Summary: The figure of a lion is fitting to describe the true nature of our Lord and inspires us to commit our lives to Him.
LION OF JUDAH
In 1930, Haile Selassie became the Emperor of Ethiopia. The Christian ruler was the 111th emperor in succession of King Solomon. Upon assuming power, Selassie sought to modernize the nation. He built schools and universities, established newspapers, expanded electricity and telephone service and increased public health services. Then in October 1935, Italian forces under orders from Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia. Selassie’s forces were no match for the Italian army and in May, 1936, he went into exile. He appeared for help to the League of Nations, saying, "apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other. Should it happen that a strong government finds it may, with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment."
The League did not help, and for the next five years Selassie remained in Britain trying to garner world support against Italy with little results.
One day, British field marshal Sir William Edmund Ironside asked Selassie what he was going to do now? Selassie, known as "The Lion of Judah" replied: "After all, there is God!" In May of 1941, Selassie’s faith in the power of God was rewarded as he re-entered Ethiopia and remained Emperor until 1974.
But I know of another, far greater "Lion of Judah." It is the One written of by John the Revelator. In Meredith’s "Book of Bible Lists," it is stated that there are 39 names attributed to Jesus, found in the New Testament. One of these is "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" (Rev 5:5).
The central figure in C.S. Lewis’ "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is Aslan the lion. He is the true ruler of the mystical land called Narnia. Who can doubt that Lewis has Christ in mind? Aslan fights the White Witch (Satan) and saves Narnia from perpetual darkness. He sacrifices his life for the people of Narnia, hence becoming, in a sense, a Lamb who takes away the curse and defeats Narnia’s ancient foe--not unlike John’s description in Revelation 5:6. In some reards, it almost appears as though Lewis sat with the New Testament open, especially the book of Revelation, as he penned this story.
Aslan, was just this wonderful, magical lion, the epitome of goodness--full of love (a type of Christ). When Susan meets Aslan, that’s when she really believes in Narnia and kind of gets a grip that things are going to be okay. Aslan really serves as a symbol of hope--especailly when he rises from the dead!
Of all the images presented in the Bible for Christ, the lion is the most magnificent. The title, "Lion of Judah" goes back to Jacob’s final blessing of his sons before his death. In that blessing he calls Judah "a lion’s whelp" (Genesis 49:9). If Judah himself is a lion’s whelp, it is fitting to call the greatest member of the tribe of of Judah "The Lion of Judah."
In the books written between the Testaments, this became a messianic title. 2 Esdras speaks of the figure of a lion and says: "This is the Annointed One, that is the Messiah" (2 Esdras 12:31). The strength of the lion and his undoubted place as king of beasts make him a fitting emblem of the all-powerful Messiah who the Jews and Christians await.
I find it extremely fascinating that this title of "lion" is also attributed to the devil as well. I Peter 5:8: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Consider the contrasting picture here. Satan looks for weak ones to devour--those weak and vunerable; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He wants to destroy their testimony, their faith, their confidence in God. The Lord Jesus, the "Lion of Judah" also looks for the weak---not to devour but to strengthen, encourage, and empower. One is roaring in intimidating fashion, while the other speaks words of peace and assurance.
Let’s move closer to this Lion whose mane flows in the wind, and whose muscles bulge with superiority. Let’s notice what it is that sets Him apart.
1. MAJESTY. This is seen in His rebuke of the wind and waves. The message is clear. Whatever strikes fear into our lives can be banished by one word from the Savior. He is majestic in His love and mercy as well.
John Ortberg, in "Love Beyond Reason," tells of an experience he had as a lad: "I knew something of the upside and downside of glory. I grew up a Chicago Cubs fan in the late 1960’s. Their entire infield made the all-star team one year. Randy Hundley, the catcher, was a personal favorite.