Revelation, The Lion and the Lamb: Some Reflections on Strength and Weakness

I love the book of Revelation. Among other things, it me that our time on this earth is short. It profits a man’s soul greatly to read it (1:3; 22:7).  It reminds me, as I read it, that the “powerful” of this day and age are living a short-term illusion.  They, in their impressive power, are “living the life”, while it seems those who follow Jesus mostly are left with, well, the leftovers. The way of the world with the lust of the flesh, eyes, and pride of life seems so attractive, yet we are reminded that the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (I John 2:15). We are faced daily with a choice: Do we believe this?  Revelation, with its images, colors, sights, and sounds that jump off the page are poignant reminders to me, that unless God by His grace actually reveals certain things to us, an “unveiling” (apokaluyiV), I tend to believe that “life” is found in my constant driving after the things of this world. Unless God shows me He is at work “behind the curtain”, what I am left seeing will be the physical and tangible experiences of horizontal “life “on planet earth. An illusion of true power and a mockery of the “weakness” I am called to enter into, displayed by our King.  John writes the book of Revelation while he is in exile on the Isle of Patmos because of his testimony to Jesus and His Word (1:9). He was persecuted because of his faith in Jesus, and, so were his readers, they were his “brothers and companions in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that our ours in Jesus (1:9) What an oxymoron in the world’s eyes – “suffering and kingdom”. And, in verse 5, we get a hint right away that Jesus is a different kind of King – He is a King who has “freed us from our sins by his blood”. A suffering King? What kind of king is that? We want a King who will roll up His sleeves with power and wipe out the enemy, right? But John steps in and reveals to us with eyes that will see, a King who instead of wiping our His enemies, allows Himself to be wiped out by His enemies. OF course, Jesus’ death is not the end of the story for as recipients of this revelation, we are reminded Jesus is also the firstborn from the dead, and the rule of the kings of the earth. So, how did this King who bled for us, become One who would rule for us? In one of the most arresting passages in Revelation (well, they are just about all arresting images!), we see John weeping (5:4). Why is John crying? Well, there was a scroll that needed opening, a scroll with seven seals but “no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.” (5:3). One of the elders told Joh to no weep, because “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” (5:5) Yes! A Lion has triumphed! This Lion was associated with Messianic lineage and titles. Here, we see Jesus. Yet, John did not see a Lion, but a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain (5:6).  And, the reason why this Lamb was able to open the scroll, was because he was slain and with his blood he purchase for God, persons from every tribe and language and people and nation . . .” (5:9) You see, John is reminding His readers to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, so they too would be able to triumph over the devil/accuser “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, that they would not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (12:11). So, with all that we have read, what does this mean for those of us who aspire perhaps for “power” and despise “weakness”? These “revelations” of John, found in his Revelation, show us that this life is short. Following Jesus doesn’t always look like “winning”. In fact, much of following our Lamb/King will feel like we are sheep who are being slaughtered (Rom. 8:36). By following Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), we declare to the rest of the world, that Jesus is of such supreme value, we would give up our greatest treasures, even our lives, to follow Him (Matt.13:45-46). Years ago, when I was a new follower of Jesus, an “older” saint (most likely someone 10 years younger than I am now!) told me this: “The Christian life has short-term liabilities but long-term benefits, while living for this world has short-term benefits but long-term liabilities. Yes, following the way of Jesus can be hard (Luke 9:23). It feels like, no, it is one of daily crucifixion (Gal.2:20) to competing desires. Yet, He loves us so, and in the end, none of our daily cross-bearing will seem at all like a sacrifice. My friend, if you are suffering some hardship today, especially as you follow Him, I would like to remind you, you do not suffer alone. He is with you. He is not mad at you. He is not punishing you. The hardships you face as a follower of Jesus, at least in part, is His invitation to experience Him, to walk with Him. His vindication and comfort WILL come some day. Perhaps this day.  Until then, may our souls “profit” despite or by the “losses” we face each day in our following of our bloody resurrected King. We will trust Him, not loving our lives so much, that we would shrink from death. That, my friends, is true power. Our time is short. We will triumph by the blood of the Lamb.