Water and Blood
Revelation 5:9,”Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain…”
In Revelation 5:9 we see something simple and yet staggering in its implications: Jesus is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals because He was slain.
Consider that for a moment…because Jesus was crucified, because Jesus was slaughtered, because Jesus offered up His life to the fires of God’s wrath, because the Lion of Judah stands in heaven with the wounds of a Lamb, because of this, He – as the God-Man – has the right to ascend to the throne of God, take the scroll of History’s consummation from His hand, and open it. The man Christ Jesus is the only being worthy to draw redemptive history to its conclusion, because He was slain.
If Jesus’ atoning death and vindicating resurrection is the reason that He is now worthy to open the scroll, this means that every event unleashed by the opening of that scroll is directly grounded on and purchased by the cross. This concept has staggering implications. When Christ opens the seals in 6:1, He initiates a cosmic avalanche that ultimately results in the eternal judgment or the wicked, the eternal joy of the elect, and the obliteration and resurrection of creation itself – and 5:9 teaches us that all of this is a direct result of the cross.
So, I want to quickly examine the twin results of Calvary that are unfolded to us in the book of Revelation under two headings: Joy and Judgment.
Joy Purchased by the Cross
Because the death of Christ purchased His right to open the scroll in 5:9, and because the opening of the scroll is the impetus for the events of the entire book, we can rightly say that all the joys laid out to us in Revelation could not be apart from the cross. There are some incredibly beautiful moments of joy in the book of Revelation that we could examine, however I think the best way to show that Joy is a fruit of the cross is to move our attention directly to the concluding chapters of the book.
In chapters 21 and 22 we see the fulfillment of every ancient ache in the human heart: We see the hellward bent of the human heart utterly removed, we see sin banished and Satan vanquished, we see the bodies of the elect resurrected imperishable and set to explore and cultivate and enjoy the new Earth and Heaven, and – most wonderfully of all – we see God Himself descend to dwell in life-saturating, face-to-face fellowship with His blood-bought people.
This is what the human being exists for….this is the Harvest toward which every desire seeded in our hearts is growing….this is the Feast to which every beauty we’ve ever known is merely an invitation, it is the Song of which every glory in this life is only a note or the snatch of a tune, it is the Face of which every beloved face in this life reminds us, and the Embrace of which the sweetest embraces of our earthly years are only echoes and pointers. And it is ahead for the Christian! It is no fantasy, it is no escapist dream, it is no “pie in the sky” silver lining hope…..it is the consummation toward which everything aims and for which everything was created, and it was purchased by the death of Christ.
So, joy beyond the walls of this world was purchased by the slaying of God the Son. As we read the final chapters of Revelation, may we remember that these glad words come to us through blood….and when we are in valleys of darkness in this life…or perhaps while we are lying on our death beds, feeling the heart’s final beats…let us then remember that JOY unspeakable is before us because our God died and rose again.
Judgment Purchased by the Cross.
Just as all the joy pictured for us in Revelation is a direct result of the cross, so too is all the judgment. This is stunning thought.
Earthquakes that shatter the planet (16:18), the death of the Sun, Moon, and Stars (6:12-13), destroying angels unleashed (9:14), hordes of kaleidoscopic demon creatures descending on the disbelieving world (9:7-11), terror that causes fallen man to “long to die” (9:6), and to seek their heads to be crushed by mountains as a means of escape (6:16) – all of these horrors and more flow from the opening of the scroll in 5:9 and are therefore enabled only because of Christ’s death on the cross…
As Jesus’ life ebbed away under the wrath of God on the cross, He was not only bearing wrath for those who would trust in Him, but also ensuring the outpouring of that same wrath on the unbelieving world. As His frail and beaten body hung in the sky, Christ was achieving the right to evaporate those some skies with His appearance as Universal Judge….as His blood fell to the ground He was securing the power to splinter that same ground with an earthquake of judgment as the Agent of God’s Wrath.
We are accustomed to thinking of Jesus’ death as purchasing our salvation – and this is beautifully true! However, I think Revelation 5:9 invites us to say more than this. All the divine acts presented in this book – the beautiful and the terrible – are results of the cross. Every single one of them is achieved only because Christ is worthy to open the scroll, and He is worthy because He was slain. So, let us be astounded at the wisdom and mystery of our God who so authored history that on a dark Spring afternoon outside Jerusalem, the death of a nondescript man, who is God, achieved both the obliteration and regeneration of all things.
Water and Blood
The entire book of Revelation is the fruit of the cross…This book shows us the twin accomplishments of Jesus’ death on the cross: Life for his people and Destruction for His enemies. Just as Christ’s side was pierced and blood and water flowed out, so too in Revelation we see that the piercing of Christ has two distinct results…one that scatters the blood of his enemies over the earth, and one that secures the river of Living Water for His people……
Yes, Jesus died on the cross so that He might bring us to God. He died on the cross so that we would be washed clean and made holy and blameless before Him. He died on the cross to manifest God’s love to the world – but He also died on the cross so that the fire and blood and sulfur of judgment might be cast onto the earth, so that the a third of humanity would die at the hands of destroying angels, so that the mountains would be torn down in massive world-wide earthquakes, and so that rebellious humanity might be reduced to nothing before the throne of God…He died to ensure both these things…
Glory to His Name.