Introduction and Salutation
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants[a] what must soon take place; he made[b] it known by sending his angel to his servant[c]John, 2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
When I first began serving St. John’s, one of my first tasks was learning my way around the hospitals. I quickly learned the most important thing about Memorial Hospital—the orange sign. Unless you are an employee, a volunteer, or a very frequent visitor, it’s easy to get turned around when you’re ready to leave a patient’s room as you may have gone down twisty halls and corridors. However, no matter where you are in Memorial, you can always find your way in or out, up or down, by looking for the orange sign. “Main Elevator,” it declares, with an arrow pointing the way.
Sometimes I’d like such a sign pointing to hard to understand Bible passages. It wouldn’t have to be orange, but would just have to say “Main Point” with an arrow showing the most important idea in the passage.
The book of Revelation could use several such signs. For generations people have interpreted Revelation to predict all kinds of things: the date on which the world will end, exactly how many people will be saved, who will be the enemy, and so on. And, certainly, it can be a difficult book to understand, with visions of armies, dragons, white horses, and such.
But these first few verses of Revelation serve as a sign—“Main Point”—declaring that Jesus Christ is the one “who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood” (1:5.) This main point runs through the entire book of Revelation as the writer describes his vision. It is a vision of believers struggling through terrible trials and tribulation, destruction and battles—but in the end, Christ is victorious. The message to believers is to keep faith and trust and hope in Jesus.