Preaching a Different Jesus?

Is Jesus the “slain Lamb,” or has he become the “roaring” Lion of Judah out to exact vengeance on his enemies? 

Lamb - Israel - Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash
When certain “
super-apostles” began to undermine his teachings, Paul reminded the church that the “serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness,” and warned against anyone who came “proclaiming another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or a different spirit, or a different gospel.” He pointed to the same Christ that he first proclaimed as the benchmark against which all other versions must be measured - [Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash].

Likewise, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul expressed his exasperation at how easily the church had accepted a gospel that deviated from his preaching:
  • (Galatians 1:6-8) – “I marvel that you are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another gospel; only there are some that trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any gospel other than that which we preached to you, let him be anathema.
Exactly what kind of ‘Christ’ did Paul preach? He was quite explicit in his first letter to the Corinthians – He proclaimed a crucified Messiah:
  • For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us who are saved, it is the power of God…For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe. Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a scandal, and to Gentiles, folly. But to them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” – (1 Corinthians 1:18-24).
Integral to his theology was the claim that God had achieved ultimate victory over sin, death, the “powers and principalities,” and Satan in the self-sacrificial death of Jesus on a Roman cross. Because of his submission to an unjust death, God resurrected and exalted him to reign over all things.

Unlike Adam, Jesus did NOT attempt to “seize the likeness” of God; instead, he “poured himself out” and became “obedient unto death,” even death on the cross. Consequently, “God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” – (Philippians 2:9-11).

Indeed, Jesus is, present tense, “before all things and the head of the body, the church.” All things were created for him “whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.” But he achieved preeminence because he is the “firstborn of the dead” - because of his Death and Resurrection. It was ON THE CROSS that he accomplished victory over all hostile “powers and principalities” – (Colossians 2:13-15).

From beginning to end, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the center of Paul’s gospel. Unfortunately, today, many preachers are proclaiming a “different gospel” and “another Jesus,” a faux gospel of triumphalism rather than the message of the Cross, preferring, as they do, the “roaring Lion from the Tribe of Judah over the “slain Lamb.”

Lion - Photo by Nashad Abdu on Unsplash
Photo by Nashad Abdu on Unsplash

A verse from
Revelation is cited to validate this new “gospel.” But in doing so, its proponents ignore the literary context and the theology of the book. One brief phrase is read out of context - “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has conquered to open the book and to open its seven seals” - (Revelation 5:5).

Thus, the argument goes, the conquering “lion,” overthrew his enemies and thereby demonstrated his right to take sovereignty over the earth. And apparently, from now on, Jesus will be taking no prisoners. He has become the sword-wielding warrior determined to mete out justice to all his opponents. And these preachers do not just mean when the “Son of Man arrives in glory,” but here and now as they seize control over the “seven mountains of society.”

In his vision, the Apostle John certainly did hear a voice alluding to the messianic prophecy from Genesis. But the same voice transformed the image of the “lion” into that of a “sacrificial Lamb.” John HEARDlion of Judah,” but when he looked, he SAW a freshly slain “Lamb.” What he saw interpreted what he first heard.

Jesus IS the “lion of Judah,” but he fulfills that role as the “slain Lamb.” He conquered in ways contrary to human wisdom and expectations, not by slaying his enemies, but by allowing them to slay him - (Genesis 49:9-10Numbers 24:9, Revelation 5:5-6).

This understanding was confirmed when a myriad of voices from around the heavenly Throne declared the Lamb “worthy” to take the scroll precisely because he purchased men from every nation by his shed blood – (Revelation 5:9-12).

It was the “Lamb” who was declared “worthy,” NOT the “lion.” This was the first and last time Jesus was called “lion” in the book of Revelation. From this point forward, “lamb” is his main designation. And in the book, he is called ‘Christ’ seven times, ‘Jesus’ fourteen times, but ‘lamb’ twenty-eight times. And it was the “Lamb” who ascended the Throne to take the sealed scroll and began to break open its seals, NOT the “roaring lion.”

So, what does his example mean for anyone who would “follow the Lamb wherever he goes”? Later, John saw an innumerable multitude exiting from the “Great Tribulation,” men and women redeemed by the “slain Lamb,” NOT by the “lion.” In Revelation, the “saints” overcome the “Dragon,” the “beast,” and the “false prophet” by the “blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony; and because they love not their life unto death.” It is by faithfulness through “tribulation” that “he who has an ear overcomes” – (Revelation 7:9-17, 12:11).

When John saw the “woman clothed with the sun,” she was about to give birth and brought forth the “son” who is destined to “shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron,” alluding to the messianic prophecy from the second Psalm. However, Revelation has changed the original “break the nations” to “SHEPHERD the nations,” following the text from the Greek Septuagint version. This suggests an unexpected and paradoxical fulfillment. And it was THIS “son” who was “caught up unto God and to his throne.” He does not “smash” the nations with his “rod of iron,” he “shepherds” them – (Psalm 2:1-9, Revelation 12:1-5).

The “kings of the earth” conspired to make war against the “Lamb,” but he overcame them, for he is “Lord of lords and King of kings; and so also they that are with him, called and chosen and faithful.”  When the “rider on a white horse” rode across the heavens to “fight” his enemies, his only weapon was the sword that proceeded out of his mouth, the “word of God.” Unexpectedly, his robe was sprinkled with blood even BEFORE he engaged in “combat.” Whose blood was it, and how did it get there? - (Revelation 17:14, 19:11-21).

Even after his final victory, Jesus is still identified as the “Lamb” and NOT as the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” In “New Jerusalem,” John saw no temple, for “the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb are its temple.” No longer will there be light from the sun and moon. God’s glory will illuminate the city, and the “Lamb will be its lamp.” Only those whose names are written in the “Lamb’s book of life” enter the city. The roar of the triumphant “lion” is not heard within its walls - (Revelation 21:22-27).

From the start, Revelation anchors its visions in the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is the “faithful witness and the firstborn of the dead,” references to his death and resurrection, and the “ruler of the kings of the earth” (present tense), all because of his obedient death. This is the Messiah who “loosed us from our sins by his own blood.” And because of his death, he now possesses the “keys of death and Hades” and reigns over all things on the Throne of God – (Revelation 1:4-6, 1:18).

As their all-powerful king, Jesus encourages, corrects, and praises his churches. He calls his followers to “overcome,” not by wielding political power against their neighbors, but by emulating his faithfulness. Saints reign alongside him on his Father’s Throne, “just as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne.” Believers “overcome” in the same manner as the “Lamb” did - (Revelation 3:21).

Overcoming believers reign as “priests,” not warriors. The call to overcome is a summons to persevere through tribulations while bearing faithful witness. To suffer for the kingdom is what it means to follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.” This is how believers “overcome” the “Dragon” and his minions - (Revelation 1:4-9, 5:9-10).

The worldly triumphalism that is being promoted by many preachers today is “another gospel,” they are following and proclaiming a radically “different messiah,” one incompatible with the crucified Christ described in the New Testament.

Paul declared that the message of “Christ crucified” was scandalous to Jews and folly to Greeks, and so it remains today. Nevertheless, the crucified messiah is “God’s power and wisdom,” and there is no true knowledge of Him or genuine spirituality apart from the Cross.



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