Summary: Your view of Jesus (theology) determines your attitude in these times of crisis.
KNOWING JESUS IN TIMES OF CRISIS
I do not normally explain how or why a sermon is preached, but would take exception today. While in a prayer meeting last night, about 9.30 pm, following a house blessing, the Lord gave me this thought: “My people need to know how God is doing in times of crisis.” I rejected the idea at first because I have already prepared, and actually preached to the Saturday group, the message for that week. Beside, it was late, and my knee was in pain again, after standing in that cramped living room to pray. Of course, you know who always wins. Jesus.
What truths should I tell; what passage should I preach from? Even while we were in prayer, my mind was asking the Lord what to say and tell you this morning. The Lord then brought Revelation 5 to mind. Last night, I read through the chapter, studied it and found three wonderful truths that could encourage us in times like these.
These truths come to us from what John, the exiled pastor-apostle, as he saw Jesus. He sees a throne and someone sitting on it whom he does not even attempt to describe, but in his hand there is a scroll. There is writing on both sides of this scroll and it is sealed with seven seals. A call goes forth for someone to open the scroll, but no one is found who is able to open it. John understands the enormous significance of the scroll and begins to weep at the terrible calamity that he feels. But just then, he is told: “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.” John immediately turns to see this great lion that has just been described to him, but he does not see a lion. He sees a lamb. And not just any lamb, but one with death wounds. John can see the blood and the open wounds with which he has been inflicted.
What a shock it must have been for John to look for this great lion who would rip the seals with his great claws, only to see a small wounded lamb. But it is the lamb who walks up to the One seated on the throne and takes the scroll. And in the subsequent chapters, as he opens the seals, scenes come forth that set in motion the events of the final days of earth’s history. When these events are released by the Lamb, they rush forth with power and fury, and all the host of heaven fall on their faces as they worship the Lamb. It is an incredible and astonishing scene.
A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. Here is a paradox. How can a lion be a lamb? The two are opposites. One is the hunter and the other the prey. One is placed in a cage with iron bars; the other in a petting zoo. We have all heard of an oxymoron. It is where seemingly contradictory terms are combined. It is an oxymoron to talk about jumbo shrimp, fresh frozen food, or a holy war. We talk about a cool heat, or a deafening silence. A lion-like lamb is an oxymoron. The terms do not belong together — except in heaven. Here the lion is the lamb. His power was found in his death, because with his death he purchased the souls of people, and he was thereby made worthy to open the scroll.
What is the meaning of this strange imagery which introduces the unleashing of end-time events? The first thing that this tells us is that we can rest in the fact that: God’s strength is disguised as weakness. The secret to God’s great strength is in his apparent weakness. Look at the Lamb of God dying on the cross. Was there ever any greater appearance of weakness on the part of God? They taunted him and said, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:40). The irony was that he was able to come down from the cross, but chose not to. What God was doing was the most powerful act that he would ever perform. Greater than the creation of the world, and greater than bringing the world to an end, Christ’s redemptive act on the cross was God at work in his greatest hour. His strength was hidden, but it was God’s most powerful moment. In this humble act of God, the devil was shamed and robbed of his power. We will never know, this side of heaven, what terrible struggles took place in the spiritual world between Palm Sunday and Easter morning. But one thing we do know: the lamb became a lion.