It would be near impossible to think of two animals more unlike each other than a lion and a lamb. When we think of a lion we think of strength, conquering and the king of the jungle. When we think of a lamb we think of weakness, gentleness, and the constant need of someone to care for and protection. Can you even imagine trying to keep and lion and a lamb both in the same pasture? How long do you think the lamb would survive that set up?
Think about that combination for a moment in light of Revelation 5. In chapters four and five of Revelation John is caught up into heaven and first sees God the Father on the throne with the 24 elders surrounding him. His appearance was of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. In the center around the throne were four living creatures who constantly were saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” The 24 elders fall down before him to worship him and lay their crowns before the throne and say: “you are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will, they were created and have their being.”
In chapter five the scene changes. The one on the throne is holding a scroll written on both sides with seven seals. A mighty angel cries out “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside.” John wept and wept because no one could open it when one of the elders said to him, “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. Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” When he took the scroll they sang a new song: “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.”
So, both the Father and the Son were called worthy. But think of the picture that John paints for us of Jesus as he appears at the throne of the Father. If this is a picture of the ascension of Christ then it is certainly a picture of triumph. But focus on the fact the elder referred to Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David who had triumphed. This is the picture of power, majesty and conquering. Jesus had taken on the devil at his strongest point, death and had overcome in the resurrection. He is the Lion who reigns. But when John turned to see the mighty lion, he saw a Lamb. It wasn’t just a lamb but one that looked as if it had been slain, standing before the throne. The Lamb had the seven spirits which refers to the Holy Spirit. He isn’t just the strong, conquering Lion, He is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The elders and creatures fell down before the Lamb. “Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
The picture John gives us isn’t of the elders or creatures falling before the Lion, but of the Lamb. He was worthy because he had been slain, and his blood purchased for God people from everywhere of every background. He made those who he bought with his blood a kingdom and priests to serve God and reign on the earth. Jesus is certainly the conquering Lion but it was as the lamb he paid the price that changed everything. As the Lamb slain, he opened the door of salvation to everyone. No longer did it matter whose family you were in or what nation you came from or what language you spoke. It mattered instead that you had been washed in the blood of the Lamb. But his picture of the people saved by the blood is astounding. They are a kingdom and priests of God, who are bought with the blood so they can serve God. It isn’t a place of royalty so we can sit down and watch or expect to be served by others, it is so we can serve God.
But there is one more huge point in this that stands out. The reign as a kingdom and priests of God is on the earth, not after we get to heaven. We are part of the kingdom of Christ right now. Every Christian serves as a priest of God in the kingdom as they live on this earth. They are ones who are striving to bring God to the hearts of others and to carry others to God as they serve him on the earth. It is no wonder that the elders and creatures then sang out: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
On this earth we go through tons of trials and challenges as we deal with life but it is vital we remember who we are as a kingdom and priests of God serving him on the earth all the time. What an amazing privilege to have been purchased by the blood of Jesus and be his priests on this earth, to serve in His kingdom with Jesus as our mighty king.