I’m teaching a Bible study on the Book of Revelation this summer and am thus reading a variety of resources to prepare. One that I’m enjoying very much is Mike Gorman’s (a fellow United Methodist!) Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation (Cascade, 2011). One of the challenges to reading Revelation well is the abundance of outlandish interpretations that distract us from the central figure and message of the book, namely Jesus and his call to faithful discipleship despite the challenges and hardships that inevitably arise from living such a life in the midst of a fallen and rebelling world. While reflecting on his theological and missional approach to the Apocalypse, Gorman gets to the heart of this issue:
Revelation is not about the antichrist, but about the living Christ. It is not about a rapture out of this world but about faithful discipleship in this world. That is, like every other New Testament book, Revelation is about Jesus Christ – “A Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1) – and about following him in obdience and love. “If anyone asks, ‘Why read the Apocalypse?’, the unhesitating answer must be, ‘To know Christ better.'”
It’s easy to lose sight of the reality that the Revelation is a revelation of Jesus. Any responsible reading of John’s great vision will insist on keeping this fact properly in front of us.