Saturday, January 26, 2013

Revelation of Christ: Triplets of Power

The Revelation of Jesus Christ paints a dramatic portrait of our Judge, Warrior and King as we will know Him throughout eternity. In contrast to the helpless Babe in the manger (Luke 2:7,12,16), the humble Servant (John 13:5), and the meek, sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29, 36) portrayed in the Gospels, Christ shows Himself in Revelation in triplets of Divine power.

This unveiling of Christ to the apostle John was given by God, sent by His angel, and signified by His angel (Revelation 1:1; 17:1). As John was caught up in the Spirit in a prophetic vision (Revelation 1:10), he faithfully recorded God’s Word, the testimony of Christ Himself, which is the Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10) and everything that he saw (Revelation 1:2). Jesus told John to record His Words regarding the past history of the seven churches, His present observations for these churches, and His prophecies of future events (Revelation 1:19).

John makes it clear that his vision came from Christ Himself, Who is, and was, and is to come, reflecting His present Priesthood, His eternal past, and His eternal future (Revelation 1:4,8). Jesus describes His own everlasting nature as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last (Revelation 1:8,11,17).

John refers to Christ by three of His titles: the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. In other words, Christ is the Prophet, Priest and King. John praises Him for three of His noble deeds: He loved us; He washed us from our sins in his own blood; and He made us kings and priests in His Name (Revelation 1:5-6). His triumphal return will be a monumental event seen by all, realized by those who crucified Him, and causing great dismay to all remaining on earth (Revelation 1:7)

John hears the powerful words of Christ as a great voice, as of a trumpet (Revelation 1:10), and as the sound of many waters (Revelation 1:15). Christ wields three symbols of power and holiness: seven golden candlesticks (Revelation 1:12-13) surrounding Him, representing the seven churches (Revelation 1:16,20); seven stars in His right hand, representing the seven angels of the seven churches (Revelation 1:16,20); and a sharp two-edged sword, representing His Word, proceeding out of His mouth  (Revelation 1:16).

Jesus Christ radiates brilliant light, for He is light (1 John 1:5): His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet like fine brass, as if burned in a furnace; and His face shining like the sun (Revelation 1:14-16). He makes three pronouncements about His power over life and death: in His incarnation He rose from the dead; He lives forever in His resurrected, glorified body; and He has the keys of hell and of death (Revelation 1:18).

Christ is adorned in attire suitable for a Priest, Judge, and Ruler. His full-length robe reflects His holiness, authority and majesty, and His golden girdle circling His chest is like the priest’s ephod, breastplate of a mighty warrior, or royal banner. His snow-white hair, like wool, resembles the wigs worn by magistrates to reflect their wisdom, age, and authority (Revelation 1:13-14).

Unlike any other book in the Bible, Revelation carries a special blessing for those who read it, those who hear it, and those who keep it; meaning for those who carry the promises of this book in their heart, mind and soul to influence their thoughts, words, and behavior (Revelation 1:3). Knowing that Christ will soon come again in judgment, power, and glory, should we not live every moment following His Word, seeking His will, and doing His work?

© 2013 Laurie Collett
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Resurrection: Triplets of Victory

As we have seen earlier, Christ’s birth, earthly ministry, betrayal, and crucifixion can all be described in triplets reflecting His triune nature. This pattern continues through His resurrection and beyond!

Jesus prophesied to His disciples that after He was crucified and buried, He would spend three days in the tomb and rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; Mark 9:31;10:34; Luke 9:22;18:33). Even the Romans had heard of this prophecy, as they warned Pilate about it for fear that the disciples would steal His body to deceive others into thinking Jesus had risen from the dead (Matthew 27:63-64).

Christ’s actual resurrection after three days was foreshadowed by earlier events in Scripture and by His own use of symbolic language. He had said that he could destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days (Matthew 26: 61), which referred metaphorically to His willingly laying down His life and taking it up again three days later.

Jesus spoke of leaving His earthly body and entering His glorified body as being “perfected” on the third day. This was the most significant of the three miracles He told the Pharisees to relay to Herod, whom they said was threatening His life. The other two miracles were casting out devils and curing the sick (Luke 13: 31-32).

Even at the beginning of Genesis, the third day of creation symbolized the resurrection, when God created the earth appearing from beneath the water (Genesis 1 :9-13). Baptism uses this same symbolism of the believer submerged beneath the water to represent burial of the old man and sin nature, and coming up out of the water to represent living as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus explained His coming burial and resurrection by likening it to the prophet Jonah being entombed for three days and three nights in the whale's belly (Jonah 1:17), saying that He also would be for three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. He admonished the Jews, who were always looking for a sign to identify the Messiah, that this sign of His resurrection after three days would be the only one given to them (Matthew 12: 39-40).

When the women came to Christ’s tomb that first Easter morning and were shocked to find it empty, two angels reassured them that He was risen and reminded them of His three prophecies: “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:7)

Luke names three women who told the unbelieving disciples of these remarkable happenings: Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (Luke 24:10). Still bewildered, two disciples set forth to Emmaus to talk things over on a long walk, which was about threescore furlongs from Jerusalem (Luke 24:13).

Jesus appeared to these two and joined them, making three travelers to Emmaus. In their grief and confusion they did not realize Who accompanied them (Luke 24:15-16), even though they said that it was the third day since His death (Luke 24:21). Jesus patiently yet fervently explained to them how all the Scriptures revealed Himself, yet they did not recognize Him until dinner, when He blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to them (Luke 24:30).

Here is how Luke described their triplets of miraculous revelation: Luke 24: 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

So Cleopas and his companion raced back to Jerusalem to tell the others of this Christ-sighting. Yet no sooner did they return and share the news than Jesus appeared in their midst, greeted by triplets of fear, not joy, from the disciples. They were “terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit (Luke 24: 37).

But Jesus reassured them that He was not a ghost by three types of physical evidence: He showed them His hands and feet, He allowed them to handle His flesh and bones, and He even ate before them! (Luke 24: 38-43).

Next Jesus gave them three sources of Scriptural evidence about Himself: the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms (Luke 24:44). But He emphasized the most important prophecy: that He would rise from the dead on the third day (Luke 24:45).

When the disciples went fishing, perhaps to clear their heads, or even thinking they might return to their former way of life now that Jesus was gone, He appeared to them. John tells us that this was the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was risen from the dead (John 21:14). After instructing the disciples where to catch a boat load of fish, He feeds them a delectable breakfast that He had already prepared.

Three times, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, allowing Peter three opportunities to affirm his love and cleanse his conscience of the three times he denied Christ.(Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72; John 13:38). Although Christ asked if Peter loved Him with agape, or self-sacrificing love, Peter stated his love using the term phileo, or kindly affection as one would have toward a brother. In response to Peter’s declarations, three times Jesus asked Peter to “Feed my sheep (lambs).” (John 21: 15-17).

Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus gave His disciples the three commands of the Great Commission: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).

Paul reinforced and expanded on Jesus’s earthly teachings about rising on the third day as he explained the Gospel of grace revealed to Him by Christ; namely eternal life for all who place their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). Praise God that Christ conquered death, that we serve a risen Saviour, and that we live with Him forever more!

© 2013 Laurie Collett
Painting by Arkangel Siete
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