Summary: A communion sermon emphasizing the central theme of Jesus Christ’s atonement in our faith and life.
Theme: A communion sermon emphasizing the central theme of Jesus Christ’s atonement in our faith and life.
1Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" 3But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5Then one of the elders said to me, "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."
6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
So I was looking this week at a list of oxymorons. You know what those are; two words used together that actually mean something opposite or contrasting that, when used side-by-side, have a different meaning. Here are a few of my favorites:
• Liquid gas
• A Fine Mess
• Free trade
• Act Naturally
• Unbiased opinion
• Affordable housing
• Detailed summary
• Awfully good
• Random order
• Small crowd
And here is the one that troubles me the most … “Adult male.”
There is an oxymoron of sorts described for us in chapter 5. It relates to the central figure … not only of the chapter, not only of the book, but of our faith. It relates to Jesus Christ. There are actually a couple of declarations made about him that, when placed side by side, seem to contrast but actually give us a new and fuller understanding of our Lord.
The chapter begins with the scene in Heaven and with God the Creator on the throne. 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.
THE LION IS A LAMB
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. He is expecting to see Jesus, the Lion, tear the seals off the scroll with His great claws and reveal its contents.
IT IS IN THIS SCENE THAT WE SEE THE FIRST OF THE CONTRASTING IMAGES. HE DOES NOT SEE A LION … HE SEES A LAMB.
What a shock it must have been for John to look for this great lion only to see a lamb. In fact, the word used here for “lamb” is Greek the word reserved for a “pet lamb” … it is a lamb of complete innocence vulnerability.
This innocent lamb has death wounds. In fact, an accurate reading of Jesus’ description would be a slaughtered or slain lamb. It is very graphic and grotesque. John would have immediately associated this lamb with the Passover Lamb … it would certainly evoke the words of John the Baptist who, referring to Jesus as the one who would make atonement said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29, KJV).
We may also be reminded of the words of Hebrews 9:28; “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
As an innocent lamb, Jesus’ death might evoke another oxymoron … “VICTORIOUS DEFEAT”. You see, his victory certainly appeared to be a defeat to the world.