This is the post I started to write under the title “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” That’s not the first time this has happened – starting off in one direction and winding up somewhere else. Not complaining, just commenting.
The point I was planning to make in that post, and in this post, too, was that we need to get away from all the inadequate views of the Lord Jesus that are floating around contemporary Christianity, and have been probably have been floating around in different forms since His life and ministry. We need to get away from the “bumper sticker theology – ‘My boss is a Jewish carpenter'” kind of stuff. And a lot of the stuff that gets posted on facebook.
Yes, He was a carpenter, although the word behind that translation simply means, “craftsman.” Yes, He did walk among men and women. As Hebrews 4:15 puts it, we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
He has walked in our shoes.
The thing is, we can never walk in His shoes. We can never even begin to understand what it meant for Him to leave the glories of Heaven, to inhabit a body formed in the womb of His mother by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can never know what it must have been like for He Who gave men and women legs to have to learn how to walk; for the One Who gave them tongues to have to learn how to talk. For Holiness to walk among sinners.
He never complained about it, though He did indicate a few times how it affected Him. For example, in Luke 12:50, He said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with [referring to His coming Crucifixion and all that accompanied it], and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” (NKJV) In Luke 22:15, He said, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” His suffering was about to come to an end, even though the worst of it lay before Him.
So, even though a large portion of professing Christendom still has Him on the Cross, we’re not dealing any more with that One Who hung naked on a Roman cross, to the jeers of His enemies and the tears of His supporters. We’re not dealing with a Christ Who still lies in the tomb or Who never actually existed. That’s what the world thinks.
We’re not dealing with the incarnate Christ Who lived in obscurity, but with the glorified Christ, Who again resides in the heavenly splendor He left when He came to redeem us.
As we wrote in the other post, “the people to whom John wrote needed to know they served a Christ Who was greater than what they were going through. They needed to know that what they were suffering, and were going to suffer, wasn’t just some ‘accident of history.’ They needed to know that when Satan did his worst, he was still a defeated foe and that his wouldn’t be the final word.”
So John describes the Lord Jesus as He is, not as He was.
I started this post a few days ago. It’s been simmering on the stove since then. In the other post, I divided the Revelation as “the revelation of Jesus Christ to the reader, to the churches and to the world.” It occurred to me, though, that not only does “the reader” need to understand Who the Lord Jesus is, so do the churches! Too often, we have more a Christ of sentiment or supposition or Sunday School than of Scripture. That’s why, in chs. 2 and 3, in each letter to a church, there is reference to the vision of ch. 1.
I was going to write about each aspect of that vision in some detail, and still might, but the whole picture tells us what we need to know. It all points to one thing.
In Revelation 1:13, John said he saw One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band, standing in the midst of seven lampstands. This is somewhat reminiscent of the attire of the High Priest in Israel, and, indeed, it’s in that role that the Book of Hebrews presents Him – not only as Prophet, nor even yet as King, but as High Priest, interceding for His people at the right hand of the throne of God.
One of the duties of the High Priest was to make the lamps burn continually, … He shall be in charge of the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD continually, Leviticus 24:3, 5.
So John presents our Lord as examining His churches to see if and how they are “burning”. And He has a lot to say to each one of them.
But “churches” aren’t about buildings or denominations, but about people, the people who are their members. Each believer can find himself or herself in the descriptions of the seven churches. What the Lord said to them, He says to us.