Then it all ended. September 2, 1945: the Allied Forces force Japan into unconditional surrender. The War was over— and the American Prisoners-of-War remained in their death-camp two more months. Yes! Even though the War was over, the Americans did not immediately hop back to base. They were not instantly released into the arms of their families. The prison camp is not burned down. The men remained there— but! but… the power of the enemy was snapped. The prisoners became the conquerors and the once-conquerors became the prisoners. The PoWs now barked orders at their former captors: “Get us more food.” “Schedule the train for us.” “Bring us medicine.” The Japanese had to obey. Although surrounded by the sight of captivity, the captives actually lived free.
That’s a strange thought: to live free among the sight of captivity. As strange as it sounds, that statement is true! You (and I) live under the effects of Jesus’ victorious resurrection. The devil lost. Hell is broken. Christ wins! Christ reigns! Never lose sight of that. The Lamb Once Slain has Begun His Reign! Complete supremacy belongs to him. This stands true forever.
Do you think that’s true? Complete supremacy belongs to Jesus? That his intentions trump the actions of world governments? That he protects life against those who wish to destroy it? It does not seem like it, does it? I mean, killing the unborn remains legal; lawmakers even fight against any restrictions to abortion. Young children are indoctrinated to accept ungodly definitions of sexuality, gender, marriage. Fathers are absent, mothers neglect, and couples refuse marriage. World leaders taunt God and God does not shoot down lightning. Many deliberately mock what is right and nothing happens. Do you think Christ really controls what happens in society?
What about matters of church? ‘Church’ deals directly with the things of God! You would assume that Jesus would defend his teachings. You expect Jesus to silence false teachers. Then, you watch some churches label what God calls ‘right,’ ‘wrong,’ and in turn, they parade what is ‘wrong’ as ‘right.’ You call ‘wrong,’ wrong and ‘right,’ right and people reject you! Your congregation stands on the Word, and (1) your friend does not want to hear it, (2) your community dismisses it, (3) many live unconcerned about eternal life! Christ controls his Church?
What about your life? You ask God to heal rifts, but family division still runs deep. You pray for mobility, but lose ability. You still mourn and the pain never really goes away. Your issues may seem small compared to greater issues spanning the globe. So you think that at least God should be able to help one single ‘you.’ Then nothing happens! Life never gets better! The Lamb Once Slain has Begun His Reign and evil still runs rampant? It just does not feel like Complete supremacy belongs to Jesus.
That’s the problem: You feel. You expect. You assume. You base truth on your ever-changing feelings. You take only what you see and wrongly conclude that Jesus loses. Think back to those American captives. What did they see after the War? Japanese military. Slummy conditions. A foreign land. Based on what is seen, the Americans look enslaved. It took one word to shatter what was seen. One word called them to look beyond the uniforms, the enemy, the territory. One word told them to see their life as it truly is: ‘Victorious!’
God gives you not just one word, but many. The Lamb Once Slain has Begun His Reign and Complete supremacy belongs to him. How can you be sure? Look to God’s Word. Hear it. Take to heart what it tells you.
The Apostle John knows exactly what it feels like to wonder if Jesus has control. Revelation 1:9 says: I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos… Why? Well, John does what Jesus commands him to do: preach! Roman Emperor Domitian did not like that. He exiles John! Dumps him off on an island. Alone. Kept away from family, friends, people. All because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Do you think John questions the control Jesus claims to have? Good government? Moral people? Less persecution against your church?
Even though suffering, where do you find John looking? To God. Revelation starts: The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place (1:1). Yes, Jesus reveals a difficult life for you, the Christian, but that is not the main focus. Jesus points you past the chaos to see him as he truly is: The Lamb Once Slain who has Begun His Reign.
[John] looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. Every square inch teems with angels who blend together in one, thunderous song: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” John sees this now. The victory party has already started. The angels still sing and will sing forever!
Jesus wins! He snaps the power of the devil. Jesus never stumbles into temptation. He never shakes a fist at God and demands: “God! Where are you?! Give me instant success!” No. Jesus lives unblemished. On Good Friday—a day where Jesus looks absolutely powerless—he lays down his life (John 10:17-18). Understand, the devil did not kill Jesus. The cross did not kill him. People did not kill him. Jesus willingly died.
He chose to deal with your greatest fear: Unending misery. That is what we dread. Death that goes on forever. Jesus stands in front of God the Father, pulls out his perfect record, and gives it to him to use for you. Then, in your place, Jesus tastes unending misery. He dies forsaken, abandoned, alone— and no one helps him. Jesus chooses to deal with this.
Then, on Easter, he comes back to life. He does not ask the devil for permission. He does not ask a doctor for help. Nope. He rises from death and walks out of the tomb. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a victorious exclamation point on the truth that your fears have been completely wiped out. You are forgiven. Christ says so. Heaven (not hell) is your home. Christ says so. Christ remains with you. He says so. This vision from Revelation shows these words are not empty wishes, but a reality of what is really going on behind the scenes. The Lamb Once Slain has Begun His Reign! Complete supremacy belongs to him. This stands true forever.
Nothing will ever change the effects of Easter. John heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” This loud chorus tells you what happened. Give praise, honor, and respect to Jesus because he has taken the throne! He deserves praise, honor, and respect because he is already sitting in authority. The four living creatures [literally: kept saying], “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. You say ‘Amen.’ You say ‘Amen’ at the end of prayers. You say ‘Amen’ at the close of service. I say ‘Amen’ at the end of each sermon. Remember what ‘Amen’ means? ‘So let it be.’ ‘Yes, everything said about God’s abilities, personality, and character is true. Let everything we ask for happen.’
So, God shows you what definitely happens. First, Jesus holds final say on every single thing that happens in this universe and everything that happens on your globe. Nothing happens without his notice. No one overrules him. So, when the devil whispers: ‘Jesus wins? Then why is Christian living so difficult?’ point him to the cross. Remind him that the cross means you, the Christian, will spend life in paradise. Remind him that the cross means God’s Word will forever remain in the world for you to hear and read. Remind him that Jesus has locked him to hell. When nonbelieving leaders change morality or change Scripture, remember: God will send every rebel to hell (Mark 16:16). They reject his Word. They do not want him. So, they will get the hell they ask for. As for you, regardless of how the world might treat you, God will treat you well forever.
Also, remember the final sentence in verse 11: [The angels] encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. Angels are God’s messengers (Hebrews 1:14). The living creatures picture Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the men who put Jesus’ teachings into writing. The elders? That pictures every believer in the Old Testament and New Testament. And they stand in heaven! God shows you where Christians are. Now. Your spouse. Your mother, your father, your child. My grandparents—all those who believed and were baptized are saved (Mark 16:16). They stand in heaven now. With other believers! With angels! With John the Apostle! One day, you will take your place next to them and the Lamb.
Finally, The Lamb Once Slain has Begun His Reign. If this stands true forever, then why is life still difficult now? Why face ungodly governments or grueling decisions or limitations? Does Jesus really have control? Yes. Yes, he does. Government pressure urges you to stand on and stand up for God’s truth. Family division only increases your patient forgiveness. Personal struggles teach you to depend on God even more. There is nothing that will not draw you closer to your God (Romans 8:28). You can be sure of that. Your Jesus wins! He unveils heaven, your home. He points out your spot. He is walking you there. The devil, the world, and our hearts try to block this vision from our eyes. Yet, behold the vision glorious and wrap yourself in the comfort of the powerful Christ. The Lamb Once Slain has Begun His Reign! This stands true forever.
It can be difficult to see victory— especially when every sight around you is unwanted. Then again, what is seen is not always true. The American Prisoners-of-War remained in their death-camp two months after the War ended. They did not immediately hop back to base. They were not instantly released into the arms of their families. The prison camp is not burned down. The men remain there— but! but… the power of the enemy was snapped. The prisoners became the conquerors and the once-conquerors became the prisoners. Although surrounded by the sight of captivity, the captives actually lived free.
You (and I) live under the effects of Jesus’ victorious resurrection. The devil lost. Hell is broken. Christ wins! Christ reigns! Never lose sight of that. The Lamb Once Slain has Begun His Reign! Complete supremacy belongs to him. This stands true forever.