The first and last times a word is mentioned in the Bible may not be doctrinally significant, but I find them fascinating nevertheless. Indulge my fascination for a moment.
In Revelation 19.13 appears a description of Jesus with the word “blood” — our theme for this month. It is the last occurrence of the word in the Bible.
We usually associate blood with our cleansing from sin, and rightly so. John takes a different tack here.
He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.
In this segment of Revelation Jesus is the victorious Rider on the white horse, leading heaven’s armies, also seated on similar steeds. An angel has just told John not to worship him, being a fellow servant. Now charges into the scene one who is worthy to be worshiped.
He is worthy because he is clothed in a blood-soaked robe. Is John thinking here of Joseph, whose robe was dipped in animal blood by his brothers and shown to their father, the great Lie to justify their familial betrayal? Because of this, Joseph went on to fulfill the promise of Abraham, to a degree, by saving the world of that time, at the moment, as God lead him and exalted him to a position of power. Joseph never again wore that robe, but Jesus does, for the blood is the sign and means of victory. His robe proclaims the great Truth, which he came to testify to, that man needs forgiveness, that Jesus’ death provides reconciliation, and that his resurrection is the great victory over evil.
In this segment, the Rider aggregates to himself all sorts of powerful names: Faithful and True; The Word of God; King of kings and Lord of lords. These besides “a name written that no one knows but himself” v. 12. In the Old Testament, God was proclaimed as being the one true God, but no one name appeared to be able to contain or express him, so many are given to him. Is this what’s happening here with the Rider clothed in a robe dipped in blood?
With the mention of the robe comes the name: The Word of God. Possibly, the two are joined, because the Word reveals, creates, judges, and cleanses. John loves Jesus as the Word, because as a word expresses a thought, so Jesus is intimately involved with, and in communion with, the Father, as he expresses the divine thought or plan (see Isaiah 55).
Were the issues involved in the Catholic-Protestant fight about the priority of the church or the Bible not so critical, it would be comical. Christ is the Word is the body is the church is the victory. It all starts with the Rider clothed in a robe dipped in blood. Or, we might say, it all ends with him.
Note that the Rider was the victim of violence. He himself spoke not a word, raised not his hand against anyone, in fact, he healed a man’s ear loped off by Peter’s sword. During his earthly work, he healed the sick, restored the possessed to sanity, raised people from the dead, fed the hungry, stilled the tempests and quieted fears, and taught the truth to a society steeped in religious tradition and hypocrisy. And when it came time to die, he did — nothing. Ah, but mere hours before he did the greatest thing of all; he delivered himself up to the will of God.
By such a decision to allow himself to be stripped naked and hung on a cross, he also allowed himself to be clothed in a robe dipped in blood, which brought forgiveness and victory to all those who believe and are faithful to him.
And shortly he will wield the rod of iron and strike down the enemies of God who seek to throw down the Kingdom. “He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” v. 15. This is not violence, but divine justice. Already, the Rider is moving. Already, his forces are gathering. Already, the Word is speaking, and the lake of fire that burns with sulfur has been prepared.
This is the last time the word “blood” appears in Scripture. It is when the Word of God has the last word. It is victorious blood, seated on a white horse, riding to put down all resistance.
This one, and not the gods of society, is the one who is worthy, worthy, worthy, of worship.