Who Is Jesus?
It is an awe-inspiring task to meditate upon the incomparable greatness of Jesus Christ. In the book of Revelation, for example, we are presented with an exalted picture of Jesus. He is the one who has loved us and loosed us from our sins by His blood (Rev. 1:5). He is the one who is in the midst of the churches, always aware of their conduct (Rev. 1:12-3:22). He is the great Lion/Lamb who is worthy of our worship (Rev. 5). He is the victorious warrior King who triumphs over all (Rev. 19:11-16). Such descriptions humble us as we think about who He is and what He has done for us.
Who is Jesus? The apostle John gives us three descriptions that convey a picture of who Jesus is. These three descriptions cover the period of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. In Revelation 1:5, John wrote that Jesus Christ is "the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth." These descriptions are filled with rich thoughts that help us appreciate who Jesus is.
The Faithful Witness
A witness is one who has been a spectator of an event or events. Having been a spectator, a witness can then testify as to what they have seen or learned. Jesus is the faithful witness of God. He is therefore qualified to speak about God, God's will, and God's love.
Jesus is qualified to be the faithful witness about God because He is God. The prologue to the gospel according to John records that Jesus was in the beginning with God and was God (cf. John 1-18). Isaiah spoke of the Christ as the "mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).
Jesus is qualified to be the faithful witness concerning God's will. The Hebrew writer declared that God speaks in His Son (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2). On many occasions, Jesus revealed that His teachings came directly from God. In John 8:26, Jesus said, "...and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him" (cf. John 8:28; 12:49-50; 14:10, 24; 15:15; 17:8,16). Possessing all authority, Jesus is qualified to be the faithful witness concerning God's will (Matt. 28:18).
Finally, Jesus is the faithful witness concerning God's love. Looking to Jesus is all that is necessary to see the love of God. The sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross is the great manifestation of God's love. In John 3:16, we learn that "God so loved that world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." Truly, Jesus is the faithful witness of God in all things!
The Firstborn Of The Dead
Suffering and persecution was the experience of many Christians living in the late first century. In fact, the book of Revelation addresses those who were being persecuted for the cause of Christ (cf. Rev. 1:9; 2:13; 6:9-11). However, Jesus was aware of their trials and sent them a wonderful message... "I am the firstborn of the dead!" What a great word of encouragement! Jesus had raised several from the dead in order to demonstrate the fact that He was the Son of God. Jesus, however, rose triumphantly from the dead never to die again! This is why He is great and preeminent. The apostle Paul wrote, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18).
What does His resurrection mean to us? First, we should be impressed with the fact that we serve a LIVING Savior. His body is not in the tomb suffering decay and destruction. Rather, Jesus reigns in heaven as Lord of lords and King of kings. Second, the resurrection of Jesus from the grave guarantees our resurrection (cf. 1 Cor. 15). How wonderful to know that we serve a risen, living, and loving Savior!
The Ruler Of The Kings Of The Earth
For many people in the late first century, it appeared as if the Caesar was the most powerful ruler in existence. He ruled over the mighty Roman empire and enforced worship that declared him to be "Dominus et Deus Noster - Our Lord And God." However, long before Caesar Domitian was born, Jehovah God declared, "Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Psalm 2:6-9). This Psalm speaks of the coming rule of the Messiah. Luke writes specifically of the rule of Jesus when he records the visit of Gabriel to Mary. Gabriel said concerning her Son, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33).
Jesus has every right to be ruler because of His resurrection from the dead. Both Acts 13:33 and Romans 1:4 show that His resurrection declare Him to be the Son of God. Being the Son of God, Jesus has all authority to rule. Speaking of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Paul wrote, "Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in 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 the God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).
Who is Jesus? In His life, He is the faithful witness. In His death, He is the firstborn of the dead. In His resurrection, He is the ruler of the kings of the earth. These descriptions magnify His greatness and help us understand the importance of rendering obedience to the Son of God.
By Jay Taylor
From Expository Files 13.4; April 2006