Missing Cross?

Missing Cross? May 26, 2014

Revelation 12 is an allegory of Jesus and the church. A laboring woman clothed with the sun is stalked by a dragon. The woman gives birth, and the child is snatched away to heaven. This is Christ, but He seems a crossless Christ: A theology of glory if there ever was one.

This is one crucial place where Revelation has to be read in tandem with the gospel of John. As Warren Gage of Knox Seminary has pointed out, John and Revelation run parallel to one another as twin chiasms, both centered on chapter 12. 

In John 12, Jesus promises that when He is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself. “Now is the judgment of this world; now is the prince of this world cast out.” Revelation 12 shows Jesus lifted up, and shows the dragon falling from heaven. 

But in John 12, the lifting up is a lifting up on the cross. The “now” when judgment comes is the now of the crucifixion. Revelation assumes the same Johannine theology: The seed of the heavenly woman expels the dragon after He is raised on His cross-throne, and then on to heaven. In John and Revelation, we may say that the cross it the beginning of the Word’s return to the Father. 

That this is the implied theology of the passage is evident from the Psalm of praise in Revelation 12:11, which says that the dragon is overcome by the blood of the Lamb. There’s no blood in the passage, unless the ascent of the child is assumed to be along a path of blood.

May we please take things like this into consideration when asking the question of the authorship of the Apocalypse?

But there’s a further twist. There is an explicit cross in Revelation 12 and the following chapters, but it is not the cross of the Christ. It’s the cross of the woman, who has to flee into the wilderness, and especially the cross of her children, who are slaughtered by the beast before they are exalted to heavenly thrones. The saints are shown taking up the cross to follow Jesus in His suffering and exaltation.

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