John, the author of Revelation, begins with greetings from the Eternal One and the seven spirits, and from “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” God’s universal sovereignty is now exercised through the risen Christ. He will return, John says, and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.”
Throughout the history of Christendom, Christian kings have prayed to the King of kings to help them defeat other Christian kings. American Christians have not been immune to this thinking. But John does not say that the God of one mighty nation will help it rule over others. No. The King of kings is the one who was pierced, and all the peoples who seek to conquer one another will be dismayed by him.
In John’s drama, every earthly ruler is responsible for Jesus’ piercing. But it is the slaughtered Lamb that receives power. The kings, the wealthy, and the mighty still oppose him, but in the end their Babylon, enriched by trading in luxury goods and in human lives, comes to nothing. It is the One, and all the ones, victimized by those in power and authority whom God will vindicate (see Revelation 5:6-12; 6:15-16; 18:1-24).
Where do you picture yourself between the mighty and the slaughtered? Perhaps, like me, you are somewhere in the middle. But I wonder whether I am so innocent. The home where I’ve lived since 1981 is in a neighborhood developed in the 1950s for whites only. Only now is it slowly integrating. Who assembled the computer I’m writing on? Were they fairly paid? Are their lives secure? The middle is no safe place to be when the Lamb upends the mighty.
Slaughtered Lamb, have mercy. Give me courage to share in your reign of justice, humility, and compassion. Amen.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are unable to remain silent. They go to the Temple to proclaim the gospel. Some people receive the message, while others do not. This causes turmoil within the community, but the apostles stand firm in their testimony, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Psalm 150 might be on the lips of those early apostles. Everything that has breath should praise the Lord! The author of Revelation recounts a vision that he receives from the risen Jesus Christ, who one day will return as Lord of all nations. In John we learn more about the source of the confidence of the apostles. They have experienced Jesus in the flesh, and this experience gives power to their proclamation of the reality of his resurrection.
Read Acts 5:27-32. When has your faith compelled you to rise up, stand up, or kneel down in obedience to God rather than earthly authorities?
Read Psalm 150. When have you praised God with great celebration? When have you praised God with quiet service to creation?
Read Revelation 1:4-8. How do you see peace arising out of violence in the Bible and in the world around you?
Read John 20:19-31. How have your experiences of witnessing violence or the results of violence helped you to understand that violence does not have the last word?
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