Today is Sunday, Easter Sunday. 

On Friday we looked at Jesus as the paschal lamb who died as a sacrifice, who died to free us from death.

Today is another picture, this time from the end of the Bible, in the Revelation by God to John.

Revelation 5:5

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

After giving us a description of the scroll, an angel proclaims with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” John begins to despair when no one comes forth to answer the angel’s challenge. One of the 24 elders encourages John to “weep no more,” and points out that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has come to take and open the scroll.

Madame Guyon, a French Christian mystic from the 17th Century wrote: one of the elders comforts John and tells him not to weep because the strong and victorious lion of the tribe of Judah, that immortal root of David, has succeeded in opening the book.[1]

The Lion of the tribe of Judah is obviously a reference to Christ. As the Lion of Judah, Jesus fulfils the prophecy of Genesis 49:9 and is the Messiah who would come from the tribe of Judah.

"Judah is a lion's whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse?  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.…

The lion is also a symbol of the Messiah in the extra biblical book of 2 Esdras 12:31, so it may well have been an accepted Messianic designation at that time[2]

The image of the lion is meant to convey kingship. Jesus is worthy to receive and open the scroll because he is the King of God’s people.

Here is an image we understand concerning power - The lion.  The MGM lion, The British lion, the lion on the badge of the Peugeot, the lion on the badge of Holdens.

The lion – a mighty and strong beast, the king of the jungle.

We know also that the devil is described as lion in 2 Peter 5:8

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

So surely Jesus would return as one even greater – a bigger, more ferocious lion.

[video clip – aslan resurrection scene]

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, went out as the sacrificial Lamb, but soon will return as the Lion of Judah to judge the world.

This is an image we can get our teeth into.  Jesus returning in power.  Aslan coming back from death and taking on the world, in power, defeating the White Witch and her minions.

But the next verse crushes our thoughts of power in those worldly terms.

Revelation 5:6 Then I [looked and] saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.

John looked to see the lion and instead he saw a lamb!

The Lion that is of the tribe of Judah points to his royal powers but instead of the victorious lion, John saw a lamb which appeared to have been slain. The striking paradox shows that the lion of Judah overcame when he offered himself in lamb-like submission as the perfect sacrifice for sin[3]

Only the Kingdom of heaven would dare to use as its symbol of might, not the lion for which John was looking but the helpless lamb, and at that, a slain lamb.[4]

Here we were looking for power on our terms in a marauding lion but we find power in the form of a dead sheep.

Yet in the economy of God’s kingdom, as the Lamb of God, Jesus is the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin. And as that sacrifice, he overcomes the world.

The Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered sin (Hebrews 1:3

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

And in 1 Corinthians 15:56

 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered death .2 Timothy 1:10

it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

The Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered Satan. Hebrews 2:14

he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—

And he did it when he took the role of a Lamb and died.[5]

Jesus is both the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb who was slain. The Lion and the Lamb are descriptions of two aspects of the nature of Christ.

It is in this tension between lion and lamb that Christ is.  The lion is mentioned once, the lamb continually – 29 times in the book of Revelation.

The lamb that was slain is the focus, that is the seat of power.

Revelation 5:11-12

 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Let’s think about the power of this slain lamb of God.

A slain lamb cannot stand, but this slain lamb stands.

Jesus, the Lamb had allowed Himself to be spit upon, tortured, and killed — all for the sake of paying for our sins.  When Jesus let them beat His head and crown Him with thorns, it was not because He was weak and helpless. It was not because He was everyone’s doormat.

It is holy, almighty power that gives Jesus the ability to endure the mockery and insults of mere men, who have no real power over anything.   

Jesus is keeping His wounds as an eternal witness. He is alive and standing in all His glorious power over death, sin, and the devil. In His power, He shows His wounds.  They are real and they are for us.  They are an eternal witness of His love and forgiveness — something we can always find comfort in, because it means we are loved.[6]

1 Peter 1:18-19

 

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed … but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Through the example of other-worldly power, the power that comes from the example of Jesus, not the power that comes from a roaring vicious lion that the world pursues, we will overcome the world. We will be more than conquerors.

Death is defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  If death is defeated, then everything else can be defeated through his power, the power of the slain lamb of God.

As mankind’s Redeemer, who is victorious over sin, death, and all evil forces, the living Lamb now sits on his throne as the unrivalled, respected, ruler of all; as the Lion he occupies full authority reserved for the Lion of Judah, David’s heir.

Ultimately all of earth’s history will find its fulfilment in this Lion and Lamb of whom it is said, “The kingdoms of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

The lion and lamb metaphors point to the fact that Christ is both the Ruler of all and man’s Redeemer.[7]

This imagery gives hope and confidence to us who believe. It means we may through the power of the Holy Spirit exhibit lion-like courage together with lamb-like following and dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 13:20-21

“May the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, equip you with every good thing to do his will, working in us what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

 





[1] Madame Guyon Christ our Revelation 36

[2] Leon Morris Revelation 95

[3] Geoffrey Wilson Revelation 60

[4] Morris 96

[5] http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/christ-the-lion-and-the-lamb

[6] https://123hallelujah.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/a-lamb-standing-as-if-slain/

[7] https://bible.org/article/lion-and-lamb-metaphors-divine-human-relationships