The touch of a king.
One of my favorite moments in all of Scripture remains the scene that opens St. John’s Revelation. If you remember, John — the “disciple Jesus loved” (Jn 21:20) and former pastor at Ephesus — has been exiled to the island of Patmos. There he is met by none other than Jesus himself, whose message to him is, perhaps, one of the most profound in the entire Bible. Certainly one of the most relevant for our current moment.
St. John recalls a day where in the middle of worshiping “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rv 1:10), a voice suddenly booms behind him, beckoning him write. (Rv 1:11) As he turns to see whose voice it was, he is thrust into a magnificent vision full of lampstands and an image of a King with a long robe and golden sash, and a “voice like the sound of cascading waters.” (Rv 1:12–17) This impressive spectacle of creation’s Magistrate is meant to comfort the apostle with an inscription of his authority and sovereignty onto his very heart (and, by extension, ours too). But the comfort of this moment doesn’t come in the vision itself with all its majesty and symbolism. It comes from a touch.
When I sam him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid.” (Rv 1:17)
King Jesus puts his hand on John’s shoulder, as if to say, “Don’t be afraid, I got this. Trust in me. Rest in my sovereignty.” For my own part, this touch serves as the perfect metaphor for the rest of the book. We are never given crystalline detail as to what John means by all his visions and symbols and what not. But the touch of sovereignty extends through the very last words of the book in order to comfort us, not so much with unambiguous premonitions of the future, but with the ceaseless promise that “the Living One,” the One who holds “the keys of death” itself, is sovereignly ruling and reigning over every moment. Heaven’s throne is forever occupied. Such is what Donavon Riley asserts in a splendid article he wrote recently for 1517, entitled, “Who Wants to Be King?”
Kings come and go. Presidents and prime ministers, dictators, and warlords rise up and are struck down. Thrones are built and busted up for kindling. People in every generation claim there’s no god.
When a king dies and his throne is up for grabs, we worry about what will happen next. But, heaven’s throne is always occupied by the One who was raised from death for us. The One who washes His people with His grace and favor, and feeds us His forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation in the Supper. We don’t have to wonder what will happen in troubled times. Jesus Savior is King for us today and forever.
Such is our comfort and confidence. Our foundation. Our hope. The “grace and peace” of the End Times does not come from foresight but from faith. It comes from knowing the One who has ordained and ordered everything according to his purposes. (Ps 31:15) It comes from knowing the true king, King Christ. “Our strength and salvation don’t rely on who sits on an earthly throne,” continues Riley. “Our comfort and hope is seated on his throne. The Lamb of God, Jesus Savior, and King.”
In the distressing days we have already endured and those that, perhaps, still lie ahead of us, we comforted and stilled by the touch of a King who assures us that he will never abdicate his throne.