One of the most exciting and informative ways to study the attributes of Christ is by giving close attention to the various figurative descriptions of our Lord set forth in holy Writ. For example, the Son of God, our Messiah, is called: Bread (John 6:35), Judge (2 Tim. 4:8), Shepherd (John 10:14), Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), Vine (John 15:1), Light (John 1:7), Way – Truth – Life (John 14:6), Door (John 10:9), Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8), and Word (John 1:14). For every dedicated child of God, these terms, when understood properly, will add to our knowledge of Deity and increase our desire to know more of the One who gave His life a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6).
In this study, we will be considering Jesus – THE LAMB WHO IS A LION. We will introduce our topic by considering Revelation 5:1-14.
According to Revelation 5:1, John saw in the right hand of God “a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.” The book contained a message from God to man – a message that explained God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10-11). A strong angel then asks, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” (Rev. 5:2). “And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon” (Rev. 5:3).
As a result, John “wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (Rev. 5:4). But behold, an encouraging proclamation came forth out of heaven: “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Rev. 5:5). Then, as John looks up, he beholds that “in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6).
The Lamb – Who is worthy – then takes the book out of the right hand of God and the heavens rejoiced singing “a new song” (Rev. 5:7-10). And with a great voice the heavens declared, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12), and “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:13). In the following chapters of Revelation, we see the book being opened by the Lamb who is a Lion. Only the Lamb that is a Lion was worthy to open the book – the book that came from the hand of the Father.
The Lamb-Lion image is a wonderful paradox that gives us deeper insight into the only One who is able to bring salvation to man. That is why Peter avowed “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”
(Acts 4:12). A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement, but nonetheless true. Jesus truly is the Lamb who is a Lion!
Jesus is often referred to as a Lamb in the scriptures. When John the Baptizer saw Jesus coming to be baptized of him, he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Peter says, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Even in Old Testament times Jesus was spoken of as a lamb, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7). When we think of Jesus as the Lamb of God we can’t help but think of the supreme sacrifice He paid of the cruel cross for the sin of all mankind. The Lamb’s blood was shed for the remission of our sins (Matt. 26:28). Thus, Jesus as the Lamb implies that He is kind, longsuffering, loving, merciful, innocent and sacrificial.
Our Lord is also described as a Lion. Again, in heaven it was said, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Rev. 5:5). Jesus as the Lion fulfills the prophecy of old, for Jacob declares, “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:9-10). This long-expected descendant of Judah, Who would posses the strength of a lion and bear the scepter of rule over the people, came in the person of Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus as the Lion implies that He is King, has authority, and is fierce and powerful.
The idea of the Lamb who is a Lion can be understood and better appreciated when we consider how Paul asked us to view God, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). The scriptures teach that God is love (1 John. 4:8), and yet, He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). Inspiration also declares that God is merciful (Eph. 2:4), and yet, God is just (Rev. 15:3). The actions of Jesus, the Lamb who is a Lion, are seen in these inspired words of Paul who says that Jesus “will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath” (Rom. 2:6-8). Jesus is the Lamb who is a Lion!