The Lion and the Lamb (John 1:29, Revelation 5:5)
Below we see two “Behold’s”
1. John 1:29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
2. Revelation 5:5 “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.”
In these 2 beholds lies the complete gospel message and it is ‘Christ crucified’. This is the most important message of our entire lives. In fact this is why the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Likewise this needs to be the absolute focal point of our lives, whether it is preaching the word, teaching the word, living the word. May it be Christ that drives our daily living.
My question to you today is, what is the picture in your mind when you think of Jesus Christ? We often see paintings of Jesus Christ either holding a lamb, walking with a lamb on his shoulder, sitting with children around him, hanging on a cross, the risen lord with the disciples. What is it that you often picture when you think of Jesus.
This morning my aim is to paint a picture of Jesus from the scriptures that he is both the Lamb of God who was sacrificed on the cross for the sins of the world and at the same time, that he is the Lion of Judah, the king of kings with all authority, might and power.
When John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who comes to take away this sin of the world, this is probably one of the sweetest words that anyone could speak out of their mouths. John the Baptist here is proclaiming that this is ‘THE’ lamb of God – who is to take away the sins of the world. Up to this very point, hundreds of lambs and bulls and goats have been sacrificed but none of them could fully take away the sins of the world. It was a temporary sacrifice and wasn’t fully sufficient. But this ‘LAMB’, the lamb that is Christ Jesus, the one and only lamb who could take away the sin of the world. This is exciting news, this is the Messiah, the savior of the world.
In this one proclamation what we see is two things. Firstly there is a problem. It is called “sin”. Secondly that breadth of the message. That this Lamb of God, is He who takes away the sin of the world. He did not come only for the Israel but came for the entire world.
The theme of the ‘Lamb’ of God can be seen right through the Bible. This message of redemption shows us the heart of a loving God even before creation itself. A provision was made even before the foundation of the world was laid: 1 Peter 1:18-20 “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
The reason I say this is to show show you that we worship a God who is in total control and there is no Plan B. There is a single plan and a single purpose because the King of Kings is in absolute control.
When you read through the Old Testament you see prophetic pictures and references to the coming Lamb of God scattered throughout. The entire Bible tells us the story of Jesus Christ. This is why you hear Jesus speaking and saying things like:
- Abraham rejoiced at seeing my day or,
- Moses wrote of me or,
- David called me LORD,
- Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21)
- You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are scriptures that testify about me (John 3:19)
Notice here that this lamb is from everlasting to everlasting. He came into the world as a lamb, but he is the eternal word. There are hereby two truths that we see of the person of Christ, the Lamb of God. We see in the Bible that Jesus is both:
- Both the Son of God and the Son of Man
- He is both the resurrection and the life
- He is the Alpha and Omega
- He is the first and the last
- He is the suffering Servant and the Conquering King
- and He is the lion and the lamb. Amen.
Lets go back to our key verses today to look at 3 key points that is going to give us a scriptural picture of Christ for you and me.
1. The Problem – Sin – What is sin such a big problem in the first place?
2. The Solution – The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
3. The Victory – The Lion of the tribe of Judah, to root of Jesse, who has conquered.
1. The Problem – Sin
Firstly lets answer the question why do we need a sacrifice in the first place. Why does anyone have to die for the sins of every person and why does sin separate us from God? If Jesus is God then it means that He can do anything. Why not just decide to forgive everyone’s sin – rather than a gruesome death on the cross. Isn’t that a bit of overkill? It all sounds like a big drama!!
You might think to yourself that you are a fairly decent guy or girl, you don’t go out of the way to hurt anyone else. You try do a lot of good and support some good causes and doing your best to live a life that is good. Friends, the Bible tells us that this is still not good enough and if you have fallen in one point of the law then it is as though you have broken all of the law. This is the affect of sin. In fact James 2:10 says “Whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” This is why sin is such a big problem. It separates you from God regardless of how small or big it is.
You may be a good person, but your are not perfect. Christ was perfect. In fact in Mark 10:17-18 the rich young man calls Jesus “good teacher” and Jesus responds in this way saying “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus here is revealing his deity, that He is perfect, that He is truly God and that He is the Messiah, because Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world because He is unblemished and perfect and God. Only God is perfect.
The reason that sin is such a big problem is because God’s justice is foundational to the way He governs the universe and everything in it. Psalm 89:14 says “Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of your throne;” What this means is that the Lord is always fair in His dealings and always does what is right. Just as God is just in all His ways. God must maintain His absolute justice by punishing all sin. An unjust God would not be God at all.
So now comes the question If God is a just God and He must punish all sin to maintain His absolute justice, then how can He forgive sinners? Let us take a human judge in our court systems for example. If the judge started to pardon murderers and thieves etc, we’d say, “Wait a minute! This is horrible! He is not upholding any justice.” So it is the same with God who is the true judge. The question remains, How can a holy God be just if He pardons guilty sinners? How can He be a God of love who shows mercy and yet be a righteous God of justice? The answer takes us back to John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. Amen!!!
In the midst of hopelessness, in the midst of slavery to sin and death God Himself took on the form of man because only He could be the perfect sacrifice and place His justice and wrath on Him, that we might be made right before God. This is only possible because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed on us and there is nothing we can every do to attain this on our own merits.
This is why Jesus Christ is both the Lion and the Lamb. He is a God of love who shows abundant grace and mercy as the Lamb, but at the same time he is the Lion of Judah who exercises His righteousness and Justice and must punish sin.
The sacrificial death of Jesus satisfied God’s wrath and displays His justice in justifying sinners who have faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:25-26). Christ was the propitiation for our sins.
So in order to understand this, we need to know what sin is – what is the definition of sin. Sin in the Bible is described as transgression against the law of God. 1 John 3:4 says “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”
That is what happened in the Garden of Eden when sin first entered into mankind. It was through disobedience to the command of God – not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In fact sin had its beginning with Lucifer who desired to be higher than God. It all begins with a desire as it says in James 1:15 saying “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
The Bible tells us that the result of this disobedience is sin and the consequence of sin is death. A spiritual death, a physical death and and eternal death which is separation from God. Sin causes separation from God. Isaiah 59:2 says “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
Again this is so because of the character of God. Our God is not only a righteous and just God, but He is also a ‘Holy God’ and cannot stand sin. The Psalmist (Psalm 5:4) describes God’s hatred for sin, saying that God does not take pleasure in wickedness, and no evil dwells with him. This is so because God is Holy and his holiness is the most exalted of all his attributes. As we read in Isaiah 6:3 God is called “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” His holiness is the perfect example of His moral perfection and His absolute freedom from any kind of blemish. He is also a just God, and a righteous God. If He is a just God then He must punish sin. A just and righteous judge would never let anyone walk free from their crime, and our crime is walking in disobedience to the law of God. If there is righteousness and justice in God, then He must punish sin, and the wages of sin is death. A spiritual death, a physical death and an eternal death of separation from God. Someone has to pay the price. Sin has held us captive to disobedience to God, captive to fear and death.
But there are also other reasons why God hates sin. God hates sin because he loves his people and wants to bless them. God hates sin because:
- It’s subtle deceitfulness which entices us to focus on worldly pleasure to the exclusion of God’s blessing.
- To pursue sin is to turn your back on the gifts of God. Find your pleasure in Christ. Psalm 16:11 says “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
- Finding you pleasure in anything else will keep you wanting. God wants to bless you and for you to walk in the fullness of all that He has prepared for a relationship with God that will glorify Him. Not for your own selfish needs, but one that honors and glorified Him. This is where true joy and pleasure lies.
So when John the Baptist declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” this is the hope for mankind. There is hope this morning Church. This is a great hope for the broken world, this is hope to a world who is hurting. There is so much pain, hopelessness, loneliness, addictions, relationship problems, etc and the root cause and problem of all of this is this small 3 letter word called “SIN” but with great implications. Sin is the problem and it has to be dealt with. God wants what is good for your life.
Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death,” and that sin separates us from God. The Bible also tells us that no one is righteous before God. When you read in Romans 3:23 it says “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. This is why being good is not good enough. Perfection is the standard of God’s law and no man can attain this. Only the true Lamb of God can, the God Man Jesus Christ.
2. The Solution – The Lamb
Why is Jesus called the Lamb of God, why not just say “Jesus the Messiah who takes away the sin of the world?” The idea of the Lamb of God is a strand that runs throughout redemptive history. We can trace it all the way back to Adam and Eve. It is this lamb, this picture that points toward the real substitutionary sacrifice that is to be Jesus Christ. But let us begin by looking at Genesis 22 when God called Abraham to go to Mount Moriah and offer his son Issac as a sacrifice. Abraham, in complete obedience to God was prepared to do exactly as God had asked. As Abraham was about to sacrifice Issac, God stopped Him saying in Genesis 22:12 “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” As this happened, we continue to read that at this moment there was a ram caught in the thicket by the horns. We see here that God provided this ram as a sacrificial substitute (in place of) for Abraham’s son Issac. So this is the very idea, the ‘substitutionary sacrifice’ that underlines the atonement of Christ.
God had no intention of allowing Issac to die, instead he intended to test Abraham’s faith and demonstrate prophetically His intention to offer His own Son, Jesus Christ, on the same mountain area hundreds of years later. In fact when God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Issac and provided a ram in his place, Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide” – Jehovah Jireh. In fact in Gen 22:14 it says “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” This provision for the world was made through “the” lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. God indeed provided the lamb on the very same mountain, His own Son to be a sacrifice for the world, for it could only be possible through His death – pure and sinless he was a worthy sacrifice, a pleasing aroma to God.
Friends, God is your provider. Do not set your confidence in the world or the people of the world but place your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. As he became the one sacrifice for all, making provision for your sin and death, in the same way He is able to keep you and sustain you as you pass through this world.
God does not require anything of us, that He Himself is not willing to do. On that mountain, God stopped Abraham from sacrificing His own Son in order to show the abundant love of God poured out for you and for me. He was the substitute for our sins.
As we continue to read a little bit further in redemptive history we arrive at the story of the Exodus in Exodus 12. Here we see Christ – the Lamb of God prefigured in the ‘Passover’. When God prepared to bring His final plague on the Egyptians, the death of every firstborn male of the Egyptians, including the crown prince of the Pharaoh, He instructed His people Israel to slay lambs without blemish and to spread the blood on their doorposts. God promised to pass over all of those houses where He saw the blood of the lambs on the doorposts. Just as the blood of those lambs caused the people of Israel to be spared from God’s wrath, the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ redeemed His people from the penalty that was due for their sins.
Christ is our Passover lamb. Through him and only him are we saved and made part of the family of God. This is why the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:7 says “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
This imagery in Genesis 22 and Exodus 12 continue in many other passages throughout the Old Testament leading to Christ who is ‘the’ Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
The Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God and this revelation is made to us through the Gospels. This is what the gospel reveals, proclaims and teaches. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. All the other lambs were only types as they could only point to the real lamb of God who is Christ Jesus. They could do nothing to deal with sin and they could not completely:
- Take away sin
- Appease God’s wrath
- Satisfy His justice
- Purge the conscience of guilt
- They could only point to Christ, they could only point to the Lamb who could fulfill all of these – the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is what needs to be understood. Almighty God in His infinite wisdom prepared a way for us to escape His wrath in way that does not violate His justice. It is only Christ alone the Lamb who could do this because:
- Christ alone is the Lamb that God provided (1 John 4:9-10 “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”)
- Christ alone is the Lamb that God himself sacrificed and offered (Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”)
- Christ alone is the Lamb that God accepted (Hebrews 1:1-13) and,
- Christ alone is the Lamb that God set forth in his covenant before the world began, and we see this message in types, in shadows and in prophecies of the Law in order that we recognize Him when he came. (Romans 3:24-26)
Friends, I hope you recognize Him today. My prayer is that you can accept Him, accept the free gift, a priceless and matchless gift which is the Son of God – the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. One sacrifice for all.
But friends, this is great price paid on the cross also came with a great victory. The victory is for Christ and the children of God. The very cross, where Christ died as the Lamb of God is the very cross that displays Him as the roaring Lion of Judah. Upon that cross he was victoriously defeated sin and death and bridged the gap between God and man so that we can once again walk in relationship and fellowship with God. What a great gift of God.
3. The Victory – The Lion of Judah
“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 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.”
Weep no more today. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered. Not only has he conquered sin and death. He is ruler and king of your life if you have accepted Him as Lord and Savior. What you cannot do in your weakness, the Lord is able to do in your life, so that it will glorify God. What are you struggling with today? What is it that you think you cannot do? Sometimes do you think you are not good enough? You think that there is nothing good that can come out of your life. Your life isn’t reaching anywhere and hopelessness all around. What are you going through? Is it sickness, or relationship, or addiction. Whatever it may be the Bible tells us the Jesus Christ is the Lion of Judah and has conquered!!!
You have got to stop ruling your own life. Hand it over to Jesus. Hand it to the Lion of Judah who has conquered.
This again is the fulfillment of prophecy where Jacob blesses Judah, and prophetically proclaims that it is through Judah that the Messiah will come. Genesis 49:9-10 “Judah is a lions 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 rulers staff from his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
What does it mean for you and for me. It means that:
- Jesus rose from the grave, defeating death and sin
- Jesus disarmed the devil
- Jesus has risen victoriously
- And we are awaiting His triumphal return to restore all things to himself.
What does the Lion symbolize? The Lion is symbolic of royalty, power, might and strength. It is the royal name, the Lion of Judah. The Lion that became the Lamb. It was not as though Jesus was first the Lamb, then became the lion overcoming sin and death, but it is just the opposite. It was the Lion that became the Lamb.
As you read in Revelation 1:1, Jesus is the first and the last, He is the one who holds the keys to death and Hades, He is the one on whose robe and thigh it is written “king of kings and lord of lords (1:18, 19:16)
This is the reason why Jesus is continually called the Lamb in the book of revelation. In-fact in the book of revelation, the royal name assigned to Jesus ‘The Lion of Judah’ is only used once, but the name ‘Lamb’ is used 24 times in 22 chapters. God always does the unexpected and crowning a lamb instead of a lion.This is the same in your life, he takes the weak and confounds the wise. As the word of God says:
- Not many of your were wise according to worldly standards
- Not many were powerful
- Not many were of noble birth
- God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise
- God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong
- God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
- So that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
In the same way God exalts the Lamb because the Lamb humbled Himself and became a man. This is the magnitude of this awe inspiring truth. God became man. The king became the servant. The Lion became the Lamb. And this is why every created being in heaven will be singing as it says in Revelation 5:13 “Too him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever.”
In conclusion, we have seen today that Jesus Christ is both the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world and at the same time He is the Lion of Judah who will rule with righteousness and Justice. He comes to rule, but at the same time he comes to gently carry his lamb. He is the king who is coming in judgment but at the same time He is the gentle lamb, dying for His people.
This is so beautifully summarized in Isaiah 40:10-11 saying “Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with the young.”
- This is the entirety of Christ, that He is the Lamb and at the same time the Lion of Judah.
- He is the Lamb that came dying for your sins yet He is the lion with all authority, might and power
- He is the bridegroom coming for his Church, His bride, yet he is the conquering kings who is coming with righteousness and justice in His hands.
Let us rejoice this morning, that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Make him Lord of your life this morning.