By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails
A number of years ago, there was a knock at the office door, and when I answered it, I was greeted by a lady with a cheery face telling me of a most significant event coming to the community – and I was invited. She then handed me a brochure that was to clue me in on what the event was all about. I thanked her and closed the door.
On the front page, there was a picture of Jesus crowned as King along with some questions asking, basically, is Jesus a man who attempted to die for the sins of all mankind – in weakness and humility, or is He the victorious King soon to return. It was an either/or question implying that Jesus was either a pathetically weak individual, or He is a victorious King soon to return, swiftly conquering all the forces of evil. Then when I flipped the brochure open, it greeted me with the bold statement – He is the coming King. All the while, a sickening feeling came over me – the kind of feeling I get when I hear someone blaspheming God. Yet, whoever wrote the brochure was trying to depict Jesus as good – Jesus as powerful. The author was suggesting that we need to do away with the idea of a weak Jesus who would stoop so low as to die for sins.
It’s a funny thing, but from my earliest youth – before I ever became a born-again Christian – I knew that Jesus came to die for mankind’s sins. I knew in my heart that He is our Redeemer. Then in my early twenties when I accepted Him as my Savior and Lord and made a life-long commitment to serve Him, I remember pondering the overwhelming significance of Jesus dying on the Cross. It was the most significant event in history only to be equaled in any fashion by His resurrection. I remember thinking then, as a new believer, that Jesus’ death on the Cross to atone for sin is so fundamental to the Christian faith that this doctrine and teaching could never possibly be questioned by the church at large. While I knew that a mass deception would sweep the entire world before Jesus returns – when the Antichrist will come to power – but nullifying teaching on the atonement and the Cross did not seem to enter the equation.
But, what is wrong with seeing Jesus as a victorious, powerful king and forgetting that weak moment in time when He was nailed to a Cross? (This is a rhetorical question and not a serious one.) After all, is it not true that in chapters 17 and 19 of Revelation He is referred to as Lord of lords and King of kings? We should look at one of those passages; it concerns a time when the rulers of the Earth will be paying homage to the Beast:
These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:13-14)
Upon reading this, I decided to look up the word “Lamb” found in these verses in Strong’s Concordance, for somehow the word “Lamb” does not fit the idea of a conquering King, being known as an animal that is both meek and lowly. Checking the Concordance, sure enough, the word literally means “lamb” but this derivative more aptly means a lambkin – which according to Webster’s Dictionary means a little lamb. My word pursuit only led me to the ultimate in weakness – a helpless little lamb.
Yet, something very significant about all of this also blazes throughout the pages of both the Old and New Testaments. For it was the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament, without spot or blemish, that foretold as a type and shadow of things to come, the coming of a sinless Redeemer. Isaiah wrote of Him saying, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities . . . and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus, indeed, was the sacrificial Lamb who became the perfect substitute and one true offering for Abraham and Isaac at the altar, for the Israelites at their first Passover in Egypt, for Moses and Aaron and the temple priests and their many offerings; and He is the substitute for “whosoever believeth in Him” (John 3:15 & 16, Acts 10:43, Romans 10:11) – Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the Cross for our sins.
I find it very puzzling how some so-called Bible scholars can spend vast amounts of time dissecting the Scriptures and yet not seem to be able to come up with a single reference to Jesus dying as an atonement for sin. If the Old Testament had taught that we are saved by our own good works, then why were the chosen people of that day instructed to, year after year, offer sacrificial animals for sin? It is because salvation never was and never will be earned (based on works); it is the “gift of God: Not of works” (Ephesians 2:8-9). And a gift necessitates a giver, and that Giver is Jesus Christ, the one perfect Lamb without blemish.
Going back to Revelation 17, where we see Jesus portrayed as both Lamb and King, I ask the question, what would it be like to forget Jesus as the Lamb and portray Him only as King? The answer to this question can be readily found in the New Testament because this is precisely the kind of Messiah the Jews were looking for at that time – who would be a political figure, rather than a personal savior and save the Jews from the oppressive despotic government of the Romans. Time and again, the Jewish masses wanted to make Him King, and the disciples sometimes pondered as to why Jesus did not usurp the power of government held by the Romans.
The fact of the matter is that the Jewish population was not as concerned about personal salvation as they were concerned about the oppression they encountered in the here and now. It is the same today. Increasingly, we are hearing that the era of the personal (single) savior is over, and the term “redeeming cultures” is prevalent. In fact, emergent/progressive leaders indicate that those who seek after personal salvation rather than corporate redemption of cultures are merely “self-centered.” In other words, personal salvation is no longer an issue, nor is it even relevant, they say, but what counts is saving our planet.
But Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus never attempted to operate as a political figure or to redeem cultures as many are attempting to do today. It seems so much nobler and politically correct to save our culture or our world than to “selfishly” seek personal salvation. But personal salvation is specifically what Jesus came for. He knew that we can never have a better world if individual hearts are not changed. Furthermore, Jesus was concerned about our individual souls from the perspective of where we will spend eternity. In fact, as the disciples were admiring the beauty of the temple, Jesus rightfully predicted that it would all be torn down, for He knew the immediate future was bleak for the nation of Israel.
Even Judas was hoping for a political king. He often dipped into the treasury for himself and wondered what political gain he might enjoy by following Jesus. Then when Jesus disappointed his hope for temporal gain, Judas betrayed him.
In view of these facts, it is very disconcerting that people who call themselves Christians today would strip Jesus of His true purpose to be that sacrificial Lamb while crowning him as King. This is what Judas attempted to do. It is also what the Roman soldiers did when they dressed Him in a robe and set a crown of thorns on His head. But, truthfully, what many Christians are doing today is much worse because when we rob Jesus of His title as the sacrificial Lamb, we are making a mockery of Jesus’ death on the Cross and of the deity of the sinless Son of God. If Jesus did not die for the sins of mankind, neither was He the unique and sinless One whom Isaiah refers to as, “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). To rob Jesus of His role as our Redeemer is to rob His place as God who became flesh and dwelt among us – because there would be no more Gospel. Suffice to say, crowning Jesus as King alone while denying His intended and rightful place as our Redeemer is nothing short of blasphemous.
Jesus indeed is risen, and He will come back as King. But remember, for Him to have risen, He had to have died first. The glory of the resurrection is that Jesus is Victor in conquering both sin and death at the Cross. Through that cruel death, He purchased us and has gone to prepare a place for us to spend with Him for all eternity.
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. (Isaiah 44:22)
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
(photo from alamy.com; used with permission)