The Lion and the Lamb

I am bothered.

I’m currently taking a class on Revelation and there is one image that has stuck out to me. In the midst of all of the symbolism, the Old Testament references, and all of the insane imagery that Revelation uses there is one moment that I think sums up everything about this life I’ve chosen in Christ.

Revelation 5:1-7 (ESV):

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. As I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 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.’

 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.”

John is weeping because no one is able to open the scroll, which scholars believe is a symbol of God’s plan of redemption. Yet in the midst of his sorrow one of the elders around the throne calls out and declares that all is well, the Lion of the tribe of Judah can open the scroll! The Lion, the powerful kingly and conquering Messiah had arrived. All would be well because the Lion of Judah would decimate the enemies of His people and end suffering.

Excited at this prospect, John probably swung his head around sharply in order to catch a glimpse of this magnificent defender and conqueror.

Instead of a lion, however, he saw a slaughtered lamb.

The slaughtered Lamb is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of the house of David, the Messiah, and the conquering King.

You see, Jesus did not come to conquer with violence. He did not come to bring glory to himself and his people through blood and death. He conquers through suffering. He conquered through dying.

The implications of this are heavy and hard because our idea of glory in this life is not what the Bible makes glory out to be in the Kingdom of God. We conquer through suffering. We begin to model the Kingdom of God when we sacrifice ourselves humbly.

While evil still exists and Christ is still to come again, our call is to not glorify ourselves and our actions. We’re not called to prideful boasting in our own holiness. We also do not get a free pass from the suffering of the world just because we believe what we believe. We are called to pick up our cross daily, die to ourselves, and engage with the world from a place of humility because that is the model our savior laid out for us.

So now I’m bothered because this is both a beautiful revelation and a hard truth to swallow. There is no gospel of prosperity, Deuteronomistic theology holds no ground. We will not achieve glory, fame, and riches in this life. Rather, we will have to pour ourselves out like Jesus did and realize that we are here to serve even in our suffering.