Revelation – The Lion and the Lamb – 12

Revelation 5:1-14 1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “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.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“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,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

How do you picture Jesus? Whatever our picture of Jesus is, it likely falls woefully short of how and who he truly is. The passage we will be studying tonight is one of the clearest pictures we get of Jesus, and it is one of the most powerful chapters in all of scripture. More clearly than anywhere else, the veil of heaven is pulled back and we glimpse into heavenly realities.

Just like many of these Revelation sermons, we will dig deeper into some things than others, and there will be some speculation about different things that happen. But we are given Revelation for a reason, and it is for us to be able to know things about God and things about the future. What we will see clearly in this chapter is Jesus.

What if there was no Jesus? There would be no ________________. Ultimately, there would be no meaning or hope, for your future or for the future of humanity. As renown atheist Richard Dawkins said, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”[1] In terms of where existence is heading…thinking about the trajectory of history, the German liberal Rudolf Bultmann said, “We cannot claim to know the end goal of history. Therefore, the question of meaning in history has become meaningless.”[2]

When you have no view of God or a low view of God, this is what you get. This is the only option. Your life is meaningless and history is going nowhere. This is not what we see in Revelation 5.

This chapter is broken up into three parts, so we will see three main things in this message and dig a little deeper into what it means.

1) None but Jesus can direct history. (vs 1-4)

There are two questions we need to think about and answer in these first four verses. Why is John weeping, and what is on the scroll? Both of these questions have to do with each other.

We will answer the second question first…What is on the scroll? Well, the seven seals on the scroll will be opened by Jesus in chapters 6-8, so we know what happens when the scroll is opened.

One main view about the scroll is: The scroll relates to the events that will bring history to its appointed conclusion.[3]In other words, “It is the remainder of the book of Revelation.”[4]

Why would this cause John to weep? Because nobody was worthy. Nobody can bring about the conclusions that need to happen. Nobody can right all the wrongs that have been done in this world due to sin. All of the promises of the Bible…nobody can make them happen. Think about the rest of the book of Revelation and what would not happen if this scroll isn’t opened.[5]

  • 5:9; Jesus would not be worshiped as worthy to open the scroll.
  • 5:9; Jesus would not be worshipped as the world’s Redeemer.
  • 6:10; The martyrs of the faith would not be avenged.
  • 8:4-5; The prayers of the saints would not be answered.
  • 9:15; God’s appointed plan would not come to pass.
  • 11:15; The kingdom of the world would not become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
  • 16-18; The wicked would not be judged.
  • 19-20; Jesus would not come back.
  • 21-22; God would not reign in glory in the new heavens and the new earth.

“In short, if that scroll isn’t opened, the Bible’s promises don’t come true. Hope is defeated…He’s weeping because he is so emotionally involved in what is happening, because he is concerned that things might not turn out the way that he had hoped they would.”[6]

Do you ever feel that way? It’s a good thing the chapter…and history…doesn’t end there, in despair and hopelessness. Jesus has taken a hold of history…the world’s and yours. The solution John sees is the exact solution we need.

2) Jesus conquers like a lion by being slain like a lamb. (vs 5-7)

The hopelessness that John was feeling is overcome by realizing that Jesus is worthy and that he has conquered. Because of Jesus, there is hope…in history…and in your life.

There are three giant pieces of imagery that are of importance to us, relating to the Old Testament and God’s promises being fulfilled.

Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. (Genesis 49:8-12) This reminds us of the way Jacob blessed Judah: “Judah is a lion’s cub…he crouched as a lion…” And a reminder that Jesus is the Messiah/King who would come from the line of Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah.” Another major fulfillment of prophecy in the same way is shown in Jesus being the Root of David.

Jesus is the Root of David. (Isaiah 11:1) It was widely prophesied and known that the Messiah would come through the line of King David. This passage in Isaiah relates exactly to how Jesus is referred to here in Revelation: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse.”

There are centuries of promises behind these titles for Jesus. Promises made by God. And since Jesus has conquered, he can make all of God’s promises come true, so John should “weep no more.” You can look to Jesus when you have nowhere to turn. He directs history. He fulfils God’s promises. He loves you and cares for you. He wipes the tears from your eyes.

These two titles aren’t the only Old Testament connotation that is brought up here. Jesus is the Lamb that was slain. A lamb was an animal to sacrifice, humble and lowly, unlike a conquering lion. Remember what Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist said when he first saw Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Many Jews missed the fulfillment of the prophecies because Jesus came to lay down his life to die instead of ruling and reigning on a throne like David. They looked over such prophecies like Isaiah 53 of the suffering servant, written 700 years before Jesus walked the earth. The thing is, Jesus is ruling and reigning on a throne! He came to earth to die for our sins. All we must do is believe in him. Submit to him. Follow him. He died, but he conquered death with his death. He rose from the dead and ascended on high and is ruling and reigning the cosmos. He did come like the Jews expected, to be a conquering king to rule and reign, only he did it by the means of being a sacrificial lamb. And just like in the Passover in Exodus 12, the blood of Jesus removes God’s just judgment and wrath against us, because it was all placed on the lamb.

I love the picture C.S. Lewis paints of this notion that Jesus is a lion and a lamb. Of course, you know that Aslan in the Narnia series of books is Jesus. He is a giant and mighty lion. I love this interaction in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe between Susan and Mr. Beaver when Susan hears of Aslan. Mr. Beaver said,

“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”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

In the same book we see Aslan sacrifice himself to save everyone, except he didn’t stay dead. He came back to life. Sound like anyone you know? At the end of a later book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, several of the characters make it right up next to the edge of Narnia, to Aslan’s Country, which signifies heaven…just like we see in  Revelation. And there we get this beautiful picture, not just of a mighty lion, but he first appears as a lamb. They don’t want to leave Narnia because they don’t want to leave him. But he tells them they can be with him again, but in their world he goes by a different name. He doesn’t tell us, but can you guess what it is? Jesus. And he says they were brought to Narnia so they would believe in him in their world. It’s much like this glimpse we get into Revelation. We see Jesus, this lion and lamb, lifted up and exalted above all else, so that we will exalt him here and now.

Because of who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He will do:

3) Jesus is completely worthy of worship. (vs 8-14)

God will always be giving us new reasons to worship him. As my son said the other day when thinking about heaven, “There will be no feeling but happy, excited, and surprised forever.”

Jesus is worthy of worship because he is able to do what no one else can do.[7]

We see the appropriate response in heaven…myriads and myriads of angels (a myriad can mean ten thousand…so ten thousands of ten thousands)…worshiping and adoring and honoring Jesus as worthy.

Jesus has conquered and is in control of the way history and your life will turn out.

That means he can be trusted and he should be worshipped. So, let’s start right now and join with the chorus of angels.

[1] Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 135.

[2] Rudolf Bultmann, The Presemce of Eternity: History and Eschatology (New York: Harper, 1957), 120.

[3] James M. Hamilton, Jr., Revelation, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 152.

[4] Daniel L. Akin, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary (Nashville: B&H, 2016), 123.

[5] Hamilton, Jr., Revelation, 153.

[6] Hamilton, Jr, Revelation, 153.

[7] Hamilton, Jr, Revelation, 158.



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