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I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne. Revelation 5:6

The Apostle John was on the island of Patmos off the coast of present-day Turkey. He longed to be with the churches on the mainland. All the forces of the Roman army were arrayed against the young church and John was a prisoner of conscience, one of the first of countless followers of Christ through the centuries who have been imprisoned for Christ’s sake.

We read that John was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. He couldn’t minister to the churches or even visit them. They badly needed him to minister to them as the Letters to the Seven Churches (Revelation 2 and 3) clearly show. But he was in exile. An angel invited him to “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (Rev. 4:1).

If we had been in John’s position, we would possibly have wanted the vision to give us reassurance that the forces of evil would be soon overcome by God’s might, and that we would soon be freed to go back to the churches and continue our ministry. We would probably have expected to see the victor as the King on His throne. What John saw, in fact though, was a much greater vision even than that.

Indeed, that is whom John saw, but not in that form. He saw a lamb, as if it had been slain. In other words, he saw Christ in all his Calvary meekness, obedience and love (as he had seen him at the crucifixion in Jerusalem many years before.) He had a fresh vision of God’s Suffering Servant who was obedient to death on the Cross and who through that death had already conquered the evil forces of the whole of the universe.

He saw not a simplistic early resolution of his difficulties by his being released from captivity, but a cosmic vision of the final victory of Christ over sin and death which would encompass the whole of creation.

As we face our daily difficulties we usually want them to be resolved swiftly and simplistically so that we can continue with our comfortable, successful Christian lives. But God often has other plans for us. Success, when we live lives of discipleship with Christ, usually means success in terms that the world would not recognize. We have the privilege of being called to share in His sufferings in the ultimate redemption of mankind.

The Apostle Paul put it this way in Philippians 3:10-14:

“I want to know Christ and the power of his Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this; or have already been made perfect but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me.

Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.”

Dear suffering Lamb, Thy bleeding wounds
With cords of love divine
Have drawn our willing hearts to Thee
and linked our life with Thine.” –
E. Denny

John E. Langlois
Guernsey, U.K.

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.