January 23, 2016

The Lion Who Is a Lamb

Revelation 5:1-14

See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” . . . Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain. . . .

—  Revelation 5:5-6

When Jacob the patriarch was an old man, he gathered his twelve sons together and gave each one a blessing—and in some cases a warning. Interestingly, he compared several of his sons to animals that fit their character: Judah, a lion no one would dare to rouse; Issachar, a stubborn donkey; Dan, a snake waiting to strike; Naphtali, a doe that bears beautiful fawns; and Benjamin, a ravenous wolf (see Genesis 49).

Moved by the Spirit of God, Jacob also prophesied that the Messiah would be born of the tribe of Judah: “The scepter will not depart from Judah . . . until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his” (Genesis 49:10). So the Messiah came to be called “The Lion of the tribe of Judah.”

But Jesus the Messiah was also likened to a lamb. John the Baptist said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus was a sacrificial lamb, whose blood would take away the sins of people from all nations. And people from all nations would learn to obey him.

When Jesus, in anger, drove the moneychangers from the temple, he was a lion. When he hung, uncomplaining, on the cross, he was a lamb. What a perfect union of opposites in our Lord—and yet without contradiction!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for ruling as a lion and for suffering, in our place, as a lamb. You cover all the bases for us, and we praise your name. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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