There’s a picture of Jesus painted on a church sign near my town. His head rises above the rectangular outline as though he stands on tip-toe peering over the top of the sign. He has long, flowing brown hair and a sickly white complexion, like a flower child of the 60’s who hasn’t been in the sun for a decade or two. You can imagine him playing with children or maybe feeding pigeons with crumbs from the five loaves. But this “Sign-Jesus” is not awe-inspiring, not majestic, not glorious.
Contrast “Sign-Jesus” with the vision of Jesus presented in the book of Revelation. King Jesus’ voice is like Niagara Falls at a full roar (1:15). His face shines brighter than the sun (1:13). He speaks, and hearts are pierced and enemies routed (1:14, 19:15). He is both the Lamb who was slain and the Lion of the tribe of Judah (ch. 5), the ruler of the kings on earth (1:5). In his hand are the destinies of every human being, for he holds the keys to death and Hades. And He is the living one who, though once pierced for our transgressions, is now alive and lives forevermore (1:18). This is a Jesus to be reckoned with, a Jesus to be worshipped, a Jesus to be served!
Now let me ask you a question: when you think of Jesus, which image comes to mind? A soft-spoken, timid “Sign-Jesus,” or an all-powerful, glorious, radiant King Jesus?
I’m afraid we often think of Jesus only in his humiliation, the man of sorrows, our humble Savior, without giving attention to his status now as our exalted Lord who sits enthroned at God’s right hand. In Scripture Jesus’ humiliation leads unfailingly to his exaltation. “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death…therefore God has highly exalted him” (Phil. 2:8-9). Let me suggest two reasons why the exalted King Jesus’ rule is good news for us.
Temptation. Have you ever faced a temptation to sin with sense of defeat or hopelessness? “I can’t fight this one – the temptation is too strong, I’m too weak,” etc. Sometimes we live as though all we have in our faith is a system of redemption to apply that helps us battle our inner demons. But we have not a system but a living, powerful Redeemer who is present with us to help us overcome sin. Will there be a battle between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit? Absolutely. But we denigrate the power of the risen Jesus to change his people if we face temptation with defeatism. Our King breaks the power of canceled sin and sets prisoners free.
Evangelism. The world is full of lost people, people convinced God doesn’t exist, or is irrelevant, or is there to accept them as long as they are sincere. How can we change their minds and convince them the gospel is true? Well, we can’t. But thankfully we are not trying to convince people to elect Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We are simply heralds of the King. When we share the gospel of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord himself by the power of the Spirit is speaking through us. We cannot know who he will speak to, or how, or when. But we can be certain of this: King Jesus is mighty to save! When he speaks, he will be heard. And amazingly he uses our stumbling efforts to share the gospel as his royal, life-giving proclamation to dead sinners!
This is the risen King’s word to us his waiting people: “Fear not, I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17). Christian, behold your King!
Photo by Mrs. D. Krebs