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Jesus as Warrior-King: a Communion Mediation

(This blog entry is adapted from a talk given before communion in July 2020).


As we prepare our hearts & minds for the Lord’s Supper, let us revisit a less popular, yet thoroughly biblical portrait of Jesus, post-enthronement: as warriorking.


Why this image? Well, for one thing, I have been watching a couple of shows about time periods of gruesome warfare (Danes vs. Saxons, English vs. Scots, and so forth), and I have been struck by the brutal reality of it all: the fear in the communities raided by merciless enemies, the fearlessness of heroic warriors, and the disconnect with so much of the modern luxuries that we take for granted. The shows to which I refer are set in periods before the prominence of gun powder. Thus, they depict battles mostly fought at close range and with sharpened bits of metal: knives, swords–even axes. What these stories held in common, though, is this: one central, brave, honorable, heroic warrior who fights to protect others. In their best moments, they not only defend the weak, but they also uplift them by honoring them in the sight of others, giving greater purpose and meaning to the lives of these weaker individuals.



Why warrior-king Jesus at communion, then? Well, the gospel doesn’t end with an infant in a manger, nor with a bloody, beaten Messiah nailed to a cross. It does not even finish with God raising this Messiah from the dead, and it certainly does not end with Jesus merely ascending into heaven, as if He is escaping the harsh realities of this world. He did not flee nor escape. He ascended to be enthroned at God’s right hand, in order that He may rule the heavens and the earth as its rightful King deserving of allegiance. He will tolerate treason temporarily, but He will return as warrior King and do what needs to be done to complete His rule.


Rev. 19:11-16   Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.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 wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The point of this meditation is not to stir up fear and anxiety—unless, of course, you are an enemy of the Christ. In that case, then yes–you should probably be very afraid indeed. As is said of Aslan in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: He is good, but he isn’t safe.


Go read Revelation 1:12-16, but I want to focus on how the author of Revelation, John, reacts to seeing this Jesus, the powerful war-king of heaven and earth. John is no enemy of Christ, mind you, yet he writes: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”


Then, however, Jesus says unto John:


“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys to death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are–and those that are to take place after this.”


In that case, this image of Jesus the warrior-king is also one of comfort. We have someone who will fight—and is already fighting—on our behalf. We have someone who can protect us when our final enemy, Death, strikes. We have a Savior and King—a Christ– who already bore all of sin and shame that was ours, in order that we may be saved from it. Jesus is our savior and our Christ, God’s Annointed, Our King—because YHWH has anointed Him as such.  God has rescued us from death and from ourselves when He defeated our sins on the cross of Calvary, and so it is to him we pledge our allegiance when we eat this bread (his body) and drink this cup—the fruit of the vine (his blood). When he returns, may he find us full of faith and living a way that honors him by doing what is right. To the lamb that was slain, now our king, be all glory and honor, forever and ever, amen.