Hovering over the first seventeen verses of Revelation chapter two this morning. Chewing on the first three of seven letters written to the churches in Asia. Casting an eye on the pages I’ve just marked up which reflect the well-known pattern of each letter: truths about Christ; truths about the church He is addressing; an exhortation to have ears to hear; and, a promise for those who would be conquerors through Him. And within the cacophony of color on the page, two words evoking peace stand out. I know.
The One John saw on that Lord’s day on the Isle of Patmos is the One who is “in the midst of the lampstands” (Rev. 1:12-13a). And the lampstands are the churches (1:20). Thus, a reminder that among the body of Christ is the Head. Ever before the Bride of Christ is the Groom. Always in the middle of whatever is happening within the Family, is the One who calls them brother and sister.
And regardless of the character of Christ highlighted in each letter, apart from the conduct of each church addressed, are these two words spoken by Jesus to each church, “I know.”
“I know your works . . . “
“I know your tribulation . . . “
“I know where you dwell . . . ”
(Revelation 2:2a, 9a, 13a ESV)
He knows all that we do — the good, the bad, the ugly. The stuff done in the Spirit, the stuff done in the flesh. The stuff worthy of the manner of our calling, and the stuff not so worthy. He knows.
He knows the full extent of the burdens we bear — the pressure, the affliction, the stress. The stuff we’ve brought on ourselves, the stuff we had no hand in. The stuff we can control, the stuff we can’t. He knows.
He knows exactly where we are situated — our physical address, our cultural moment, the external influences, the pervasive spirit of the age. The pandemic, the polarization, and all the popular practices bent on preventing us from thriving. He knows.
He knows. Not just with a cognitive understanding that comes simply from Him being an All-Knowing One. But through up-close and personal experience. Knowing because He is also the Ever-Present and All-Seeing One. He sees with His eyes. He feels within His being. Intimately aware, able to sympathize with our weakness (Heb. 4:15).
The One who founded the church walks among the church, interacting and inspecting the church. He who has redeemed for Himself lost sheep, abides among the flock, knowing each of His sheep by name. Aware of their walk. Empathetic towards their experience. Ready to provide grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).
And, as I let that sink in, from my earlier reading in John this morning I recall other words spoken by Him.
There too He was in the middle of His disciples. There too He knew, from up close and personal knowledge, the anxiety and stress they were feeling as, with confused uncertainty, they tried to come to grips with His soon departure. And while, as with the seven churches, He would also exhort them, and encourage them, and promise them, something else He said to them echoes within.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
(John 14:27 ESV)
Jesus knows. Our works. Our tribulation. The exact time and space and circumstance of where we live. And while He might commend us for how we’re hanging in there in this moment, or perhaps lovingly rebuke us, call us to repent, and tell us to obediently rely afresh on His enabling, His heart for those who would be conquerors is that they would know His peace. A peace gifted to us. A divine tranquility, beyond earthly understanding, bestowed upon us. Found not in the things of this world, but in Him alone.
Therefore, says the Savior, let not your heart be troubled. For I know.
According to My limitless grace. All for My everlasting glory.