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One of my favourite hymn writers is a retired Welsh pastor – Rev Vernon Higham. He’s the man who wrote that magnificently wonderful hymn: Great is the gospel of our glorious God. At a very low point in his life, he wrote another inspirational song: I saw a new vision of Jesus, A view I’d not seen here before, Beholding in glory so wondrous, With beauty I had to adore.

I want us to take that first line and use it as the theme for this short article—a new vision of Jesus. I reckon that’s what Revelation is all about. What we have here, especially in Revelation 1, is an unblurred, undimmed vision of the glorified Christ. We come face to face with the sparkling majesty of God, we see him exalted and enthroned on high.

Our experience is best summed up in the words of the old gospel song: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in his wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace.

The recipient of the vision is none other than John, that’s in verse 9. He’s the man who wrote the Gospel of eternal life; the man who often leaned on the bosom of Jesus and, who, in later years, wrote three letters on the theme of love. He’s the one who started life as a fisherman and then he heard the call of God; he became a best friend to the Lord Jesus; he watched his ministry develop over the years; he was there on the snow-capped mount of transfiguration, there in the garden of Gethsemane, there at the foot of the cross at Calvary.

This is the man who now receives an awesome vision of the glory of God. John would never be the same again. Here is the man who, on earth, looked into the face of Jesus, and here he sees the lovely face of Jesus in heaven itself. I tell you folks, having sampled heaven, John would be forever spoiled for life on Planet Earth.

Mind you, John had nothing much to lose. It’s clear that he had been banished to Patmos, the Alcatraz of the day. It was like being transported to Siberia for the winter. It was as bad as that! Life was unbelievably tough. An inhospitable place.

And there was John, working in the mines and quarries, breaking rocks as a member of a chain gang. It was arduous. It was deprivation on a big scale. On a human level, this was the last thing he needed! It wasn’t what he deserved, but it’s what he got! His only crimes were those related to his personal faith and trust in Jesus. He tells us he was there because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

How true it is, sometimes it is out of the suffering of God’s people that we have some of the greatest triumphs. At times, when circumstances look their darkest, in moments of such loneliness and despair, it’s then that God has the opportunity to shine the brightest. The God of providence has the uncanny knack of turning the worst of times into the best of times.

For John, the isle of Patmos became the gateway to heaven. The Patmos of persecution became an open door for service. I imagine John probably thought that his life and long fruitful ministry were all behind him but, in the overwhelming goodness of God, his most significant ministry was still before him.

When the bad times come, so many of us cry: Why? Why now? Why this? Why me? Perhaps the question would be better rephrased: why not me? After all is said and done, why should we be exempt from life’s trials? Why should we be immune from the hassles and hurts of daily living?

Look, here’s what kept the old man going, here’s what kept him on track! He had Jesus! He saw Jesus!