How do the powerful images of Christ in Revelations relate to the Jesus of the gospels? Which image of Christ is best suited to our times?
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The depiction of Jesus in the gospels is a little different depending on which gospel you are reading. Matthew portrays Jesus as the Messiah, the son of God and often alludes to the Old Testament prophecies he sees Christ fulfilling. Mark sees Jesus as a suffering servant. Luke portrays Jesus as the perfect man and John's gospel is centered around 7 miracles of Jesus. Traditionally, Jesus is seen as a humble servant who died a martyr's death. Although that picture may not be complete, this is the image people often refer to when they picture the Jesus of the gospels. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is seen as a powerful king and coming judge of the earth. I don't think it is important or even helpful to try to pick an image "suited to our times." Throughout the history of Christianity, all images of Jesus have been used depending upon the needs of the believer and/or observer. Sometimes, we need to see Jesus as a suffering servant because we ourselves are suffering. At the same time, it is wonderful to be able to see Jesus as the coming King and overcomer of evil to put things into perspective. Jesus is unique because, like humans, He is multifaceted. We never project the same image at all times so I think it's perfectly appropriate to see Jesus as projecting different images of Himself. That's what make Christianity unique. God or Jesus can adapt with us as opposed to having one single faceted personality.
You know, the Bible says Jesus was all things to all people. I find people take that in a hyper-literal sense and highlight or use only those elements of Jesus' character which support what they want to use Him for. If they want revenge or retribution, He is the God of vengeance. If they want freedom from punishment or justice, He is the God of love. He is both, of course, and He is not to be used as a convenience or a justification for bad behavior. In general terms, the Jesus of the Gospels was God as man; the Jesus of Revelation is the soon and coming King.
I think we need to be aware of the multiplicity of images of Christ that the Bible offers us. He is at once the lamb of peace but at the same time, as a recent-ish add campaign demonstrated, there is nothing meek and mild about Jesus, as he was shown to resemble Che Guevara. At the same time as representing peace, he came to bring division and rejection and war. I think we need to be open to the whole spectrum of images that there are of Jesus and not give one more importance than any others.
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