Summary: Considering the way that Jesus is both the powerful Lion and the lowly Lamb
1. Text: Revelation 5:5-6, et al
Steel and velvet – those are the qualities of a balanced man, says one writer. Like steel, he’s firm and well-tempered; he provides his family with security and raises the admiration of those around him. Still, like soft velvet, he has sensitivity and gentleness that is caring of others and protects those who need it.
According to Carl Sandberg, Abraham Lincoln was such a man. Speaking of his steel side he writes:
“He commanded the most powerful armies till then assembled in modern warfare; … he abolished the right of habeas corpus; he directed politically and spiritually the wild, massive, turbulent forces let loose in the civil war. …failing to get action, as chief executive having war powers, he issued the paper by which he declared the slaves to be free under ‘military necessity.’”
And at the same time, Lincoln is remembered for his gentleness:
“often with nothing to say, he said nothing, slept not at all and on occasions was seen to weep in a way that made weeping appropriate, decent, majestic. …a…man heard him say, ‘Voorhees, don’t it seem strange to you that I, who could never so much as cut off the head of a chicken, should be elected or selected, into the midst of all this blood?’”
Occasionally, we run across the stories of such people. Some of them have been real shapers of society – like Lincoln. All of them are showing the qualities of Jesus that we’re going to look at this morning – qualities of the Lion and the Lamb.
Both animals are used a lot in the Bible to symbolize certain qualities.
Take lions, for instance. Few animals were more respected and feared in Old Testament days. Lions symbolized power, especially the kind that makes us scared. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Amos all use a lion to symbolize God’s power at war.
"As a lion growls, a great lion over his prey-- and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against him, he is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor-- so the LORD Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights.” Isaiah 31:4
“The lion has roared-- who will not fear? The Sovereign LORD has spoken-- who can but prophesy?” Amos 3:8
It shouldn’t surprise us too much for the OT to give us this snapshot of Jesus that looks strangely like a lion.
Each of the tribes of Israel had a standard – a picture-symbol, that stood for their tribe. We have them too – their called logos! They put it on some kind banner and raised it in the Israelite camp to mark where their tribe was. Judah took the lion as its standard, with the motto: “Rise up, Jehovah, and let Your enemies be scattered!”
It was fitting that Judah would use the King among the beasts as their symbol. They were the tribe of kings in Israel. It was from Judah that the earthly parents of Jesus would descend.
C.S. Lewis took this snapshot of Jesus and used it to create the principle character in his imaginative book The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. In a memorable scene, the children are learning for the first time about Aslan, the character that depicts Jesus. (read, or show video):
“Is, is he a man?” Asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not, I tell you he is the King of the wood and he son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the lion, the great lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
The children do meet Aslan, and sure enough, His very presence is nothing to be taken lightly:
“As for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn’t know what to do or say when they saw him. People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan’s face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn’t look at him and went all trembly.”