What wonderful imagery we have in today’s reading – “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse…” I think one of the reasons why the writer of the Book of Revelation used such vivid and stark images was to show a sharp contrast between good and evil. In Jesus’ time, that was difficult to do. Their every day life was violent and stark.
Our civilization now is more refined. We have more difficulty accepting the images used in Revelation, even in today’s reading. These verses are supposed to show the glory of God as he rides from heaven down to earth to save the faithful. Yet, these passages say that he comes to judge and make war. “His eyes are like blazing fire…” “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood…” “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” “He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” Wow. The God I imagine simply wouldn’t look like that. The picture in my mind looks more like the paintings I have seen of the gentle Jesus with a lamb over his shoulders. I believe that God will triumph over evil by His goodness and love, not because he has the bigger sword or army.
The fact of the matter, and what I think this reading is really about, is that Jesus is coming again in glory to take the faithful from the horrible place that earth will (and has already to a certain extent) become. There will be a stark difference between those who have chosen salvation and those who have not. We all have a choice to make every day in that regard. We can be saved, and by being saved live the life of love that Jesus showed to us, or we can wait for a violent and torturous end.