“I am living forevermore.”
These are words from Jesus. He said them nearly two thousand years ago. Yet the reality they express never changes. This is evident in their very nature: “I am living forevermore.”
These words remain firm in spite of all this world tosses our way. Like an anchor fixed in the deep. And they transcend time and the cities and places on earth shaken by the current public-health crisis. They also provide comfort and stability during this time of uncertainty. After all. Unlike Him, all of us are passing. No one needs to explain the meaning of that while we watch our fellow human beings join a steady line departing from the earth.
“I am living forevermore” – we want to, too
But we want to live, don’t we? We don’t want our lives to be cut short by a virus.
And we also want to live forever. Most of us truly do. When we die, we don’t want that to be the end. Evolutionary science, with its characteristic atheistic component, doesn’t really reflect what is in our hearts, even though we teach it to our children.
Most people at a funeral do not believe it is the end. Or, at least, they don’t want to believe or accept that. At funerals and memorial services, we claim, “Our friend is still with us,” or “They will live forever in our hearts.” But evolutionary science has already established the futility of all that and left us with nothing more than wishful thinking. It seems, there is a great divide between what our heart says in the stillness and what “science” tells us. Many deny this and say it is not so. But an uneasiness exists between science and our own reality.
“I am living forevermore” – a closer look
So let us look at Jesus’ words more closely. “I am living forevermore.”
Jesus’ disciple, John, penned them at the beginning of the book of Revelation (1:17,18).
Decades had passed since John last saw Jesus. Many of us can remember John’s words as he recalls that Sunday morning upon which all of history pivoted when Jesus rose from the grave (John 20).
After Peter and John were told the tomb was empty, they ran to see what happened. John outran Peter. When he got to the tomb, he looked inside but didn’t go in. In Peter’s characteristic manner, when he got there, he walked right in. Then John also entered. Upon entering, he shares with us his response in the third person. “He saw, and he believed” (v.22).
After this, John and the other disciples personally saw Jesus a number of times before He ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem.
“I am living forevermore” – John sees his Lord once again
Now, decades later, John sees Him again. Only, this time, Jesus is glorified (John 7:39; 12:16; Acts 2:33). And John is an old man.
Perhaps he remembered then, what Jesus said in John 21 when, referring to John, He said to Peter, “If I want him to remain till I come, what is that to you? Follow me” (v.22).
Jesus’ coming, in this case, was a reference to Him appearing to John with the Revelation God gave Him to show His servants things to come.
So when John saw Jesus, he fell at His feet as dead (v.17).
John did not see Jesus as just “one of the guys” hanging out in thongs and blue jeans. Jesus prayed those who were given to Him would behold His glory (John 17:24), not His thongs and smoothie. John saw Him as Isaiah did (Isa. 6:1-5). No doubt. Jesus is our Friend. But He is also the sovereign, holy, Almighty Creator God, and Lord of all that is. He is separate from sinners and has passed through the heavens to take a position of authority over all things (Heb. 7:26; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22). There is no one like Him in all the universe.
Is it any wonder?
So, is it any wonder? John fell at His feet as dead.
See Jesus as He is, and you will fall at His feet and worship (cf. Matt. 28:9; John 20:28; Matt. 28:16,17).
At this point in time, John was the only disciple of Jesus who had not been martyred. But here we see him as a dead man.
So Jesus laid His right hand on John, and said, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last” (v.17). “I am” is emphatic: “I myself am the first and the last.” This is to say, He is God (see Isa. 48:12,13; 41:4; 44:6-8; Rev. 22:13,14). It is also to say, there is no person or thing before Him or coming after Him that we need to fear. And He has all the bases between covered.
Religious leaders and resurrections
Jesus goes on. “And [I am] the One who is living” (v.18). How many religious leaders in the history of the world can say that, in the first place, and if the claim is made, can give credible evidence to support it? Unfortunately. They either “speak” from a grave or through unverifiable claims made by others. (You could say they have nothing more to say.)
But John has no problem with what Jesus says. He saw Him for himself after He rose from the grave. And that is precisely why by that time the other eleven disciples had already given their lives. Think about it. They had not laid them down, isolated from one another in different parts of the world over a period of years, for a story they fabricated. Each of them saw Jesus with his own eyes, and walked, talked and ate with Him after He rose from the dead. They gave their lives because of a reality they all experienced and knew was true.
Opening a window to Good Friday
Then Jesus says, “[Though] I am living…I became dead” (v.18).
This is our window to “Good Friday.”
Jesus died on a cross an infinitely shameful and painful death and took the eternal punishment for our sins. Eternal punishment? Yes. Because He is God, an eternal Being in human flesh, He could do that while He hung on the cross.
But, as we all know, that is not the end of the story.
On to Sunday
On to Sunday morning.
We have Jesus’ own testimony. “I became dead and, behold, I am living forevermore.”
There is an empty tomb in Jerusalem. And that means, there is hope in your town, America.
Not only that. But as Jesus says, “I hold the keys of death and Hades [the underworld]” (v.18). He is in charge of the keys. As it says in the book of Hebrews. “That through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14,15) like slaves in chains. My friend, cast off your chains of fear during this time of uncertainty and death. Believe in the One who holds the keys that will unlock your chains. The One who says, “I am living forevermore”: the One who gives eternal life (John 4:13,14; 11:25-27) and is “the life” (John 1:4; 14:6; 17:3; Col. 3:3,4).
By faith, take Jesus’ hand. And say with David, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and staff comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). The Lord Jesus is your Shepherd.
When you take the hand of the One who says, “I am living forevermore,” you know you are holding the hand of Someone who will take you with joy and peace into eternity.
Remember. No matter what. His words, “I am living forevermore,” will forever remain the same.
He is with you now. Take His hand.
And don’t be afraid.
© James Unruh 2020 and beyond