Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Revelation 5:9
The scene is heaven. The apostle John has been given a glimpse of the future in the hand of God. “I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll . . . sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1). Opening the scroll signifies the unfolding of world history in the future. John weeps that there seems to be no one to open the scroll. Then one of the heavenly beings says, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll” (5:5). This is a reference to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He had conquered by his death and resurrection. Then John sees him: “I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (5:6).
Then the heavenly beings around the throne fall down and worship Christ. They sing a new song. Amazingly, the song announces that it is the death of Christ that makes him worthy to open the scroll of history. The implication is that Christ’s death was necessary to accomplish God’s global purposes in history. “They sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation’” (5:9).
Christ died to save a great diversity of peoples. Sin is no respecter of cultures. All peoples have sinned. Every race and culture needs to be reconciled to God. As the disease of sin is global, so the remedy is global. Jesus saw the agony of the cross coming and spoke boldly about the scope of his purpose: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). As he planned his death, he embraced the world.
Christianity began in the East. Over the centuries there was a major shift to the West. But increasingly now, Christianity is not a Western religion. This is no surprise to Christ. Already in the Old Testament his global impact was foretold: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you” (Psalm 22:27). “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy” (Psalm 67:4). So when Jesus came to the end of his ministry on earth, he made his mission clear: “that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be pro- claimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:46-47). The command to his disciples was unmistakable: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Jesus Christ is not a tribal deity. He does not belong to one culture or one ethnic group. He is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek [or any other group]; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:12-13). Call on him now, and join the great global band of the redeemed.
*This is taken from John Piper’s book “The Passion of Jesus Christ,” which was later released under the name “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die.” Please visit Desiring God’s Website for more gospel-centered resources from John Piper. You can also download a free PDF of “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die” here.