“The Lion of Judah, the Lamb Who Was Slain” (Revelation 5:1-14)

Third Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2022

“The Lion of Judah, the Lamb Who Was Slain” (Revelation 5:1-14)

What’s going on in our world? Is anybody in charge here? It seems like the world is spinning out of control. We’re just getting over a global pandemic, and then we go into a global panic. Russia attacks Ukraine for no good reason, putting everyone on edge. Here at home, we’ve got men winning women’s swimming tournaments and a new Supreme Court justice who doesn’t even know what a woman is. Then there’s the economy. I checked my investment portfolio the other day, and, year to date, it’s down over 10%. If that’s not bad enough, at the same time inflation is at its highest rate in 40 years. Think of what you’re paying now for gasoline and groceries. So investments are way down, inflation is way up–it’s a double whammy.

And then there’s what’s happening to the church. Church membership and church attendance are way down, all across the country. The percentage of people who identify as Christians has dropped dramatically in the last ten to twenty years. We’re becoming a secularized, post-Christian nation. And in the parts of the world where Christianity is growing, our brothers and sisters are suffering terrible persecution.

When we’re faced with these situations–unless we have our heads in the sand and are unaware of what’s going on in the world–we may be tempted to despair, to lose hope. We look at the world and say: What’s going on here? Is anybody in charge? The present is pretty bad, and it doesn’t look like there’s any hope for the future.

Dear friends, today I want to encourage you. Yes, there is hope for the future. There is someone in charge. History does have a destination, and it’s a good one. What I mean is, the history of the future has already been written. It’s like a scroll to be unrolled. And the good news is, someone has been found who is worthy to unroll the scroll. Thus he reveals the course of events and their final outcome to us. He not only reveals them, but he is in charge of them. We meet that someone in our reading today from Revelation 5: “The Lion of Judah, the Lamb Who Was Slain.”

Here’s what I’m talking about. The apostle John has been given a glimpse into heaven. He’s told he will be shown what must take place in the future. He’s taken into the throne room of God. He sees and hears the whole company of heaven worshiping the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of all things. That’s what’s going on in chapter 4 of Revelation. Then as we move into chapter 5, John sees in God’s right hand a scroll. Apparently, this scroll contains the comprehensive record of all the things John had been told he would be shown, the things that must take place in the future. But this scroll is rolled up. And, on top of that, it is sealed, sealed with seven seals. The history of the future may be written, but it is hidden, hidden and sealed. And no one can be found who is worthy to open the scroll and look into it.

This is distressing to John, and he begins to weep. John knows the suffering and the persecution that the church in his day is experiencing. He himself is an exile on the isle of Patmos when he receives this vision. So, he wants to know if there is going to be any end to the suffering and the chaos. Are things ever going to get better? Does God really care about what’s happening on earth? The scroll would tell us, the scroll in God’s right hand, but that scroll is closed up and sealed securely. There’s been a search across heaven and earth for someone to open it, but it turns out that no one is worthy, no one is up to the task or worthy of the honor.

Until now. Now someone is found who is able, who is worthy. John is told, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” In other words, it’s the Messiah. The Messiah of Israel, from the tribe of Judah, the long-promised Davidic king–the Christ has come and conquered. He has won the victory over the enemies of God’s people. Therefore he, the Lion of Judah, is able to unseal the scroll and unroll it.

The Lion of the tribe of Judah–that’s where John is told to look. But when he does, what does he see? He sees a Lamb. That’s odd. You look to a Lion and you see a Lamb? The Lion–that’s the image we would expect for a mighty conqueror. And Christ is that. He has won the victory. But the way he has done it–that’s the surprise. Christ has conquered by being a Lamb. Lambs don’t strike terror into people. And not just any lamb, but a Lamb who has been slain. This is saying “sacrifice,” a sacrificial victim, like the lambs that were slain in the sacrifices in the temple. As sacrifices for sin. That too is who Christ is. He is the Lamb who has been slain as the sacrifice for sin. Only now he is standing at the throne of God in heaven.

Dear friends, this is where we look also. We look to Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He died on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for all your sins. Now he is risen from the dead and exalted at the right hand of God. Christ has risen, victorious in the fight. He has defeated all your enemies for you, all the enemies of God’s people: sin and Satan, death and disease, chaos and confusion, persecution and suffering, wars and rumors of wars, wicked rulers, economic instability, and the bleak unknown future. Jesus has defeated all our foes by his sacrificial death and his victorious resurrection. Weep no more.

“And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.” Jesus holds the future in his hands. There is someone in charge, and it is our Savior. The Lamb takes the scroll, and this prompts a joyous outburst in heaven. Everyone around the throne sings a new song to the Lamb: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Worthy are you, O Christ! You have every right to open the scroll, to reveal the history of the future and to rule over those events. For you have been given all authority in heaven and on earth, by virtue of the victory you have won. Listen, Christian, listen, church–listen to the song they’re singing in heaven! By his blood, the holy precious blood of the Son of God, Christ our Lord, the Lamb who was slain, has ransomed and redeemed, purchased and liberated, a people belonging to God from every nation on earth. They’re speaking every sort of language–English and Spanish, Swedish and Swahili, Russian and Ukrainian, Chinese and Arabic, German and maybe even a little Norwegian.

God has a big stake in what’s going on in the world! God has people–a people called the church, consisting of redeemed sinners like you and me–God has people in every corner of this world, in every nook and cranny. And God is committed to his people. We are precious to him. He has not forgotten you, despite all the suffering and confusion going on in this world. Be encouraged today! Weep no more. The history of the future has already been written, and Christ is holding it in his hand. As the events unfold, you can be sure that there is an end in sight. And until then, the risen and exalted Christ is ruling all things for the sake of his church.

It doesn’t always look like it, does it? From our perspective here on earth, we can’t see the big picture. But that’s why John was given this revelation, so we could have a new perspective, to see how things look from heaven’s vantage point. That’s the point, that’s the message of the Book of Revelation. Look to Christ, behold him, behold him as the Lion of Judah who has conquered in the fight, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Behold the Lamb who was slain, who now is risen and ruling and revealing to us that our future is indeed bright. This gives us the encouragement we need when things look dark and gloomy in our world and in our life.

And so, we join in the worship and adoration of the Lamb. As we sing our praises on this Lord’s day, know that we are joining with the whole company of heaven and all our fellow Christians here on earth. Together we are singing the loudest and most joyous song there is: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And all of God’s people said, “Amen!”

Published in: on April 30, 2022 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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