“5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”6 Then I 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…” Rev. ch.5:5-6
The author of Revelation, the beloved disciple John, when seeing Jesus in his vision, reveals a nature of Christ by his Heavenly dwelling. An aspect that speaks to who Jesus is, the Revelation depicts him as both a lion and a lamb. Just as the writer of Hebrews depicts him as a king and priest, or the Gospels as son of God and son of man; John shows another dualistic view of Christ in heaven. The beginning chapter unfolds in a dramatic fashion. The One seated on the throne holds a scroll with seven seals. An angel proclaims, “who is worthy to break the seals and who is able to open the scroll?” Out of the entire heavenly realm no one can, out of the Earthly realm, and under the Earth, no one can. Hope, for John, begins to dwindle and he starts to cry. The entire universe, all living creatures, beholds the question from this angel and no one can do what the angel asks. However, verse five introduces one who can. He is the messiah, the Christ.
What is interesting is the comparison between John (Earthly being) and the elder (Heavenly being) sees. In verse five, when the elder comforts John, he reveals to him the one who can break the scroll as the Lion of Judah, the Root of David. In verse six, as John turns his gaze on this lion, what he sees is a slain lamb! To the elder, (heavenly) he is revealed as a Lion to John, (earthly) he is revealed as a lamb. The unique reality of Jesus’ nature is that he is both heavenly and earthly. He is a lion, royal, honorable, and a conqueror. He is a lamb, peaceful, patient, and sacrificial.
In verse five, John uses the word einkesen to describe what the lion has done. The Greek definition is to win in a battle. Meaning, the lion, as a conqueror, won the battle with death. As far back as Genesis 49: 9-10 Jesus’ victory was spoken by Jacob to his son Judah.
“Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
God, being a God out of time, works all things in His time. This word spoken to Judah came to fruition when Christ battled and defeated death. This victory comes in the state of a lamb. Christ coming down to earth as a battling lion sets his jaw to the cross as a lamb. To win the battle, Christ has to lose. Not just lose, but as John depicts with his word of choice in verse six, esphagmenon; meaning to be maimed violently.
This is the paradox of Jesus. Being both a royal lion and a sacrificing lamb, he is able to unite the heavenly realm with the earthly one. The lion shows up when there is grief and turmoil. When John’s heart weeps, because no one can accomplish the task set by the one on the throne, it is then, that Jesus shows up as a Lion; with all rights and power to accomplish the impossible. Hope has come, heaven has come to earth! Jesus understands to accomplish this he has to surrender. Evil and sin exist, because it has a means for resistance. To put up arms to evil, is to add fuel to the fire. Jesus instead approaches evil by not putting up arms, but by open arms. Being consumed with evil it inevitably kills Jesus. However, evil has no place to go but the grave and in that place, Christ left it. When Jesus came out of the grave he left sin behind, buried by his blood. Jesus conquered by being conquered. He loved when hate reined. He inherited by giving away. Christ became victorious by being a lamb of sacrifice and conquering as a lion.
Now Christ has asked us to do what he has done. Sin and death has been defeated, the verdict is out. Guilty! Yet the sentence has not been carried out yet, Christ has not returned. Evil still moves even thou it knows its own outcome. Jesus asks us to not fight this evil, but to become like him. Jesus asks us to know we are lions of heaven inheritors of the Kingdom, yet be like lambs of this earth, suffering for his name. The truth of Christianity is not wrapped in abundance and prosperity. It is the tension of living the heavenly life here on earth. Being able to find comfort in suffering and knowing in the midst of that pain we are victorious. Christ has asked us to follow him. To carry our cross leaving all things behind. We ought to live with a lion’s hearts and walk this earth with the feet of lambs.