This is a book I’ve been reading slow, and I’m sure I’ll share another post when I’m finished.
Below are a few impactful passages:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ”—keep this description clear in our minds and we will not go astray. The title is “The Lifting of the Cover, The Pulling Back of the Curtain, The Opening Up, The Breaking Through of Jesus Christ!” “Of Jesus Christ.” But of in what sense? The construction John uses can mean of in the sense of by. It can also mean of in the sense of about. Which is it? The breaking through by Jesus Christ? Or the breaking through about Jesus Christ? The answer is Yes! The title of the book is The Revelation of Jesus Christ by Jesus Christ about Jesus Christ. The book is all about Jesus Christ.
Everything John sees and hears is bracketed by this great fact: Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, is coming. Not “will come” but “is coming.” The process is happening at this very moment. Jesus Christ is not sitting on the throne passively anticipating some future date when he gets up and moves toward us. He is moving even now. He is coming.
Saying “amen” is a way of saying that something is utterly trustworthy, a foundation upon which to build. Jesus says he is the Amen. He is the utterly trustworthy foundation of life. His word is valid and binding. As one commentator put it, he is “the one in whom perfect conformity to reality is exemplified.”1 In him we see the real thing. He is life as life was intended to be. Like the “Amen” at the end of a prayer, he is the last word, the solid foundation, the rock of ages.
The Lamb goes to the cross because of us. The Lamb goes to the cross for us. The Lamb goes to the cross instead of us. He who knew no sin became sin for us and took upon himself the punishment sin justly deserves. Look! There he stands—the sacrifice, the substitute, the satisfaction for sin—in the center of the throne! The imagery cries out: “Come! It is safe to come!” The heart of the Almighty, the heart of the Holy One, is the heart of the Lamb who freely gave his life to pardon us, who freely receives any and all who come in repentance. And who freely gives of the seven-fold Spirit of God. Grace, grace greater than all sin, is found at the throne.
As Eugene Peterson helpfully points out, we are not being taught any new truth beyond what we are given in the other sixty-five books of the Bible. We are being taught the truth in a new way, in a way that stays with us, and transforms us.
The Lamb reigns by entering into the hurts of the world and taking them into himself. And so do the Lamb’s followers. We choose to do as he does: walk into the face of evil, declare the truth, intercede for mercy and take whatever comes. Evil is overcome only one way—by the power of sacrificial goodness. Evil is not overcome by more evil. Evil begets more evil. Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Only sacrificial goodness can finally stop evil in its tracks. We do not overcome the evil of history by echoing evil, by playing the game on evil’s terms. We overcome by speaking the truth, by blessing the enemy, by enduring the suffering instead of inflicting the suffering. Evil is only defeated when it is out-matched by sacrificial goodness. Goodness that is willing to go all the way.
We are to declare the truth in the midst of all that is happening. The truth is this: There is a God, a living God. This is God’s world. It works God’s way or it does not work. If we violate God’s will and way, it will turn back on us. But there is a way through all of this. Jesus has made a way. He is the Lamb, slain for our sin. He can lead us back on track. The way back is to run toward God. Yes, run toward the One who has the right to judge, and you find a Lamb ready to receive you. Then to follow him. The way to life is the way of costly obedience, to follow Jesus, come what may.