheer the faint and encourage the weary. John’s desire is not to satisfy our curiosity about the future but to stimulate our faithfulness in the present.” We don’t study Revelation to be amused but to be transformed and awakened as to who Jesus is and what Jesus does.
This passage highlights three things that Jesus does. He loves us, freed us and made us. Let’s consider each.
First, he loves us. This is a present tense statement, denoting continuous action. His love is ongoing, continuous and permanent. He does not love us in the past and then move on because God is unconditional, permanent and forever loving. Love is what we are made for. We are designed to live in this kind of love, whether we think we need it or deserve it. Being loved is a state of being that Jesus has given us, as we read in Romans 5:5: “…and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us…”.
Second, Jesus freed us. John reminds the early believers, even though many are headed for persecution and martyrdom, they are nonetheless a “free people” in Christ. The tense used here denotes a past, one-time event. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:8: “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” Christ has once and for all freed us from our sins and the power of evil. The work of redemption is finished, and our freedom and deliverance was sealed at Calvary.
Our role is to accept that we have been forgiven and freed. Our hope is situated in the interval of the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet.’ The world is sad and scary at present, but this doesn’t negate the work of Jesus that has already been done. We must remember that things are not what they seem on the surface. God’s power is often clothed in apparent powerlessness. Revelation assures us that victory is not in doubt. Death and destruction do not have the final word and freedom is ours.
The third work is that God has made us. The same Christ who loves us and freed us is also the One who has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father. Christ has made us a community, a realm in which his will is fulfilled through us. This is where the word “priests” comes into play. This is seen in 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession. You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.” God works through each of us, right where we are, in whatever space you occupy. God can and does accomplish his purposes through everyday people. This work is not based in power or position. Our salvation through being loved and freed is not just about what God saves us from but also what Jesus saves us for. We have a purpose as his agents and worshippers.
We have direct access to God as priests (ministers). Because of this we approach God for the sake of the world. We are promised this in Hebrews 4:16: “Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We are more than members of a club or a passive audience at a spiritual event. We are a people of priests who are called to give away the love and freedom of God. This is a profound calling that occurs in daily “real” life. This is where “the magic” happens. He “picks” us to be a part of his team to partner with him to do his work in the world.
Maggie Smith wrote: “… In a world filled with hate and violence and abuse and loneliness, all we can do is help make our tiny corner of it more beautiful. All our tiny corners add up.” To know Jesus is to have hope that God is at work, even, and especially, in the midst of hopelessness. As God’s people, we get to be carriers of this hope to others who lack love and live without freedom. This is our calling.
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