And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5
It would be appropriate for some to argue that including this in our list is suspect because there is only one verse in the Scripture that names Jesus as Lion. But if one verse does so, then that is sufficient, for if God says something, even if it is once, it is still completely true and worthy of our contemplation. The verse is found in Revelation and the context is that John is weeping loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals. Chapter 4 had given us the amazing and awesome vision of the throne in heaven before which the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders are in worship. It is here that we hear “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power…” Pretty knee-buckling things. We are then introduced to the scroll that is going to have a prominent role throughout a good portion of Revelation. It is held in the right hand of God and it is sealed with seven seals. The Lion has conquered, and John is therefore comforted because it is the Lion who is worthy to open the seven seals.
This is where it gets interesting.
Much of the rest of Revelation talks about the opening of those seals and the judgment that comes from them, including the seven trumpets, the three woes, the seven plagues, the seven bowls… all of this stems from the opening of the seals of the scroll. But the image and description of the One who opens the seals changes from Lion to Lamb. This is introduced to us immediately after our verse above. When John looks to see the Lion of Judah, he instead sees “a Lamb standing as though it had been slain.” It is the Lamb, from this point on, who opens each of the seals.
But what does this all mean? We have already dealt with Jesus being called the Lamb, but what does it mean that He should be called Lion? And why is there such a close association between the Lion and the Lamb?
Well, let’s look at what we are given here. Our verse tells us that Jesus is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David”. To understand this, we must go back to Genesis 49, where we find Jacob giving a blessing to each of his sons, the twelve tribes of Israel. In those blessings we find references to their past actions and a prophetic announcement of their future, some of which are difficult to interpret. But the prophecy concerning Judah is clearly one of royalty, a kingship that points forward to David and ultimately to Christ. Jacob’s blessing includes something delightful for us: “Judah is a lion’s cub…” for lion is a symbol of royalty.
So, John is weeping because no one is found worthy to open the seals of the scroll and begin the long awaiting judgment and restoration of all things. And it is the Lion, the King, who is found worthy to do so. Yet the Lion, the King, is the one who laid down His life for His own. He is both the Lion and the Lamb who was slain.
It is easy to focus only on the Lamb and quickly forget that Jesus is the King of Kings. He is a lion who will bring fierce judgment. He holds the divine scepter. He will rule and reign forever. The folly of men who rebel against Him and set up their own laws and designs and boast of mighty things will, in the end, be destroyed by the Lion of Judah. Yet, it is this all-powerful, mighty Lion who was willing to lay that all aside because of His love and zeal for His people.
I am reminded of the great Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis where the Lion, Aslan, gave up his life, to be slain on the Stone Table, in exchange for the unworthy Edmund. By doing so, he freed the captives and overcame the curse of the White Witch.
Lewis’ allegory, was, of course, pointing us to Christ, who is the Lion and the Lamb who was slain. The Lion, who set aside His royal robes to be the sacrifice that would atone for our sins. The Lion, who will one day bring an end to all evil and suffering. The Lion, who said “It is finished” will return to finish it all and restore everything to its glorious future.
Take heart, dear friends, when it seems as if evil is gaining the upper hand. It will not last. It will not prevail. It will bow its knee to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Lion.
Aslan is on the move.
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