In the fifth chapter of Revelation John sees a vision of God holding a seven-sealed scroll and an angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seal?”
John is urgent in the matter. He quickly takes note that no creature in all the world, whether visible or invisible, is worthy to open the book. He becomes so desperate that be begins to weep. But one of the elders says to him,
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.
Listen to those words: “The lion… has conquered.” These are expressions of military might and power. They conjure images of strength and overcoming greatness.
But then the most curious thing happens. John looks in the direction of the throne and sees not a lion but a lamb. And not just any old lamb, but a lamb beaten and bloodied and covered in filth, looking “as though it had been slain.”
The mystery, of course, is that the lion is the lamb.
The one who breaks the seal and opens the book is the lamb. The one before whom the living creatures and elders fall down is the lamb. The one who is praised with a new song and declared worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing is… you guessed it, the lamb.
No more in the chapter is there any mention of the lion. At first the lion is proclaimed worthy, but then all we see or hear mention of is the Lamb that was slain. Interesting, is it not?
To me this speaks overwhelmingly of that incredible oxymoron known in scripture as “the power of the cross.”
When one thinks of a cross, worse yet of a man or woman dying on a cross, the last thing that comes to mind is power. Rather we think of weakness, defeat, humiliation, tragedy. Not so with Jesus Christ. In the case of our Lord we find redemption, healing, the transformation of suffering, and without a doubt, great power. But power of a different kind than we are apt of thinking.
The Lion of the tribe of Judah overcame the world, but he did not do it with a sword. He took no man’s life but laid down His own. And through such active, non-violent resistance to the evil powers of this age, the Lamb that was slain disarmed principalities and powers and made an open show of them through the foolishness of his cross. He “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and… made them a kingdom and priests to our God” (Rev. 5:9,10).
So now let us follow Him wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4)!