Friday, July 22, 2011

Attributes of Jesus from Revelation 1 (1 of 4)

The last book of the Bible starts with the words "The revelation of Jesus Christ." This can be read two ways. The first meaning is the revelation is a possession of Jesus. In other words, "Jesus Christ's revelation." It is a revelation He gave to us. I believe this is the first, clear and intended meaning of this phrase. However, I think this phrase can also be understood a different way. Revelation, in addition to being a foretelling of history that Jesus possesses, also reveals more of who Jesus is in His nature and character. In much the same way the gospels tell us both the facts of what happened and the character and heart of Jesus, Revelation shows us both what will happen in the future and more of Jesus heart and character.

Over the last couple months, I have meditated on many of the attributes of Jesus as enumerated in the first chapter of Revelation. Starting with this post, and continuing for three more, I will list them and write a few thoughts on each along with a list of supporting scriptures. In total, I identified 31 different names and descriptions. Depending on how you read the text, one could argue a couple more or less. I don't think the exact count is as relevant as the fact that there are many dimensions to Jesus revealed in this chapter and they are worth meditating on and gazing on the many-faceted beauty of this Man.

All the attributes of Jesus in today's posting are from verse 5 of Revelation 1.

Jesus

First, is His name. It is what would have shown up on a birth certificate had they had them in first century Bethlehem. It is the English version of the common Hebrew name Joshua. There were in fact other Joshuas in Israel's history: Joshua, son of Nun, the leader of Israel after Moses, and Joshua the high priest in the days of the restoration when Israel returned from exile in Babylon. His name, while common, carried a promise, for it means God Saves. It was the name God Himself proscribed for Him through Gabriel's announcement to Mary when she was told she was the one chosen by God to bring forth his Son. He wanted to remind us that every one of us have sinned and need to be saved. And He wanted to tell us that the salvation of humans was the first reason Jesus became a man. It was by the shedding of His blood for us and our acceptance of what He's done on our behalf by which each one of us is reconciled to the Father. No one can have a relationship with God without the salvation Jesus provides. Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31, 2:11, 2:21, 2:30-32; John 1:29, 1:36; Acts 2:38, 4:12, 5:31, 13:23,38,39; Romans 10:9-10; Colossians 1:20-23

Christ

Next is His best known title. It is what would have been beneath His name had he had a business card. It means Anointed. To be anointed is to be set apart, or consecrated, for a particular purpose. It was typically formalized in a ceremony where oil was poured on the initiate. This is seen at Jesus' baptism. The Spirit, commonly symbolized by oil, came and rested on Him and soon afterward He proclaimed God's anointing to be upon Him to preach the gospel, release the captives, recover the blind's sight, set free the oppressed and proclaim the year of God's favor. Priests in the Old Testament were anointed with oil to show their consecration as priests before God. This title shows us how Jesus is the final high priest between God and mankind. This title goes hand in hand with his role as savior. First He saves us, then He brings us into relationship with the Father. Matthew 11:5, 12:18; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:28; Hebrews 3:1-2, 4:14-16

Faithful witness

Jesus was a witness to us of God's character and heart. He revealed God to us. He said "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." Jesus did and said the things the Father told Him. One way "faithful" can be applied: He was faithful in this task. He did not waver from what was before Him. He was faithful in the face of opposition, even to His own detriment, death on the cross. Another way to understand His faithfulness: it's the nature of Jesus. He was the image we could see showing us the invisible Father who we could not see. Jesus is the exact representation of God's nature. The witness He bore was a true revelation of God's character. John 1:14, 12:44-50, 14:8-10; Philippians 2:8; Colossians 1:15; 1st John 5:20; Hebrews 1:3

Firstborn from the dead

Jesus' resurrection from the dead was the fulfillment of the Feast of First Fruits. He is the first of many more to come. Since He was resurrected, we can have confidence that we too will be raised from the dead. Our salvation is not just from our sins to have relationship with God now in this life, but also from the everlasting effects of sin, physical death. 1st Corinthians 15:20-26

Ruler of the kings

He is the King of all kings. Everyone will be subject to Him. He will rule over everything. All authority starts with Him and no authority exists apart from Him. He will rule over everything forever. Every knee, whether demonic, angelic or human will bow before Him and confess that He is Lord. All enemies will be subject to Him, including the last enemy, death. Deuteronomy 10:17; Revelation 17:14, 19:16; Matthew 11:27, 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 1:16-18, 2:10; Daniel 7:13-14; Philippians 2:9-11; 1st Corinthians 15:25-26

That's the first five attributes, all from a single verse. There are more to come from this verse as well as many more from the rest of the chapter. If you have any thoughts, please leave them in the comments below.