From Swaddling Clothes to Priestly Robes

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

(Revelation 1:12–15, NIV)

The water’s roar thundered through my entire body. I stood clutching the slippery rail that separated me from Niagara Falls, four million cubic feet of water rushing over every minute. Truly, it deserved the term “awesome.”

In his vision of the risen Christ, John grasps for descriptions adequate to capture the sound of the voice speaking to him—a trumpet (Revelation 1:10), or rushing water (1:15) reminiscent of Ezekiel’s vision of the LORD (Ezekiel 43:2). The sight and sound of Christ overwhelmed him completely (1:17). This one like “a son of man” stands among seven golden lampstands, a truly awesome figure. What should we make of the robe and golden sash (1:13)?

The robe and sash recall the garments of Israel’s high priest (Exodus 28:2–4). Akin to the priest’s role, the risen Christ is the mediator between God and man. The phrase “like a son of man” echoes Daniel’s vision, particularly 7:9–13. Like the figure Daniel saw, the figure facing John possesses “authority, glory and sovereign power” (Daniel 7:14). This vision of the divine Christ depicts Him as He truly is: awesome. Fully divine.

During the Christmas season, we remember Christ as a newborn, humble and vulnerable. The swaddled baby Jesus, cooing to His parents and the shepherds, signaled salvation for all who believe. We celebrate His advent! But now we approach Him as the risen Lord, coming on the clouds with power, draped in gold, His voice roaring throughout all creation.