Over the years, I have heard many pastors and theologians refer to Jesus as a Lion and a Lamb. In fact, it is typically in that order. We sing songs about Jesus being the Lion and the Lamb. However, I find it interesting that we tend to give these descriptors equal weight, if not a slight priority to the Lion metaphor by the mere fact that it is often mentioned first. However, what if I told you that these two descriptions were not even close to being equally represented in the Bible? One of them far outweighs the other. In fact, it is so disproportionate that it will make you wonder why we often hear them together. The truth is that in all of scripture, Jesus is given the title of “Lion” a grand total of one time, while the title “Lamb” is used 30 times in scripture! It isn’t even close.

So, why is it that we use Lion imagery about God so much? Maybe it is because of C.S. Lewis’ amazing allegorical depiction of Jesus in the character of Aslan that Lion (which is one of my favorites!). Or maybe, we just like depictions of strength over weakness. But, no matter how we justify it, one thing is clear, the image of Lamb is the one that is much more dominant in Scripture.

In fact, the distinction is most stark in the book of Revelation. An author named Brian Zahnd pointed this out masterfully in his book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. He writes:

There is no lion in Revelation, only a Lamb…a little slaughtered Lamb. Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah only in that he is a descendant of the tribe of Judah. (The lion was the symbol of the tribe of Judah.) But when we look for Jesus to be a lion, we see only a lamb. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords; he reigns not as a predatory lion but as a sacrificial lamb. Part of the divine comedy of Revelation is how the beasts of the empire are conquered, not by another beast, but by a tiny slaughtered Lamb. The elder tells John to look for a lion: “Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah” [Rev. 5:5, this is the one time the title is used]. But a lion is never seen. What is seen is the Lamb.

What does it mean that Jesus, the one who makes Almighty God knew (John 1:18), the very image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), the one in whom the fullness of deity dwells (Col 2:9)… what does it mean that this Jesus is more Lamb than Lion? What does it mean that when we look for the Lion, it is the Lamb who shows up? What does that say about who God is? What does that say about who we should be? This Christmas season, let’s be people who behold the Lamb of God!

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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