“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Cross & the Crown – (Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 4-6)
The faithful Jesus (v5), in each and all of his offices, prophet, priest and king. He is the office-bearer par excellence. As God’s prophet he witnesses to the truth in the midst of his sufferings, “then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose, I was born and for this purpose, I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). He confesses his kingship before Pilate, “the ruler of kings on earth” (v5). He is the king of death, he cancelled death, he conquered the king of terrors. And he opened the matrix for us because he is the firstborn of the dead (v5). So now he is Lord (Philippians 2:11), he rules throughout the universe, he is the King of all the kings of the earth. Do you see, Jesus Christ here reveals to his people who are suffering in this vale of tears, being persecuted by an ungodly world, that he rules, even over these anti-Christian rulers. “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Psalm 2:1-6). Your King has overcome, peace to you, grace to you, my people. He expresses his love in his priestly function also, he loved us, washed us, in his own blood (1Corinthians 15:3). Setting us free from sin’s guilt, its rule, and the corruption of sin. The fulness of God, the faithful witness, even Jesus.
Consequently, he has fully restored us to be God’s office-bearers (v6). He has restored to us what Adam lost. We share in Christ’s anointing, and thus, our calling is, as prophets unto God, to confess his name, in the midst of all the tribulations we incur in this world. To stand for the truth and confess our God before the ungodly world, in both life and lip. In our priestly function, our lives are completely devoted to him, to his service. Our lives are laid on the altar as a sacrifice of thanks and gratitude to him, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Note please, living sacrifices. As kings, we are to rule over sin, conquer it, subdue it. Afterwards, when this present world is over we will rule with him forever. “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4). Those are the saints in glory, reigning with Christ through the New Testament age. But notice will you, they were beheaded, there are no beheaded Christians in glory reigning with Christ, none. But remember that’s not literal, that’s symbolic. These are they who stood for the truth, who boldly confessed God in Christ, who courageously carried their cross, who made a stand for Christ. They reign with Christ! You don’t carry the cross, you don’t wear the crown. A faithful Jesus but the question is, will be as he is, faithful witnesses unto him in our generation?
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)