The brilliancy of the setting sun against the crystal clear, glass-like waters appeared to combine both fire and water in one, breathtaking view.
Surrounding me, the ocean breeze played rhythmically with the pink, flowering blossoms of the Tamarisk tree. The familiarity of sand grains rubbing between the soles of my feet and the sandals I wore, barely grazed my recognition.
The scene before my eyes had me transfixed.
The quiet lapping of the shining water beckoned me back decades prior as an eager, know-it-all, 20-something on another beach as a fisherman.
Ah, the smell of sweat mingling with a fresh catch of fish!
Our biggest catch, actually.
But the catch had nothing on the Creator who’d brought the fish to our nets that morning.
My brother, James, and our friend, Peter, had no idea what we were embarking on that day.
We only knew we were utterly captivated by the winsome authority of the seemingly average, but clearly extraordinary, man who commanded even the fish.
Who was this?
Was He worth it?
So we left everything to follow Him.
I pulled my eyes from the shimmering waters and felt my gut clench and my heart ache as I couldn’t help but spot the towering temples dotting the coastline. One each for Artemis, Apollo, and Aphrodite. I felt the bile rise in my throat as I knew that even now, there were many on the island prostrating themselves there. A precious memory quickly appeared and I felt my breath catch as it always did with this particular scene.
It was only Peter, James, and myself with Jesus that day as we scaled the mountain. We arrived at the top, catching our breath and sweating profusely from exertion, curious for Jesus’ purpose in bringing us here, when suddenly everything changed.
Shining white cloud-like brilliance was all we could see emanating from Jesus Himself.
Caught off guard and confused, we watched as suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared.
Moses, the great rescuer of Israel, the champion of our history.
And Elijah, Israel’s great prophet, the one who didn’t die, but was simply carried away into glory. Highly revered, the greatest men in history stood before us with Jesus!
Peter, always impetuous, moved forward saying we should build three tents for each of them, honoring them equally.
But then, the Presence of God Almighty appeared, just as it had in the time of Moses and Elijah, and the same Voice we’d heard at Jesus’ baptism boomed around us. The Voice elevated Jesus above the others, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!”
Who was this?
Was He worth it?
So we fell down and worshipped Him as Lord of all.
Lord of all, I reflected.
“King of the Jews” was the inscription above Jesus’ head as they crucified Him.
Pilate meant it as mockery, writing it in 3 different languages for every onlooker to understand this self-proclaimed “King” was stripped naked and dying a criminal’s death.
Ha, some King.
Yes, Pilate, some extraordinary King.
King of All
The King who gave His life as a ransom for many.
The King who died in the Sinner’s place.
The God who sacrificed Himself for His enemies that we might have relationship with Him.
Oh God, my God!
And I bowed my head and wept for this lavish love poured upon me, so undeserved!
As if the act of God Almighty becoming flesh to live among us and sacrifice Himself for us were not gift enough, He then gave His Spirit to live and move and breath within us, making our own souls His very temple.
Jesus told us countless times that following Him came with a significant price.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate
his own father
yes, and even his own life,
he cannot be My disciple.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)
We are called to a sacrificial life.
A life where everything is placed secondary to Christ.
Is He worth it?
Is it painful and difficult?
The persecution in Ephesus where I led the church was intensifying. I knew it was only a matter of time before Domitian, the Roman ruler 13 years after Nero, would take more extreme measures to get rid of me. So here on Patmos I’ve been exiled.
I scuffed my shoes, making the grainy sands fly towards the water, the shining orb of the sun appearing to be swallowed by the sea.
What can I do for you here, my King?
I’ve lived for You, followed You, been persecuted for You, and now I’m being silenced.
My Word shall never pass away, John.
My Word is trustworthy and true.
In the blink of an eye, the Spirit pressed in upon me, an angel appeared, and a voice filled with thunderous authority, yet still so keenly familiar, surrounded me with its trumpet-like sound declaring, “Write what you see….”
Majesty robed in unspeakable glory, a Warrior surrounded with brilliant light, dazzling as it had that long-ago day on the mountain.
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.
I died, and behold I am alive forevermore,
and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Write therefore the things that you have seen and will see.” (Revelation 1:17-19)
The scenes came quickly now, the words flowed like the roar of many waters from my Lord’s mouth.
The Lord had a letter for seven churches in Asia minor, all of which I was familiar with.
But oh, Church, there is more!
I saw the throne room of our Most High God!
I heard the angels declaring in continuous, renewed awe,
“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come!”
I witnessed worship like I’d never dreamed possible and the beauty of it held me breathless.
I heard a song calling every tongue, every nation, and every tribe to the throne of the Almighty. I heard all creation declare our Jesus worthy.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!
I saw tribulation, I saw persecution, I saw famine, and darkness, and sword,
yet I beheld the Lamb who overcomes!
I saw the saints made clean by His precious blood.
I saw no more hunger, pain, thirst, death, or even sadness for God Himself wiped away every tear.
I saw the prayers of the saints lifting upward to the Almighty and I saw His pleasure over His Bride as we prayed.
I saw the wrath of God poured out on sinful humanity.
I saw the Savior’s atoning blood.
And as He summoned His Bride, the Church,
I heard the voice of a great multitude,
like the roar of many waters,
like the sound of mighty peals of thunder crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns!” (Revelation 19:6)
He is coming again!
His glory is magnificent beyond measure!
All authority belongs to Him.
Church, Your Groom is coming!
Who is this God?
He is the Alpha, the Omega.
The Beginning and the End.
Is He worth it?
Yes, Church, Yes, He alone is worthy!
Give Him your all, brothers and sisters, He Is Coming Soon!
Cross Day 15
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