In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.Revelation 1:16
There is an intriguing, recurring image of Christ in the book of Revelation as one who has a sharp sword coming out of his mouth; an image that is slightly disturbing – why would a weapon of destruction be associated with Christ – the one of love, peace and compassion – and why is it coming out of his mouth?
But this rather bizarre allegorical representation of Christ does in fact get to the nub of the gospel, doesn’t it? The sword is, of course, Christ’s words which ‘cut through all the crap’ and symbolically pierce everyone who comes in contact with Him. Those who tried to argue with Jesus (usually the religious leaders) didn’t get very far, did they? His words were (and still are), powerful, succinct and dangerous: the status quo will change. This is the reason why they wanted to obliterate him.
Christ’s words do not come with a ‘trigger warning’ but they have the power to knock people sideways. We could pick numerous examples of astonishing statements and directives, couldn’t we? How about, ‘Sell everything you have and give it to the poor and come follow me’ (Mark 10: 17-22) or ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’ (John 11:25)? If his words don’t make you take a sharp intake of breath as if someone has punched you in the stomach, then something is seriously wrong. Who could ever go on believing (as so many seem to) that Jesus was just a ‘good man, but wasn’t who he claimed to be’ after reading such declarations? If he wasn’t who he claimed to be then he wasn’t a good man then, was he?
And sadly, most people don’t want this Christ; they want a different version – the ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ blessing everyone on the Mount. If that’s what you want then nothing in your life will ever change. Remember the rich young man turns sadly away when Jesus tells him to sell everything he’s got. It’s a step too far for him, isn’t it? And many would, of course, agree – what kind of ‘advice’ is this? Jesus takes you to the very edge; he slaps you in the face and shows you how shallow and hollow your life really is – he offers something more precious and fulfilling than anything this world can offer, but it’s not always easy – far from it! Notice it is a ‘double edged sword’, a phrase we now use to describe something with both good and bad consequences. There is a price – you have to give up focusing on yourself and ‘Mammon’ and concentrate on Him instead. And your life will never be the same again. Paul tells us that the Spirit searches everything, even the very depths of God (1 Corinthians 2: 6-13)– wow! We will never be bored again – there are infinite depths to discover that only He can reveal to us. Let’s do our best not to allow the ‘watered down’ version of Christ to be preached to others, let’s tell them instead about this Christ – the one with the sword.