Worthy is the Lamb
In Revelation 5, John weeps because no one is able to open the scroll. The seals are impenetrable. No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open it or even look inside it. (Revelation 5:4)
Have you felt that pain? Maybe you've tried to figure out why life has taken so many twists and turns. Maybe you're shattered by a loss that you can't understand. Maybe you're considering your own soul, unable to find a way to save yourself. The big questions of life are like that locked scroll - right in our hands and unable to be opened.
In his vision, John is pulled away from his weeping by a voice that said, “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.” -Revelation 5:5
Finally! John has hopes that a hero would emerge. Someone like a lion, strong and noble. The lineage of Judah and David indicates that he would be a royal warrior; a giant slayer.
When John looks for the lion, he sees a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain. Where he expected a conquering hero, he is greeted by one who has already been conquered. John's first impression Lamb isn't positive; someone who "looks like they've been slain" doesn't bolster confidence and hope.
Without missing a beat, the Lamb pushes through its wounds, strides to the scroll, and prepares to open it. The seals aren't opened until Revelation 6. The rest of Revelation 5 happens during a pause in the action. After its humble appearance and before its triumphant opening of the seals, the Lamb receives worship.
This is Jesus. People expected a hero like David. Instead, they received a suffering servant. The foolishness of the cross ends up being far wiser than the wisdom of humanity. To a world that demands protests, miracles, or arguments, Christmas brings a Lamb to be slain for the sins of the world.
A conquering lion would have been a wonderful representation of God's wrath. People hurt others and themselves. We aren't only broken and in need of healing, we also break others leaving them in need of healing. We fully deserve the lion of God's justice to devour us for what we've done.
A sacrificed lamb would have been a beautiful image of God's love. Reaching out to broken people, God has a long history of being a healer. Time and again He has rebuilt and restored. He is patient and kind. Like the Prodigal Father, God waits, God loves, and God renews us.
We don't get to pick. Jesus, the one who is worthy of our worship, is both the Lion and the Lamb. As Leon Morris once wrote:
"Divine love and divine wrath are comparable aspects of the divine nature … even when He is angry with man’s sin God loves man and is concerned for his well-being in the fullest sense. There is divine love, but it is not a careless sentimentality indifferent to the moral integrity of the loved ones. Rather it is a love which is a purifying fire, blazing against everything that hinders loved ones from being the very best they can be.”
This Christmas, remember that one born in the manger is both lion and lamb. Wrath and love. Judgement and salvation. That's what makes him worthy of all praise. That's why Revelation 5 is filled with more abject worship of Jesus than we see in any other chapter of the Bible.
“And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”” -Revelation 5:9–10
“In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”" -Revelation 5:12–13
This is the Jesus we worship.
Upcoming Daily Audio Bible Readings
December 14 Jonah 1:1-4:11, Revelation 5:1-14, Psalm 133:1-3, Proverbs 29:26-27
December 15 Micah 1:1-4:13, Revelation 6:1-17, Psalm 134:1-3, Proverbs 30:1-4
December 16 Micah 5:1-7:20, Revelation 7:1-17, Psalm 135:1-21, Proverbs 30:5-6
December 17 Nahum 1:1-3:19, Revelation 8:1-13, Psalm 136:1-26, Proverbs 30:7-9
December 18 Habakkuk 1:1-3:19, Revelation 9:1-21, Psalm 137:1-9, Proverbs 30:10
December 19 Zephaniah 1:1-3:20, Revelation 10:1-11, Psalm 138:1-8, Proverbs 30:11-14
December 20 Haggai 1:1-2:23, Revelation 11:1-19, Psalm 139:1-24, Proverbs 30:15-16
December 21 Zechariah 1:1-21, Revelation 12:1-13:1, Psalm 140:1-13, Proverbs 30:17
December 22 Zechariah 2:1-3:10, Revelation 13:2-18, Psalm 141:1-10, Proverbs 30:18-20
December 23 Zechariah 4:1-5:11, Revelation 14:1-20, Psalm 142:1-7, Proverbs 30:21-23
December 24 Zechariah 6:1-7:14, Revelation 15:1-8, Psalm 143:1-12, Proverbs 30:24-28