Sermons series: The Trinity: God the Son
Connection to unit theme
The offices (roles) of Christ are often described as prophet, priest, and king. But during His earthly ministry, His role of king did not reach its complete fulfillment. We see at the end of Revelation how Christ will one day fully display His kingship.
Eugene Peterson writes:
"A friend showed me a series of pictures he had taken. The subject matter consisted exclusively of household items found in an ordinary kitchen: a matchstick, a pin, the edge of a knife. Household utensils are not ordinarily thought of as possessing much beauty, but all these photographs of very ordinary objects were quite astonishingly beautiful. The beauty was suddenly visible because the photographs had all been made through a magnifying lens. Small, ugly, insignificant items were blown up to great size, and we could see what we had overlooked in our everyday routine. And it turned out that what we had overlooked was careful, planned details that produced exquisite beauty" (A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, 78).
Many in our world today think the same way about Jesus Christ. He is simply a "household utensil." He was a wise and ethical sage, or a meek and mild servant. Many do not take Him seriously. Even Christians can be lulled to sleep by the spirit of this age. We can neglect the power, beauty, and glory of our great God and Savior. Revelation 19 is intended to magnify Christ in our eyes. John means to astonish his readers with the majesty and authority of Jesus. This text can act as smelling salts to awaken us from spiritual drowsiness. We learn three things about Christ in these verses.
I. Jesus Christ is the only righteous judge (vv. 11–12, 15)
The reference to the white horse (v.11) is important. White in Revelation represents not only righteousness and purity, but also authority and vindication. In 6:2 the rider on the "white horse" came riding out conquering. The son of man in 14:14 is seated on a white cloud "with a crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand." At the final judgement we see a "great white throne" (20:11). This rider is righteous and authoritative. In addition his eyes are like flames of fire (v.12). John saw the Judge of all the earth!
This truth about Christ causes us to tremble, because He is the one to whom all must give an account for their deeds. He sees past the facades and masks we effect. Nothing is hidden from His sight. Many think their sinful deeds go unnoticed. But Christ is the righteous judge who sees all. He will make right all the wrongs. He will bring justice to a world full of dishonesty and cruelty. He will make war on the enemies of God and pour his just and fitting wrath upon the nations (v.15).
Application: If you are not a Christian, let me encourage you to tremble at this passage. If you are at odds with Christ, turn to Him as your Savior and Lord.
II: Jesus Christ is the only sovereign ruler (vv.12, 16)
John sees on the head of the rider "many diadems" (v.12) that signify his kingship. Previously John saw a dragon and a beast wearing diadems (12:3; 13:1) representing the devil's false claims of sovereignty. The rider also has a "name that no one knows but himself" (v.12). G. K. Beale writes: "The confidential nature of the name here has nothing to do with concealing a name on the cognitive level but alludes to Christ being absolutely sovereign over humanity's experiential access to his character" (Revelation, 955). We learn this name later in the vision, perhaps as the rider approaches John: "On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords" (v.16).
Jesus is the sovereign ruler over all things. He told his disciples, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matt. 28:18). Paul said, "All things were created through him and for him" (Col. 1:16). The author of Hebrews, referring to the power of Christ wrote, "he upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3). His name is above all other names (Phil. 2:10–11). He alone is King and Lord of all things. No president, government, king, dictator, army, or nation is autonomous. They only have the authority that Christ enables them to possess. Nothing and no one lies outside His sovereign rule. This is our confidence as Christians. He promised to write this name on the one who holds fast until the end (Rev. 3:12).
Application: Are you resting in Christ's rule and authority? Are you trusting that, no matter what comes your way, He is sovereign and holds you in His hand?
III. Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God (vv.13–14)
The other name by which the rider in John's vision is called is "The Word of God" (v.13). In three other places John referenced the Word of God and linked it with the "testimony of Jesus" (1:2, 9; 20:4). John likely had in mind God's revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the "Faithful and True" (v.11) Word of God. He perfectly and completely reveals God. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to display God's love and compassion. Here He rides out to the nations to make war and display God's fury and wrath. In chapter 5 John wrote that he saw the Lion of the tribe of Judah who was also "a Lamb standing as though it had been slain" (5:5–6). Jesus is the Lion who conquered and the Lamb who was slain. He is the perfect revelation of God. He is the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).
Those who know this Word of God are following Him, arrayed in white linen, and riding white horses (v.14). Those who know Him accompany Him as He executes judgment on the nations. The only way to know God is to know Jesus Christ. No one comes to the Father except by Him (Jn. 14:6).
Application: Many say we can get to God through moral effort or religion. Think of how this text completely subverts this idea. Consider how you might communicate that to non-Christians.
At the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy is told that she will not return to Narnia. Through her tears she says to Aslan, "It isn't Narnia, you know. It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you? (C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, 541). Of all that John sees about Heaven and the age to come, nothing compares to the King of Heaven. May we long for the day when we will see Him and be with Him!