Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Unknown Christ

You probably think you know your own name. It's that series of letters that everyone has been calling you from the moment you were born. At this point, you look in the mirror and identify the person staring back at you by that same set of letters. Your name is who you are.

But there's this passage in Revelation that reminds you that God has a name for you that you don't even know. One day, when you stand in front of Him, He will reveal it to you and give you the name that you were always meant to carry. If you're ever bored, it's fun to speculate about - what series of letters does God string together when He thinks about me? Who does God say that I am?

Do all the thinking you'd like, and you still probably won't know until that very day, until that very moment.

What's interesting in Revelation is that you're not the only one who has a name that you don't know yet. Jesus also has a name you don't know yet. Check out what John has to say about it:

There was a white hose, and its rider is named Faithful and True. With integrity he judges and wages war. His eyes are flames of fire. On his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him, but only he knows what it is. He wears clothes dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (Revelation 19:11-13)

In this short little passage, we have at least four names given or implied. He is named Faithful and True, which is a statement about the character of this horseman, his heart. On his head are many crowns, which makes him King of Kings. He wears clothes dipped in blood, which makes him the Lamb or at the very least, the Priest. And his name is the Word of God, which we know from John's gospel is a phrase he uses to refer to Jesus. This rider is, through and through, the Jesus we know.

Yet there is a fifth name, something that Jesus Himself knows, but we don't know yet. It's written on Him, and He can see it, but we have not yet imagined or fathomed it.

This is where it starts to get a little complicated. Because Jesus is, we're told, the fullness of God. And that is true. He is the fullness of flesh. And that is true. So it's just natural for us to assume that when we behold Jesus, we see the fullness of everything. We have come to believe that there's no mystery about Jesus, nothing about Him that is really beyond what we can understand. We have been told that He is the revelation for us, and that He is meant to show us the fullness of everything. And that is true.

But if we listen to John in this short passage in Revelation, there is something we missed. Something essential that we missed. Something at the very heart of who Jesus is that we missed. He has a name that we don't know yet. It's right there on His chest. But we missed it. Somehow.

And that is true.

The truth is that this truth isn't really about Jesus. He is who He has always been, the full measure of God and the full measure of flesh. He is as plain and as present as He ever was. The truth is that this truth is really about us - there are just some things we're never going to see, even if they're right in front of us.

We are creatures with a limited perspective. We can only see what we can see. We can only know what we can know. We can only discover what we can discover. For everything we know about the world, there are 10,000 things we haven't thought about yet. It's the subject of so many of the fun brain teasers that go around social media all the time - the point of them is to try to get you to think about the things you haven't thought about, the things you're not prone to think about. They reveal how we are a people who are limited, inherently. Jesus can stand right in front of you in the fullness of all that He is, and there are things about Him you're still going to miss because a broken, fallen, human heart just can't see them in a place like this.

Maybe you think that sounds like a bait-and-switch. Like God promised to reveal Himself to you, but then still somehow made it so that you couldn't really see. But it's not that at all.

Rather, it's a reminder that God, even Jesus, continues to be bigger, greater, grander, more good than you could even fathom of Him. It's a reminder that God doesn't fit in your limited vision; you are wrapped up in His infinite view. It's a reminder that for everything you know about God, there's still some measure of mystery that keeps you coming back, keeps you wanting to know more, keeps you asking, seeking, knocking. What good would God be if He fit in our very small boxes?

There's something about Jesus we don't know yet. Faithful and True, King of Kings, Lamb, Priest, Word of God, and...something. Something essential and beautiful and powerful and...amazing. But something we don't know, something maybe we can't know this side of Eden. It's enough to keep us looking, though, isn't it?

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