Reading Revelation 5:6-14
Having found one who is worthy to open the scroll, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, there is a sudden change. Instead of a lion, John looks and sees a lamb, a lamb that looks slain. Shockingly, where once there was a magnificent, regal and noble lion there is a broken, bloodied lamb. The contrast is overwhelming.
The symbol of power, kingship and authority gives way to one of sacrifice and servanthood. The ultimate victory of God was achieved not by strength, but by gentleness, love and self-giving sacrifice. At anytime Jesus could have stopped his death on the cross. At any moment.
In the garden during Jesus’ arrest, as one of the disciples attempts to fight back, Jesus says, “Put your sword back in its place … Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54)
On the cross one of those hanging with him says, “Aren’t you the King, save yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39) The incredible truth is he could not save himself and them.
With one mighty roar, I suppose, he could have jumped down from the cross, shaking his hair like a mane – after all nails cannot hold God to a cross. He could have called a legion of angels in, like crack paratroopers, to surround the Romans and capture Jerusalem. He could have single handedly cut down and rescued the criminals who had been hanging with him, like a mighty lion, victorious with his prey beneath his feet. But those men would have died one day, and their death would not been taken care of, their sin not atoned for, the price not paid. Their lives not redeemed.
Nails do not hold God to a cross, love does. The love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, held Jesus there for six hours. Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. All our sin, rebellion was loaded on him. All our sickness, pain and grief was heaped on him. And he did away with it. Completely.
Jesus told one of the thieves hanging with him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). He could say that only because he was going to save that man through his death. In Paradise, that thief was safe, free of sin, sickness, worries, tears and pain. He had a new body, flawless and eternal. And yet, on the throne is a man, with holes in his hands, feet and a pierced side, looking like a lamb who has been slain.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18-20 NIV)
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12)
Father, when I look at the cross I see the lengths you went to to rescue me, the depth of your love for me and the power of your death. Thank you that on the cross you restored my relationship with you, made it possible for me to know you and have given me access to the throne room of God. Thank you Jesus! Amen.
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