And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth…
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory, etc. These words suggest a few thoughts concerning Christ and the soul.
I. CHRIST IS THE LOVER OF THE SOUL. "Unto him that loved us" (ver. 5). Other beings may love the human soul - angels may, saints may - but no one has loved it as Christ has.
1. He loved it with an absolutely disinterested love. Alas! we know but little of disinterested affection. With all our love for each other, there is generally a mixture of selfishness. But Christ had nothing to gain from the human spirit; its damnation would not diminish his blessedness; its salvation would not add to his ineffable bliss. He loved the soul for its own sake, as the offspring of God, endowed with wonderful capabilities, possessing in itself a fountain of influence that would spread indefinitely through all time and space.
2. He loved it with a practically self-sacrificing love. It was not a love that existed merely as an emotion, or that even wrought occasional services; it was a love that led to the sacrifice of himself. "He loved us, and gave himself for us. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life."
3. He loved it with an earnestly forgiving love. "When we were enemies Christ died for the ungodly." He loved those who were not only out of sympathy with him, but who were in malignant hostility to him; and his love was not only such as to incline him to listen to petitions for pardon, but as inspired him with an intense longing to forgive his enemies. "Herein is love." Who ever loved like this? Here is a love whose height, depth, length, breadth, passeth all knowledge.
II. CHRIST IS THE CLEANSER OF THE SOUL. "And washed ['loosed'] us from our sins in his own blood" (ver. 5). The moral restoration of the soul to the knowledge, image, and enjoyment of God is represented in a variety of figures in the Bible, which is a highly figurative book. When the lost state of the soul is represented as a state of condemnation, then its restoration is represented as forgiveness or justification; when its lost state is represented as enmity to God, then its restoration is set forth under the metaphor of reconciliation; when its lest state is represented as a state of death or sleep, then its restoration is set forth as a quickening and awakening; when its lost state is represented as a bondage, then its restoration is set forth as an enfranchisement; when its lost state is represented as a state of pollution or uncleanness, then its restoration is represented as a washing or a cleansing. All these figurative expressions represent one thing - the moral restoration of the soul; and this is spoken of in the text as wrought by Christ. "Washed us from our sins in his own blood." To be washed in blood is an expression that sounds incongruous and somewhat offensive; but it does not mean material blood, as the vulgar and the sensuous understand, but the spiritual blood, which is his moral life, his self-sacrificing love. The cleansing influence which is here applied to the blood is elsewhere applied to the "Name of Christ." Now "ye are clean through the word I have spoken;" again, "Sanctified through thy truth." Then to the "water of the Word," "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word." The "Name," the "Word," the "Spirit," the "Truth," which are represented in such passages as cleansing the soul, must of course be regarded as meaning essentially the same thing as "blood" here, which stands for the moral spirit of Christ, which is the same thing as Christ himself. He it is who cleanseth the soul - cleanseth it by his life. The figurative language here is purely Judaic, taken from the old temple ceremonies; for "almost all things were purified by the Law through blood." The grand mission and work of Christ are to put away sin from the soul. Sin is the guilt, sin is the curse, sin is the ruin of human nature. Sin is not so engrained, so wrought into the texture of the human soul that it cannot be removed; it can be washed out, it is separable from it, it can be detached.
III. CHRIST IS THE ENNOBLER OF THE SOUL. "Hath made us kings and priests unto God" (ver. 6).
1. Christ makes souls "kings." "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me." Souls in their unregenerate state are paupers, prisoners, slaves; they are the mere creatures of internal passions and external circumstances. Christ enthrones the soul, gives it the sceptre of self control, and enables it to make all things subservient to its own moral advancement.
2. Christ makes souls "priests." True priests are in some respects greater than kings. Kings have to do with creatures, priests with God. Christ, then, is the Ennobler of souls. Worldly sovereigns may and do bestow titles of greatness on men. The wonder is that they should have the audacity to attempt to ennoble by bestowing titles. They cannot bestow greatness itself. Christ bestows true greatness - greatness of thought, heart, sympathy, aim, nature. He alone is great whom Christ makes great; all others are in the bonds of corruption.
IV. CHRIST IS THE DEITY OF THE SOUL. "To him be glory and dominion forever and ever." The souls whom Christ has loved, cleansed, and ennobled feel that he is their God, and render to him the willing and everlasting homage of their nature. "Unto him that loved us, and washed [loosed] us from our sins in [by] his own blood." God in Christ is the grand object of human worship, and those whom Christ has thus restored cannot but worship him. Worship with them is not a service, but a spirit; is not obedience to a law, but the irrepressible instinct of a life.
V. CHRIST IS THE HOPE OF THE SOUL. "Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him" (ver. 7). The high probability is that this is a prophetic description of Christ as he came in his providence to the destruction of Jerusalem. Between his final advent and this there are so many striking resemblances that the description of the one is remarkably applicable to the other. Applying the words to the final advent, we have four facts concerning it.
1. Christ will come. Reason and conscience, as well as the Bible, teach this. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of it; Job knew that he would stand again upon the earth. Christ and his apostles frequently and unequivocally taught it (Luke 9:26).
2. His coming will be terribly grand. "On the clouds of heaven." The grandest objects to mortal eyes are the heavens that encircle us. Their vast expanse and immeasurable height, all radiant with rolling orbs in boundless variety, seem to bear us into the awful depths of infinitude. Anything strange on the face of those heavens has always a power to strike terror on human souls. Christ is represented as coming on the clouds. Daniel, in a vision, beheld him thus (Daniel 7:13). Christ himself declared that thus he would come (Mark 24:30; 26:64). Angels have declared the same (Acts 1:11). John beheld him on a "great white throne," so effulgent that the material universe melted away before it. How unlike the despised Galilaean!
3. His coming will be universally observed. "Every eye shall see him" (ver. 7). It is an event in which all are interested. Men in all ages and lands, from Adam "to the last of woman born." Men of all social grades and mental types are all vitally concerned in this stupendous event. Hence all shall see him.
(1) All shall see him immediately. Now we see him representatively by his words, ordinances, and ministers. But then we shall see him.
(2) All shall see him fully. Not one shall have a partial view, a mere passing aspect, but a full, complete vision. His full Person will fall complete on every eyeball.
(3) All shall see him impressively. The universe had never had such an impressive sight of him before.
4. His coming will be differently regarded.
(1) To some it will be a scene of poignant distress. "They also which pierced him: and all kindreds [the tribes] of the earth shall wail because of him [mourn over him]" (ver. 7). What inexpressible and inconceivable anguish will the rejecters of Christ experience then!
(2) To others it will be welcomed with delight. "Even so, Amen." The good, in all ages, have said, "Come, Lord Jesus." To his true disciples it will be a period in which all difficulties will be explained, all imperfections removed, all evils ended forever. But it is not in an outward or objective sense that this appearance of Christ is to be practically regarded. It is a subjective appearance. The heaven on which he is to appear is the individual soul, and the "clouds of heaven" are the clouds of thought and feeling that roll within us. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,