This post was written at the request of reader, Mitch Smith—https://thevoiceofone.org/2013/03/09/suggestion-box/#comments. Thanks, Mitch!
Revelation is nothing if not a book about the supremacy of Christ. From start to finish, it is full of images that communicate both the fact and the spirit of His supremacy. What do I mean by “the fact and the spirit?” Here’s an example: Jesus is announced in chapter 5 as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Rev. 5:5). Can you get more kingly than this string of titles? This is the triple-threat of supremacy! When John turns to see this exalted One, he sees a throne. This is the fact of supremacy. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. But in the center of the throne, John sees “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6). This is the spirit of supremacy. Everything is subjected to the will of Christ because He said, “Not my will” (Matt. 26:39). Jesus wears the crown of God because He wore the crown of thorns.
John next sees a scroll sealed with seven seals. Only the Lamb can open it. When He opens it, wave after wave of devastating judgments are unleashed on humanity. Here again is the fact of supremacy. Jesus has been given authority to judge (John 5:22-23). God created this first creation through Christ, and He will destroy it through Christ. Here’s where the spirit of supremacy comes in: the Lamb alone is worthy to open the seals and to unleash God’s wrath because He bore the fullness of that wrath on the cross. He’s not dishing out what He can’t take. Jesus knows, firsthand, the terror and suffering of God’s displeasure. And He offers each of us the chance to let damnation fall on Him instead of us. For these reasons, ONLY Jesus has the right to unseal God’s unmitigated fury.
The fact of Christ’s supremacy is rooted in the spirit of His supremacy. This was a vital reality to the Christians John was writing to. Why? Many of them were suffering brutal persecution (Rev. 2:3, 10, 13; 3:8-10). They needed to know that they weren’t just suffering imprisonment, loss, and death; they were participating in the supremacy of Jesus; they were conquering through weakness, just as He had.
The Laodiceans were lukewarm (Rev. 3:15). The message to them? Christianity isn’t a spectator sport. If you don’t suffer with Him, you won’t be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17). At Ephesus, they lost touch with the fact that Jesus conquered through an apology—“Father, forgive them”—not apologetics (Luke 23:34; Rev. 2:2). Other believers were welcoming and tolerant—of immorality, sin, and heresy. Jesus shed His blood rather than succumb to these. He shed His blood so that we wouldn’t have to succumb to them either. What an insult to the Spirit of grace when we live with these things instead of dying to them with Christ (Heb. 10:26-29).
The church of John’s time sounds a lot like the church today. And we need the supremacy of Jesus as deeply as they did. We need to see that love—the Lamb slain—conquers all.