Proclaiming Another Jesus

Is Jesus still the slain Lamb, or has he become the roaring Lion of Judah out to exact payback from his enemies? 

When certain “super-apostles” began to undermine his teachings, Paul reminded the church that the “serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness,” and he went on to warn against anyone who might appear among believers “proclaiming another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or a different spirit, or a different gospel.”

Disciples of Jesus must remain watchful. After all, Satan himself can appear as “an angel of light.” Likewise, his earthly agents that infiltrate the church can cloak themselves with the trappings of apostolic authority.

To the Corinthians and Galatians, Paul points to the same Christ that he first proclaimed as the benchmark against which all others must be measured.

And in his letter to the Galatians, he expresses his exasperation at how easily the church accepted a gospel that deviates from the one that he received from Jesus himself:

  • (Galatians 1:6-8) – “I marvel that you are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another gospel; only there are some that trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any gospel other than that which we preached to you, let him be anathema.

A CRUCIFIED MESSIAH

Exactly what kind of ‘Christ’ does Paul preach? He is quite explicit in his first letter to the Corinthians – He proclaims a CRUCIFIED MESSIAH:

  • For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us who are saved, it is the power of God…For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe. Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a scandal, and to Gentiles, folly. But to them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” – (1 Corinthians 1:18-24).

Integral to his theology is the belief that God achieved victory over sin, death, and Satan by the self-sacrificial death of Jesus. Because of his faithful submission to an unjust death, God resurrected and exalted him to reign over all things.

Unlike Adam, Jesus did NOT attempt to “seize the likeness” of God. Instead, he “poured himself out” and became “obedient unto death,” even death on a Roman cross. Consequently,

  • God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” – (Philippians 2:9-11).

Indeed, Jesus is, present tense, “before all things and the head of the body, the church.” All things were created for him, “whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.”

But he achieved preeminence because he is the “firstborn of the dead” through his death and resurrection. It was ON THE CROSS that he accomplished victory over all hostile “powers and principalities”:

  • And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross, having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made an open display of them, triumphing over them in it. ” – (Colossians 2:13-15).

Thus, from beginning to end, his death and resurrection form the center of Paul’s gospel. And like his opponents, ever since Christ’s resurrection, many deceivers within the church have proclaimed a “different gospel” and “another Jesus.”

FALSE GOSPEL

For example, many voices in the church today are proclaiming a faux gospel of triumphalism rather than the message of the Cross, preferring the “roaring Lion from the Tribe of Judah” over the “slain Lamb.”

A verse in the book of Revelation is cited to validate this “gospel.” But in doing so, its proponents ignore the literary context and theology of the book. One brief phrase is read out of context - “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has conquered to open the book and to open its seven seals” - (Revelation 5:5).

Thus, according to this “gospel,” Jesus as the conquering “lion” rather than the “Lamb” overthrew his enemies, thereby demonstrating his right to open the “sealed scroll” and take sovereignty over the earth.

And apparently, from now on, this “lion” will be taking no prisoners. He has become the sword-wielding warrior determined to mete out justice to his opponents.

LION TO LAMB

In his vision, John does hear a voice alluding to the messianic prophecy in Genesis - “Judah is a lion’s…the scepter will not depart from Judah or a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” - (Genesis 49:9-10, Numbers 24:9).

But that same voice transforms the militaristic image of the “lion” into the “sacrificial Lamb.” John HEARS “lion of the tribe of Judah,” but he SEES a freshly slain “Lamb.” What he sees interprets what he first hears.

Jesus IS the “lion of Judah,” but he fulfills that role as the “slain Lamb.” He conquers in ways contrary to human wisdom and expectations, not by slaying his enemies, but by allowing them to slay him - (Revelation 5:5-6).

This understanding is confirmed in Revelation by the myriad of voices from around the throne that declare the Lamb “worthy” to take the scroll:

  • You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and made them for our God a kingdom and priests, and they reign upon earth” – (Revelation 5:9-12).

Again, it is the “Lamb” who is declared “worthy,” NOT the “lion.” The one passage in chapter 5 is the first and last time Jesus is called “lion” in the book, and from that point forward, “lamb” becomes his primary designation.

In Revelation, he is called ‘Christ’ seven times, ‘Jesus’ fourteen times, but ‘lamb’ twenty-eight times. And it is the “Lamb” who ascends the throne to take the sealed scroll and begins to break open its seals.

So, what does his example mean for the disciple who chooses to “follow the Lamb”?

WHEREVER HE GOES

The “saints” overcome the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” and the “False Prophet” by the “blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony; and because they love not their life unto death.” It is by their faithfulness in “tribulation” that disciples “overcome” – (Revelation 7:9-17, 12:11).

In chapter 14, victorious men are seen standing on “Mount Zion” with the Lamb.  They are with him on the mountain because they follow him “wherever he goes” - (Revelation 14:1-4).

When John sees the “woman clothed with the sun,” she is pregnant and about to give birth. She brings forth the “son” who is destined to “shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron,” alluding to the messianic prophecy from the second Psalm.

But in Revelation, the original Hebrew verb used for “break the nations” is changed to “SHEPHERD the nations,” and this follows the text from the Greek Septuagint version of the Psalm.

This suggests an unexpected and paradoxical fulfillment, a deviation from the popular expectation, and it is THIS “son” who is “caught up unto God and to his throne.” He does not “smash” the nations with his “rod,” but he “shepherds” them – (Psalm 2:1-9, Revelation 12:1-5, 19:11-21).

Even after the final victory and assignment of Satan to the “lake of fire,” Jesus is still called the “Lamb.” In the city of “New Jerusalem,” John sees no temple since “the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb are its temple.” No longer is there illumination provided by the sun and moon - God’s glory illuminates the city and the “Lamb is its lamp.”

Only those whose names are written in his “book of life” enter the city to spend eternity with the “Lamb,” and the triumphant roar of the “lion” is not heard within the city’s walls - (Revelation 21:22-27).

THE TRUE KING

Thus, from the start, the book anchors its visions in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. He is the “faithful witness and the firstborn of the dead,” and the “ruler of the kings of the earth” because of his obedience unto death.

This is the Messiah who “loosed us from our sins by his own blood.” And because of his death, he now possesses the “keys of death and Hades” and reigns over all things – (Revelation 1:4-6, 1:18).

As their all-powerful king, Jesus encourages, corrects, and praises his churches. He calls his followers to “overcome,” not by wielding political power against their neighbors, but by emulating his faithfulness.

And saints reign alongside him on his Father’s Throne - “just as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Believers “overcome” in the same manner as did the “Lamb” - (Revelation 3:21).

Overcoming believers reign as “priests,” not warriors. The call to overcome is a summons to persevere through tribulations while bearing faithful witness. To suffer for the kingdom is what it means to follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.” This is how believers “overcome” the “Dragon” and his minions - (Revelation 1:4-9, 5:9-10).

The worldly triumphalism that is being promoted today by some preachers is “another gospel,” for they are proclaiming a radically “different messiah,” one incompatible with the crucified Christ described on the pages of the New Testament.



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