John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come…
It is not a song which John heard, but a song which welled up in John's heart. It is not a song which came down from heaven, but a song which ascended to heaven from earth. The very mention of the Saviour's name awakened in his heart the memory of His love. Here is the song of an exile. Here is the song of one who was solitary, without a heart to sympathise with him, or a voice to unite with him in his praises. It was in a loathsome dungeon that Bunyan followed the Pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the heavenly Jerusalem, and so mapped it out that it has imparted gladness to millions from that day to this. It was in the midst of sickness and when the victim of persecution, of which Judge Jeffreys was the appropriate instrument, that Baxter wrote his "Saint's Everlasting Rest," picturing by faith and hope, even from this world of sorrow, the depth of joy that remaineth for the people of God. And so here, this apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, banished to Patmos, "for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus," found Patmos a second Paradise.
I. THE THEME WHICH AWAKENED HIS PRAISES WAS THE LOVE OF JESUS. It was this that even in Patmos made John sing this doxology of praise, and it is the great theme which pervades the whole of this book.
1. The Lord Jesus Himself had an irrepressible eagerness to speak of His love to His disciples. "Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end." "As My Father loved Me, even so have I loved you." "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
2. The revelation of the love of Christ was ever on the lips and ever on the pens of those sacred writers. "We love Him, because He first loved us." The apostle Paul said, "The love of Christ constraineth us." The greatest prayer he offered for man was this, that they might be "rooted and grounded in love," and that they might "be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, and be filled with all the fulness of God."
3. The love of the Lord Jesus, of which the apostle here speaks, was a love that was undeserved. This very apostle had seen what the love of Christ had cost Christ. This very apostle had heard such language as this from the lips of Jesus: "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." He had heard Him say, "Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee." He had heard Him say, "Now is My soul troubled. What shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour." He had stood by the very Cross, and had watched the long hours of agony and of death.
4. It was love which John realised for himself. It was not a sentimental thing with him. He could say, "I speak of that which I know, and testify of that which I have tasted."
II. THE BLESSINGS WHICH THE APOSTLE CELEBRATES IN HIS SONG.
1. "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood." The apostle thought of his past state and his present state. He was a sinner, and he had been cleansed from sin. This separated his song from the songs of the angels in glory. Their song is a song of sympathy with the redeemed; but here is a song for sinners. It is this that makes it suitable for our lips.
2. "He has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father."
(J. J. Brown.)
Parallel VersesKJV: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;