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December 1

Reflection

The Easter season seems to be about the adult Jesus at the end of his life, while the Christmas season is about the beginning of his earthly life. Many times, it is tempting to think of Jesus as a baby in a manger. But John the Apostle paints a completely different picture than the baby Jesus one is accustomed to at Christmas.


The apostle John finds himself on an island called Patmos. It was a barren, rocky little island ten miles long by five miles wide, belonging to a group of islands called the Sporades. Its crescent shape makes it a good natural harbour especially because it was the last haven on the voyage from Rome to Ephesus and the first in the reverse direction.


At the time John was on Patmos, Caesar-worship was the one religion that covered the whole Roman Empire, and Christians were persecuted and killed because they refused to conform to its demands. Of the several Roman Caesars of the first century AD, many of them were indifferent to being worshiped. However, Domitian (AD 81–96) was the worst of the emperors of that century. He took the claim of his divinity seriously and demanded that he be worshiped as God. As a result, once a year, everyone in the Roman Empire had to show themselves before the local magistrates, burn a pinch of incense to the godhead of Caesar, and say: ‘Caesar is Lord.’ Those who refused could lose their lives. As a result, around AD 94 John found himself banished to Patmos during the reign of Domitian and lived there until Domitian died in AD 96.


Banishment to a remote island was a common type of punishment at that time, usually for political prisoners. It involved the loss of all property and civil rights. genuine political prisoners were given freedom to move about the island. But John was not a political prisoner, he was the leader of the Christians and therefore considered a criminal. Banishment for John would have involved hard labor in the quarries. According to the archaeologist and New Testament scholar Sir William Ramsay, his banishment would have been ‘preceded by scourging, marked by perpetual fetters, scanty clothing, insufficient food, sleep on the bare ground, a dark prison, work under the lash of the military overseer’. John was aged, battered, and alone. In the midst of his suffering, he gets to see a view of Jesus that he had never seen before - a vision of the ascended and glorified Lord.

Scripture Reading

Revelation 1:12-18

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “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.

Every Christmas as one remembers the birth of Jesus and the infant that was born 2000 years ago, we must constantly remind ourselves that that baby was also the Creator of the universe into which He inserted himself. He was cradled in swaddling clothes and needed to be rocked to sleep. At the same time, He is the Lord before whom one can do nothing else but bow down in worship. The baby elicits our affection and compassion, the Lord elicits our awe and wonder.




Notes

Song: Is He Worthy, Chris Tomlin

Scripture quotations are from the ESV®Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright© 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Picture: Jan Massys, The Apocalypse of St John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos

4 Comments


Patrick Geoghan
Patrick Geoghan
Dec 01, 2023

Anush, In reading your Scripture above, I wanted to have a better understanding of Jesus description in the reading (its origin and meaning). This is what i found - seven stars in His right hand, represented the angels of the 7 churches. John then goes on to describe the pure words of grace and judgement that flowed from the lips of the Saviour as "a sharp two-edged sword that proceeded from His mouth. John had captured a tiny glimpse of the majesty of Christ when the Lord was transfigured on the holy Mount when he saw his face was like the sun shining in full strength.


Thank you for the information, I found it to be and informative.


Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/revelation-1-16


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So grateful for this! And it’s so interesting because this morning before reading this I was getting my son ready for the day (listening to Christmas worship of course) and thinking about the dynamics of Jesus as a baby with His mother. Growing up with a purpose and plan to save the world. What a way to enter this world and fulfill His promise. To fully take on humanity from the beginning and be the perfect example. It leaves me in awe of God‘s creativity.

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Mary Beth Blanton
Mary Beth Blanton
Dec 01, 2023

Thanks so much for putting this together, Anush! We look forward to going through this with the family! He is worthy of all blessing, and honor, and glory - love the song choice! I will be passing this along to others.

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Guest
Nov 30, 2023

Thank you, Anush! What a great way to move into Advent! I appreciate all the work you did on this and I'll pass it on to others! Cindy K

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