“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2)
“I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,… and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band… And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Rev 1: 12, 13, 17, 18)
John, the author of the Book of Revelation, was the “disciple that Jesus loved.” He was the one who rested his head on the chest of Jesus at the last supper; he walked with Him for three years; he saw Him on the cross, he saw Him after the resurrection, he saw Him ascend to Heaven and he even saw Him transfigured on the mountain. What John saw on those occasions was the Son of Man in a form that his eyes could behold and his brain could – at least to a degree at the transfiguration – comprehend. And then John saw Him again, on the Isle of Patmos. He saw the same Jesus, but with His glory undimmed, and he fell at His feet “as one dead.” Whether or not he recognised the Jesus that he had seen on the Earth is not clear, but what is clear is that he responds to Him on an entirely different level.
I think it’s clear that John saw the glorified Jesus “as He is” while he was in the Spirit on Patmos. When Jesus went from Earth to Heaven he went in his earthly form; but when He comes from Heaven to Earth we can expect Him to be much as He appeared to John on Patmos: “One like the Son of Man.” John’s vision gives us an image of the Risen Lord in His heavenly glory, and his epistle tells us that when He returns we will be like Him too. So we read these verses, and look forward in our minds to the time in the future when they are fulfilled. Maybe we dwell for a few moments on the thought that one day ‘we will be like Jesus,’ then move on in our devotions or whatever we are doing. But do we ever think of ourselves as being like Him now?
Yet we, His brothers and sisters, are seated with Him in heavenly places. What are we wearing as spiritual beings in the courts of Heaven? Jeans and jumpers? Or maybe we too have shining robes and sashes of gold round our chests. Do we have bad hair and tired eyes? Or do we too have hair as white as wool and eyes as flames of fire? John says clearly that “we will be like Him” when Jesus returns, and Paul uses similar language when he looks forward to that long-awaited time: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” (Romans 8:19) What seems inescapable to me is that what we will be on Earth then – when “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality-” (1 Cor 15:53) is what our immortal spirits are in heavenly places now. Like actors on a stage waiting for the curtain to be pulled back, the children of God – you and I – who will be “revealed” when Jesus returns are already seated in heavenly places today, waiting for the time to come when we will reign with Him on Earth. (Rev 5:10)
If we are praying in the Spirit, worshipping in the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit, we need to see ourselves in the Spirit as well. We talk and teach about knowing “who we are in Christ,” and being clothed in “robes of righteousness,” so when we see our spirit selves in the heavenly mirror of the Word of God, what is the image that we behold? Our spiritual DNA is the same as the Christ who revealed Himself to John. He is our brother. We have the same Father. Is it too fanciful to believe that in Heavenly places, where our immortal spirits, “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb 12:23) by His blood, are seated with Him, serving as kings and priests to our God (Rev 1:6) we may have similar eyes as well?
We have His name. We have His Spirit. We have His word. It’s time we looked at Jesus as He is now and recognised ourselves in Him, because I think that many of us would fall on our faces, just as John did before our older brother, if we saw with the eyes of the flesh who we really are in the Spirit. But once we had told ourselves not to be afraid because we too were dead – we died with Christ – and now we are alive for evermore, we would be much less troubled by the temptations and trials of this passing mortal realm, and our faith would be on another level.
Put on your strength, O Zion;
Put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city! (Isaiah 52:1)