God’s Son, Jesus, is described in Scripture both as the Lamb of God and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. There’s a certain tension in that imagery. Lambs are known as weak and helpless animals. Lions are known as bold and strong animals. Even though lions are not known to attack humans as a habit, we consider them dangerous. They eat livestock like lambs and will attack humans when provoked.
In weakness, Jesus revealed his strength. In his first coming, he came as a Lamb.
- He was born to humble parents
- He was born in a stable
- His legal father was a carpenter (even though Joseph was from the lineage of King David)
- Jesus had no place to lay his head
- No place to call home on this earth
- He died an ignoble death on the cross.
But oh did he show courage and strength as a Lion. He overcame all opposition of human evil through his ministry of teaching and healing, and through his death and resurrection. He vanquished the fear of death once and for all. His work assured the sure doom of Satan and his minions.
The tension of Jesus as both Lamb and Lion is also due to the fact that we live between his first and second coming. In Hebrews 9:27,28 we read these words:
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 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.
We wait in faith and hope for the day when evil and death will be totally eradicated from the lives of the people of God and from this world.
A Christmas Story
As we wait in faith and hope, we are called to resemble both the Lamb of God and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah as illustrated by this story:
Representative John McCain (R., Arizona) wrote of his last Christmas as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. The previous Christmas was marked by his captor’s cruelty, who punished McCain and the other prisoners for celebrating the birth of Christ.
Meeting this time with fear and trembling, they sang hymns and carols.
Suddenly we were 2,000 years and half a world away in a village called Bethlehem. And neither war, nor torture, nor imprisonment, nor the centuries themselves had dimmed the hope born on the silent night so long ago. In a place designed to turn man into animals, we clung to one another, sharing what comfort we had… The Vietnamese guards did not disturb us. But as I looked up at the barred windows, I wished they had been looking in. I wanted them to see us – faithful, joyful, and yes, triumphant.
In their weakness, these American prisoners of war were strong. In the dark and dank dungeon of a Vietnamese jailhouse, the wonderful light of Christ shone brightly.
QOTD: In your life, are you faithfully reflecting the gentleness of the Lamb, and the boldness and courage of the Lion?