Apocalypse. Imagine you go to the library—yes, they still exist people—you pick up a book with no cover design or title. Interested, you open the book and read the first word, “Apocalypse.” What would you think you were reading? To be sure most would anticipate a story about doomsday, terror, the end of the world, and, of course, zombies. But that’s not what the Apostle John had in mind when he wrote the first word in the book we know as The Revelation of Jesus Christ. For John and the churches he pastored, the word “apocalypse” meant something very different. It meant “unveiling” or “opening up”.
Imagine you are in an old house with large windows covered by thick velvety curtains. Though it’s midday on a sunny October day, the room is virtual darkness except for a gentle silhouette of light escaping from the edge of each curtain. You shuffle over to the window, being careful not to run into the hidden obstacles strewn throughout the room, you grab hold of the thick material and throw the curtain open wide. In a startling moment, the room is instantly filled with light! Now you can see what you couldn’t before: the grand piano, the exquisite furniture, the antique clock. You can even see the fine particles of dust dancing in the air as the sunlight beams through the window. That is apocalypse. An unveiling. An opening up. A pulling back of the curtain to see what is really there. The Book of Revelation is all about pulling back the curtain to see the Jesus that is really there.
It turns out everyone needs an apocalypse, pastors especially so. What vision of Jesus are you carrying into this season of ministry? Where is Jesus pulling back the curtain to show you things about himself that have gone unnoticed or forgotten? And how are you pulling back that same curtain for your people to see the Jesus behind it?
The book of Revelation is constantly pulling back the curtain to give a fresh vision of Jesus because an image is more powerful than information. An image sticks with us, it changes us from the inside out. At the end of the Book, the culmination of the grand story of Scripture, we are given a vision of Jesus. Jesus commands our sight and says, “Look!…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
Jesus pulls back the curtain on human history to show that he is the beginning and the end. The word for “beginning” is arche. It can mean first in a sequence, but more significantly it means the prototype of everything else that follows. Jesus is saying that he is the prototype! He points to himself and says, “I am the mould from which everything else takes its shape!” Everything has its beginning in Jesus and takes shape from Jesus.
But Jesus is also the end. The Greek word is telos. My mentor in preaching Darrell Johnson explains that telos refers to the inherent destiny of a thing. So, the telos of an acorn is an oak tree; the inherent destiny of an acorn is to become an oak tree. Jesus says, “I am the telos!” He points to himself and says, “I am the inherent destiny of Everything! Everything is being called to find its destiny in me!”
Will you allow Jesus to pull back the curtain of this truth in your life and ministry? Jesus is your arche and your telos. He is your beginning and your end. And he holds together everything in between. Jesus is the one from whom you’ve been made and the one for whom you’ve been made. In him, your whole being holds together. In him, your whole ministry holds together. In him, your whole church and city holds together. What good news! You don’t need to hold it all together! You simply need an apocalypse of Jesus Christ.