The Ruler and Judge

“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” (Rev. 1:16).

- Revelation 1:9-19

The apostle John was privileged to have many types of face-to-face encounters with Jesus. He saw Jesus in His incarnation, as the transfigured Lord of glory on the mountaintop, and as the risen Messiah. He of all the disciples was identified as the one Jesus loved, and John loved His master with whom he had been through so much. As he stood on the Mount of Olives and watched Jesus ascend to heaven, he may well have wondered when he would behold his Lord’s face in heaven. It is impossible to know whether he held out any hope of seeing Jesus again before the end of his life. And yet, before his death, he would see Christ in a vision of unparalleled majesty and power.

It happened while John was in exile on the island of Patmos. As he tells the story in Revelation, he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,” some sort of deep, spiritual experience during worship. In this situation, he suddenly heard a voice that was like a trumpet. It was behind him, and most likely startled him. The speaker identified Himself as “ ‘the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ ” and told him to write what he was about to see and send it to the seven churches in Asia. At that point John turned—and came face to face with Jesus again. But John never had encountered Jesus like this, for now He was the unveiled King of kings and Lord of lords enthroned at the right hand of God.

John noted that he saw “One like the Son of Man.” “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title for Himself. It harkened back to Daniel 7, where “ ‘One like the Son of Man’ ” was presented before the Ancient of Days in a clear prophecy of Jesus’ coronation following His ascension. However, the description of Jesus in Revelation has more in common with Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days—God Himself.

Finally, Jesus tells John that He has overcome the grave and has the keys of Hades and Death. The meaning is clear: Christ is the Judge, the one who has power to cast into hell or deliver into heaven. He is the one ordained by God to “ ‘judge the world in righteousness’ ” (Acts 17:31).

John’s response to all this is to fall on his face in worship. Indeed, this is the only proper response. He is face to face with the divine Ruler and Judge of all creation and all eternity.

Coram Deo

We have looked at ten encounters with Christ. We have seen people fall on their faces before Him while others walk away unaffected. We cannot gaze on His face—yet—but we can know Him through His Word. Let us seek Him there, always remembering that “ ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ ” (John 20:29b).

Passages for Further Study

Mic. 5:2
Luke 1:33
1 Cor. 15:24–25
2 Tim. 4:1

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.