Summary: Jesus is the great Lion King who cannot be caged or ignored. He comes into your life with awesome power and majestic love.
THE ORIGINAL LION-KING
This Christmas season we have been using the children’s story of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe as a means of illuminating the life and mission of Jesus. The author of the book, C. S. Lewis, was a dynamic and prolific Christian writer. He created a magical land called Narnia that is discovered by four children. Narnia is a land in conflict, populated with all types of talking animal and mythical characters, but also a land on tip-toe in hopeful anticipation for the coming of Aslan - the great lion king of Narnia who will put everything back together as it is supposed to be.
It is easy to see why C. S. Lewis used the lion as the image for Jesus Christ in his novels. The lion is almost a universal archetype of power and majesty. Archeologists have found depiction’s of majestic lions in the pottery, jewelry, mythology and architecture of almost all ancient middle-eastern cultures. From Egyptian hieroglyphics to Aesop’s fables lions were portrayed as symbols of strength and courage. The mysterious Sphinx has the body of a lion. The ancient world even saw the shape of a lion in the stars, in the constellation called Leo.
But it wasn’t just the pagan cultures that recognized the majesty of the lion. From the earliest pages in the Bible the lion was also seen as an important symbol. In Genesis 49:9 the lion is used to describe the future Messiah and the tribe of Judah and his royal line, out of which the Messiah would come. Lions were everywhere in the great Jerusalem temple built by Solomon - in the art and statues and columns. (Ezekial 1:10, 41:19, 1 Kings 7:29, 36). Even the armrests of Solomon’s throne were shaped like crouching lions. (1 Kings 10:19, 2 Chronicles 9:18). Like a funnel narrowing its focus the Old Testament becomes more specific about this Lion of Judah the closer we get to the time of the birth of Jesus. But he is not a cute, cuddly lion. No. Especially for the prophets this is a roaring lion coming to display the terrifying power of God in judgment (Jeremiah 49:19).
And then in the New Testament book of Revelation chapter 5 we see one of the most dramatic images of Jesus as the great Lion - King. People get confused by the book of Revelation usually because they’re not familiar with the images, symbols and prophecies of the Old Testament. The main purpose of the book of Revelation is to give us information about Jesus after his resurrection, after he ascends to the right hand of the Father in heaven. The book opens with this declaration in 1:1: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show his servants what must soon take place." A revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the central character of the book of Revelation; not predictions about the future, when or where or how things might happen. Its purpose is to give us a vision of the Risen Savior.
After all, most of us carry around a mental picture of Jesus that comes from the Gospel stories. At Christmas we think of him in the manger surrounded by cows and sheep and adoring wise men. We think of him as a grown man walking the roads with his disciples, healing the multitudes, preaching and teaching. Or we think of Christ on the cross bearing our sin. That’s how Jesus was before his death and resurrection. Revelation shows us what Jesus is now, at this very moment, as the exalted Christ in heaven. And it is quite a different picture.
As chapter five opens John has been witnessing a scene of breath-taking beauty and awesome holiness and worship in the very throne room of God. But now there is a dramatic pause. God is ready to bring judgment on the earth that has rejected him for so long. Like Aslan coming to the land of Narnia, the time has come for God to intervene in human affairs in a final way through the Messianic judgment that will once and for all establish the Kingdom of God. Verse 1 tells us the judgment of God is written on a scroll. In ancient times important documents were written on both sides of a parchment. Seven witnesses were required for a valid legal document, like a will. Each witness had their own wax seal and each had to be present to break the seal when the document was read. So verse 2 asks: "Who is worthy to break the seal and open the scroll?" No one answers. There is no one worthy to break the seals, no one worthy to carry out God’s grand purpose. There is a tremendous sense of tension and anticipation. John is overwhelmed by the silence. He says, "I wept and wept..." Powerful tension. Then one of the elders makes an announcement. I wonder if it wasn’t Judah himself. Verse 5 "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."