Saturday, 9 April 2016

"Words y-clad with wisdom's mastery"

Every writer knows that a well-chosen brief phrase can articulate a world of action, a wealth of wisdom and a deep well of emotion that far exceeds the few words used to express it.

“Reader, I married him.”

"Et tu, Brute?"

“Afraid of him? O, never, never! And yet – and yet – O, Mole, I am afraid!”

“And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.”

“But trailing clouds of glory do we come.”

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

"No worst, there is none.”

“And He placed His right hand on me, and said...”

Do you recognise that last one? It’s taken from the Revelation of John, chapter 1. To me that little phrase speaks more volumes than almost any of the lengthier Bible passages that tell of the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Let me paint the picture. John has been Jesus’ closest earthly friend. He is the one who sat with his head on Jesus’ bosom. He calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He’s the one who stayed close enough and alert for long enough to be able to record the substance of Jesus’ high priestly prayer. He’s the one to whom Jesus entrusts the care of His widowed mother at the foot of the cross.

And yet, when he meets the risen, ascended Lord in all His glory, far from rushing into His familiar arms, he is completely overwhelmed by the sight. Here is his description of how Jesus looked:

“He was dressed in a long robe with a golden girdle around his breast; his head and his hair were white as snow-white wool, his eyes blazed like fire, and his feet shone as the finest bronze glows in the furnace. His voice had the sound of a great waterfall, and I saw that in his right hand he held seven stars. A sharp two-edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face was ablaze like the sun at its height.” (Revelation 1. 13-16, J B Phillips New Testament)

So spellbound is John by the glory of his dear Friend, now so transformed, that he tells us, “I fell at his feet like a dead man.” And that’s when he inserts this little phrase, “And He placed His right hand on me and said...”

The picture here is of a towering Christ, radiant in splendour, the undoubted victor over death and sovereign of the universe, and John, so stunned by His magnificence that he collapses face down in the dust like a corpse. He lies there paralysed, and the next thing he knows, the risen, ascended Lord of the universe has placed a hand on him.

The only way the lofty, glorious Jesus could have laid His right hand on John and spoken to him is by stooping down beside him where he lay, face down in the dirt. Maybe this is obvious to most readers, but the first time I noticed it I was in the middle of a distressing and messy divorce that I had fought long and hard to avoid. The revelation that Jesus, in all His power and glory, gets right down into the dirt and disarray of my life was an immense relief and comfort to me.

When we think of Jesus as our intimate friend or our shepherd or our brother, perhaps we expect Him to show us love. But when we see Him as the triumphant Creator and Sovereign of the whole universe, the idea that He would step down from His throne to involve Himself in the minutiae of our lives, however grubby and shameful it may all seem to us, shows the true immensity and wonder of His grace.

I pray that as we write to communicate Him to the world - whether overtly in devotional writing or subtly in the ethos and worldview of the stories we write - His Spirit will inspire us to choose the pithy phrases that bring to our readers not just the beauty and economy of our wonderful language, but also a revelation of the beauty of Christ and His overwhelming love.

Ros Bayes has 8 published and 4 self-published books, as well as some 3 dozen magazine articles. She is the mother of 3 daughters, one of whom has multiple complex disabilities, and she currently works for Through the Roof ( as their Training Resources Developer, and loves getting paid to write about disability all day. You can find her blog at and her author page at Follow her on Twitter: @rosbwriting.  


  1. I always wondered how there was a record of that prayer, when they wee all asleep! Thanks for a lovely inspiring post. Sue

  2. I scrolled down, reading, nodding in silent agreement and admiration, and then I saw who had written this post, and I said, 'Of course!' Thank you for these thoughts.

  3. Dear Ros, these are beautiful words and you have captured the gracious love of Christ so exactly. And you are right about words - so awesomely powerful, not surprising they were used to create the universe.

  4. And how lovely of God to use the things that we write to bless one another. So glad if He has used this to speak to you.

  5. Yes, I read that passage this morning in Common Worship Daily Prayer! Very helpful reminder, thank you.

  6. What a wonderfully inspiring post Ros. Had a little worship moment in my study....

  7. Thank you for reminding me about God's getting-down with me into the messiness of my life :) Great post.

  8. Lovely post, Ros. I love the idea of Jesus stooping down to touch us - I'd never thought of it like that before, even though I must have read this passage dozens of times.