John wrote: “When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow.”Revelation 1:12-14
In order to understand these amazing verses, we need to appreciate that the Church at the time was very small and facing the brutal and powerful opposition of the Roman Empire.
This must have been incredibly scary. It looked as if the Church would be crushed, and so it was vital for them to understand exactly who Jesus was, and the reasons why they could be confident in him. This whole book communicated the message that Jesus has won the final victory and so, even though there might be tough times ahead, they could be confident in him.
The picture of Jesus that John gives us here sounds very strange to our modern ears. But what he was doing was bringing together lots of language from the Old Testament which showed that Jesus, the Son of Man, was nothing less than God himself. He wore a long robe like a priest, although no priest was important enough to wear a gold sash. And he had hair that was as white as wool, which reminds us of the picture of the Ancient of Days, God himself, as described in Daniel 7:9.
The seven gold lampstands stood for the churches to which John was writing. He wanted them to know that right in the middle of them stood Jesus himself. They might feel scared and even overwhelmed at times, but they were not alone. Jesus was always with them, and always would be.
Our circumstances are different from the 1st Century, but we still need to hear the same message. As we face the particular challenges and threats of our day, we need to remind ourselves constantly that we are not alone. Christ stands with us.
You might well not want to describe Jesus as looking like someone with a long robe, gold sash and white hair. How would you describe him?
Lord Jesus, thank you that you stand in the midst of your church. Thank you that you promise never to leave us. Amen