John had an ocean-front view of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. But when he posted his pictures in a first-century equivalent of a Picassa web album (known to us as the book of Revelation) there were no pictures of spectacular white sand and a sun-drenched beach. He shared a picture of a spectacular Man with white hair and a sun-drenched face.

This first picture in his album is posted in what we call chapter 1. It was a picture of a Word as much as it was a picture of a Sight, for he tells us that the image developed on the photographic paper of his imagination in the darkroom of his dungeon when he heard a Sound behind him and he "turned to see the voice" (v.12). He saw a voice rather than a video. And in the Christian life, hearing often is the real seeing. But the view he saw in the word he heard was breathtaking. Far more breathtaking than a Mediterranean beach. It literally took his breath away and he needed to be resuscitated by the risen Lord - his personal resurrection at the hand of the one who had been dead and was alive forevermore.

And as he attaches his images to the letter he is writing to his beleaguered  fellow believers, he conveys the time-honored message that has appeared on the back of countless postcards from the Mediterranean:

Wish you were here!

John's desire was for his suffering partners in the gospel (v.9) that they could see what he saw. And the wonderful thing about these images in Revelation is that they not only enable us to see what he saw, but also to be where he was. Not that he would have wanted us to be in his dark, dank exile. But still he could say,

Wish you were here!

John describes himself as being in two places at once. He was on the island of Patmos (v.9). But he was also "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day" (v.10). That's where he wished they were - where he wanted them to be on the Lord's Day when they read his letter in their congregation when the mail arrived. "Do you see what I see? Turn and see my voice that is speaking to you in this letter. From here the view is breath-taking."

You do not need a plane to Patmos to be where John was. Right where they were, those confused and frightened Christians to whom he wrote could be where he was. Right there in their tightly bolted houses, in the dark with shutters closed tight to conceal signs of life. Right there under the black cloud of fear that caused them to shiver at the sound of Roman soldiers tramping down the cobbled streets. Right there they could hear a voice saying "Right now - come up here and see what life really looks like."

And when you are in the Spirit, the view is not a place but a person. So John says, "Wish you were here!" Not in a Roman cell. But even if you are in a Roman cell, seated in heavenly places in Christ. In the Spirit. It's the place to be, especially when life is hard.

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