The enthronement of Jesus is based on his past death and resurrection, the immovable foundation of his present reign in Revelation.
The sacrifice and exaltation of Jesus are prominent themes in the book of Revelation. God’s plan to redeem humanity through him is unveiled in its visions, and his death, resurrection, and enthronement are put into action. His sovereignty over the Cosmos is the result of his faithful obedience and sacrificial death.
He is not a tyrant who violently subjugates his enemies, but the “Lamb who was slain” and now “shepherds the nations.” He is redeeming men and women from every “tribe and people and tongue” by his shed blood.
FIRSTBORN OF THE DEAD
At the outset of the book, he is called the “faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the Earth.” “Faithful witness” points to his death by which he bore witness to the world. “Firstborn of the dead” describes his resurrection. As a direct consequence, he became the “ruler of the kings of the earth.”
In the book’s first vision, John saw him as the glorious figure “like a Son of Man.” The language alludes to the incident when Daniel saw “one like a son of man” who received the “kingdom and dominion” from the “Ancient of Days.” In Revelation, this figure becomes the “Living One, and I became dead and, behold, living am I unto the ages of ages,” obvious references to his death, resurrection, and exaltation – (Daniel 7:13-14, Revelation 1:12-20).
Though he now reigns, he remains forever the one who died and rose from the dead, and therefore, he has the authority to unveil to the churches “what things must come to pass soon.” That same Jesus is the priestly figure who now walks among the “seven golden lampstands” in the sanctuary of God.
He encourages, corrects, and chastises his churches as needed, and assures every saint who “overcomes” eternal rewards. Those who do so will participate in his reign, “just as I also overcame and took my seat with my Father in his Throne.” He “overcame” by enduring the Cross. Likewise, believers overcome Satan by “the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their lives even unto death” – (Revelation 3:20-21, 12:11).
The theme of his “overcoming” through death is central in the vision of the “sealed scroll.” God’s redemptive plan could not be put into effect until the scroll was unsealed and its contents implemented. After an exhaustive search, the only one in the entire Cosmos found “worthy” to open it was the “Lamb who was slain.” Though he is the “lion of Judah,” He fulfills that messianic role as the sacrificial “Lamb” – (Revelation 5:6-10).
THE SLAIN LAMB
From that point forward, “Lamb” becomes the dominant title applied to him in the book, a total of twenty-eight times (4 x 7). In contrast, he is called “Christ” seven times, and “Jesus” fourteen times (2 x 7), all multiples of seven. The label “Lamb” stresses the theme of victory through self-sacrificial death. He is never described as the “lion of Judah” again.
Upon arriving before the throne, the “Lamb” took the “sealed scroll” from the “right hand” of the “One Sitting” on it, and the heavenly choir declared him “worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals” because “You were slain and thereby redeemed unto God by your blood men from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation” – (Revelation 5:9-10).
And it is the “Lamb” who now acts in concert with the “One on the Throne.” Together, they reign over the Cosmos, judge the impenitent, destroy their enemies, inaugurate the New Creation, and grant rewards and everlasting life to the righteous.
In the seventh chapter, John saw an innumerable multitude of men from every nation standing before the Throne and the “Lamb,” proclaiming loudly, “Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb!” They were exiting the “Great Tribulation, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Redemption, victory, and everlasting life were achieved through Jesus, the “Lamb who has been slain” – (Revelation 7:9-17).
Later, John saw the Devil poised to destroy the male figure about to be born from the “woman clothed with the sun.” Identified as the “son,” he was the Messiah who was destined “to shepherd all the nations with a scepter of iron.” Before the Dragon could destroy him, the child was “caught away to God and to his Throne,” resulting in “war in heaven” – (Psalm 2:7-10, Revelation 12:1-11).
In the vision’s interpretation, the “Great Red Dragon” represents Satan. He was banished to the earth and lost his prosecutorial power. Then, a loud voice proclaimed, “now has come salvation and power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ… And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb!” Thus, the “brethren” were declared victorious over Satan because of Christ’s death – (Revelation 12:9-11).
ON ZION, IN JERUSALEM
Later, John saw 144,000 thousand males standing victorious with the “Lamb” on “Mount Zion.” Each had the name of the “Lamb” and of his Father “written upon their foreheads.” Together, they “sang a new song” that no one outside their company could learn. Only those who belonged to the “Lamb” could sing the song of redemption – (Revelation 14:1-5).
The 144,000 “males” are those “who have been redeemed from the earth” and “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” Once again, this is the same group seen previously in the vision of the Throne. Note the parallels:
- “They sing a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and by your blood redeemed unto God men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” – (Revelation 5:9-12).
The book culminates in the vision of the “holy city, New Jerusalem.” All God’s enemies are defeated, sin and death are no more, and overcoming saints inherit everlasting life. The victory was total. Nevertheless, in the final vision, Jesus is still identified as the “Lamb.”
“New Jerusalem” is the “wife of the Lamb.” The apostles are the “Twelve Apostles of the Lamb.” In the city, the “Lord God, the Almighty, is its temple, and the Lamb.” The city is illuminated by “the glory of God, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb.” Only those whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life” gain access to the city. The “river of water of life” flows out from the “throne of God and of the Lamb,” and at the center of the Universe is the “throne of God and of the Lamb” – (Revelation 21:9-22:5).
Thus, by his death, the “Lamb” fulfills the role of the Davidic Messiah and reigns as the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” His exaltation over all things and the redemption of humanity are based on his sacrificial death and resurrection. Truly, therefore, “worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”