Revelation 1:5-6 “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.”
I want you to notice something about the word “love” right away. It is in the present tense. John says, “To him who loves us,” as in “right now.” He does not say, “To him who loved us,” as in “thousands of years ago when he was still alive.” Jesus is not merely a great hero from the past we study as a part of history. Jesus is just as alive as your living friends and family members today, only he loves you more. Even though we have never seen him with our eyes, he is someone we know and love personally, only he loves us more. Jesus rose from the dead, body and soul. He is very much alive and well at this very moment, loving you more than anyone else ever has or can.
You knew this already, at least you knew it in your head. But we need to take a little closer look. I think you know why. When the Apostle John first wrote these words over 1900 years ago, he was writing to people who might have wondered whether they were really true. The Church was going through terrible times. The Roman Empire was rounding up Christian leaders in some parts of the empire and executing them. John himself had been exiled to the island of Patmos.
Under such conditions it would have been easy for Christians to wonder whether Jesus was genuinely alive and in control. If he was, did he really love them anymore? They needed to hear that Jesus’ love wasn’t a past phenomenon. They needed to hear, “Jesus loves you right now.”
What about you? Each of us could come up with evidence contradicting his love without too much thought. I once received a phone call from a man who asked me, “Where can I find a gracious God?” “Jesus shows us God is gracious,” I told him. “But where can I find him”? he questioned. He was convinced God did not love him. God’s promises must apply only to other people who had happier lives. In a single year his wife had left him and taken the children. He lost his home and his job, and he was left with nothing. It was hard to believe Jesus loved him anymore.
This is why your pastors come calling when you are in the hospital or there has been a death in the family. We need to hear that Jesus loves us right now when he has decided to take a child from us in death, or a husband, wife, friend, or family member we always leaned on. Jesus still loves you, right now, even when the doctor tells you that the pain isn’t going to go away. It’s likely to get worse. Your chances of survival are less than 50 percent.
How about after you or I have committed the “Big One”? Or how about the stream of ordinary sins we churn out like a factory running at full capacity? Our assembly line steadily turns them out, each one an unimaginative copy of the other. Once again this week I deserved to go hell. Most of the sin looks a lot like last week’s. Shouldn’t God get tired of it? Don’t we make ourselves impossible to love?
But there is one thing steadier than my sin. That is Jesus’ love for me. More than anything else it is that love– the same love with which he loved me yesterday, the same love with which he loves me today, and the same love with which he will love me when I have passed from time into eternity– it is that love which invaded my heart and conquered it for his kingdom. We give Jesus glory because he loves us, today and always.