Proclaiming Another Jesus

Jesus remains the “slain Lamb,” and he fulfills the messianic role of the Lion of Judah who redeems his people through his sacrificial death

Lamb - Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash
When certain “
super-apostles” began to undermine his teachings, Paul reminded the church that the “serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness,” and warned against anyone who came “proclaiming another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or a different spirit, or a different gospel.” - [Lamb - Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash].

Disciples must remain watchful. After all, Satan himself can appear as “an angel of light,” so, also, his earthly vassals can cloak themselves with the trappings of apostolic authority.

To the Corinthians and Galatians, he 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, Paul expresses his exasperation at how easily the church has accepted a gospel that deviates from the one 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 CHRIST

Exactly what kind of ‘Christ’ did Paul preach? He was quite explicit in his first letter to the Corinthians – He proclaimed 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 has achieved ultimate victory over sin, death, and Satan in 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 many deceivers within the church have proclaimed a “different gospel” and “another Jesus.”

FALSE GOSPEL

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

A verse from 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 its 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.

Roaring Lion - Photo by Lemuel Butler on Unsplash
[Photo by Lemuel Butler on Unsplash]

And apparently, from now on, Jesus will be taking no prisoners. He has become the sword-wielding warrior determined to mete out justice to his opponents. And these same deceivers do not just mean when the “
Son of Man arrives in glory,” but here and now as they seize control over the “seven mountains of society.”

LION TO LAMB

In his vision, John certainly did hear a voice alluding to the messianic prophecy from 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 49:9-10Numbers 24:9).

But that same voice transformed the militaristic image of the “lion” into the “sacrificial Lamb.” John HEARD, “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” but he SAW a freshly slain “Lamb.” What he saw interpreted what he heard.

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 heavenly 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 the 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 main title.

And 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 break open its seals, NOT the “roaring lion.”

WHEREVER HE GOES

So, what does his example mean for anyone who would “follow the Lamb wherever he goes”?

John saw an innumerable multitude exiting the “Great Tribulation,” men who had been redeemed by the “slain Lamb.” But 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 faithfulness in and through “tribulation” that “he who has an ear overcomes” – (Revelation 7:9-17, 12:11).

In chapter 14, John sees victorious men standing on “Mount Zion” with the Lamb.  They stand with him 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. And it is THIS “son” who is “caught up unto God and to his throne.” He does not “smash” the nations with his “rod.” Instead, he “shepherds” them – (Psalm 2:1-9, Revelation 12:1-5).

The “kings of the earth” conspire to make war against the “Lamb,” but he overcomes them for he is “Lord of lords and King of kings, and so also they that are with him, called and chosen and faithful.”

When the “rider on a white horse” rides across the heavens to “fight” his enemies, his only weapon is the sword that proceeds out of his mouth - the “word of God.” Unexpectedly, his robe is sprinkled with blood already, even BEFORE he engages in “combat” with the “beast” and its allies. Whose blood is it, and how did it get there? - (Revelation 17:14, 19:11-21).

Even after the final victory, Jesus is still identified as 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. The roar of the triumphant “lion” is not heard within its walls - (Revelation 21:22-27).

THE TRUE KING

Thus, from the start, the book anchors its visions in the sacrificial death and bodily resurrection of Jesus. He is the “faithful witness and the firstborn of the dead,” references to his death and resurrection, and he is the “ruler of the kings of the earth” (present tense) 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. 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 he did - (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 many preachers is “another gospel.” They are proclaiming a radically “different messiah,” one incompatible with the crucified Christ described on the pages of the New Testament.

Paul declared that the message of “Christ crucified” is scandalous to Jews and folly to Greeks, and so it remains to this day. Nevertheless, the crucified messiah is “God’s power and wisdom,” and there is no true knowledge of Him, salvation, or genuine spirituality apart from the Cross of Christ.



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