Preaching Another Jesus

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

Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash

When certain “super apostles” began to undermine his teachings in Corinth, 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 had first proclaimed as the benchmark against which all others must be measured -[Photo by Ivan Diaz 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 GodFor 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 wisdombut 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 Paul’s 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. Because of his faithful obedience to an unjust death, God resurrected Jesus 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 a Roman cross. Consequently:
  • God highly exalted him, and gave him the name that is above every namethat 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 and holds 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”:
  • And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasseshaving blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross, having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made an open display of them, triumphing over them in it. ” – (Colossians 2:13-15).
Thus, from beginning to end, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is and remains the center of Paul’s gospel. And so, 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.” Rather than “follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” they exhort us to mimic the “roaring Lion.

A verse from the book of Revelation is often 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, Jesus, the conquering “lion,” overthrew his enemies, thereby demonstrating his right to open the “sealed scroll” and take sovereignty over the earth. And apparently, from now on, this same 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:
  • Judah is a lion’s…the scepter will not depart from Judah or a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” - (Genesis 49:9-10Numbers 24:9).
However, that same voice transformed the militaristic image of the “lion” into the “sacrificial Lamb.” John HEARD - “Lion of the tribe of Judah” - but 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 - (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:
  • You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and made them for our God a kingdom and priests, and they reign upon earth” – (Revelation 5:9-12).
Again, 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. From this point, “lamb” is his main designation.
In Revelation, 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” overcame 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 was by faithfulness through “tribulation” that “he who has an ear overcomes” – (Revelation 7:9-17, 12:11).

In chapter 14, John saw victorious men and women standing on “Mount Zion” with the Lamb.  They stood with him because they had followed the “Lamb wherever he went” - (Revelation 14:1-4).

When John saw the “woman clothed with the sun,” she was pregnant and about to give birth. She brought forth the “son” who was destined to “shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron,” alluding to the messianic prophecy from the second Psalm. Only, Revelation 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 already, even BEFORE he engaged in “combat” with the “beast” and its allies. Whose blood was it, and how did it get there? - (Revelation 17:14, 19:11-21).

Even after final victory, Jesus is still identified as the “Lamb,” 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, the book of Revelation anchors its visions in the sacrificial death and bodily 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), because of his obedience unto 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 is “another gospel,” they are proclaiming a radically “different messiah,” one incompatible with the crucified Christ described on the pages of 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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