Jesus, our blood-drenched warrior (and how children’s Bibles may have misled us)

shield-309126_640Children’s Bibles, as helpful as they are, may give us a wrong idea of Jesus. Most children’s Bibles picture Jesus as a soft, gentle, hippie-type man who is always surrounded by butterflies and birds.  Many people have grown up thinking of Jesus as an effeminate man in sandals, rather than the Warrior-God come into our world to do battle for his people.  Of course, Jesus was and is kind and gentle, but that’s not all he is.   In the Old and New Testament God is pictured as the divine warrior who fights for his people.  We don’t often think about God, and God the Son, in these terms.

Soft Jesus

Dale Ralph Davis, a pastor and theologian, says: “No mild God or soft Jesus can give his people hope. It is only as we know the warrior of Israel who fights for us that we have hope of triumphing.”

Rider on the storm

Revelation 19 has one of the most startling and vivid pictures of Jesus in the Bible.   The curtains of this world were drawn back and the Apostle John saw a vision of heaven and the world to come:

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True (Jesus), and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems (crowns), and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.  (Revelation 19:11-16)

Christ is pictured as the divine warrior who wages war against all the enemies of God.  This war brings to a climax all the wars that God has waged on behalf of his people and finishes the triumph achieved by Christ on the cross.  Jesus’ eyes are like blazing fire affirming his ability to see and judge every human heart.  Jesus’ crowns indicate his kingly authority that he has from the Father.  The name that no one knows indicates that the full and surprising aspects of his coming are still a mystery.  Jesus’ name is the Word of God.  His weapon is a sharp sword that comes from his mouth representing his all-powerful Word.  He will save and conquer the nations, not with AK47s or suicide bombers, but through his Word, the gospel. As Jesus’ Word goes out it saves his people and judges his enemies.

Jesus’ robe is dipped in blood because, as the divine warrior conquers his enemies, their blood spatters his garments.   Jesus has a warrior tattoo on his thigh which says: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  You don’t read about this Jesus in children’s bibles.  Those who follow Jesus are also dressed in white and riding white horses showing that God’s people all share in Christ’s victory.

Here’s the point: unless God fights for us we are doomed because our enemies of sin, death and Satan are too powerful for us to overcome.  The good news for us is that God has fought for us in Jesus.

Christus victor

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.  (Colossians 2:13-15)

The cross of Christ marks the decisive defeat of the demonic powers.  On the cross, the demonic powers were stripped of their power to accuse Christians before God.  The image in v15 is of a victorious Roman Triumph and military procession.  Defeated kings with all of their surviving warriors and the spoils of war were paraded through the streets of Rome in New Testament times, as a public spectacle for all to see. Jesus is pictured as our triumphant warrior who wins a great victory over sin, death and Satan.  These defeated powers are paraded along the “streets” of the universe behind Commander Jesus in the triumphant procession.

Victory march

14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Again the image is of the lavish victory parades celebrated in Rome.  God is depicted as the sovereign victor with Christ as the general leading the victory procession.   The Apostle Paul, and indeed all Christians, is pictured as being led by Christ, “captured” by Christ, but now joyfully following him.

God fights

A great battle has been fought and won in the death and resurrection of Christ.  If God has fought and continues to fight for you, no enemy can ultimately overcome you.  They may mock you in this world and even behead you, but Christ has overcome this world.  And like the Apostle Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain”. What can you do to someone who knows that “death is gain” because the ultimate battle has been won?  However, if God is fighting against you because of your rebellion or apathy towards him, you can never win and you will finally lose.

Will you submit to the divine warrior and to his all-powerful Word?  Or will you fight against him and continue in your stubborn rebellion?   Jesus was not a hippie; he was and is our divine, blood-drenched warrior.  The blood pictured in Revelation 19 is not his own, it’s of those who would oppose him.

 

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