In the creative series, The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis portrayed a lion (Aslan) who in love gives his life as an atoning death on a stone table, and then in resurrection power conquers evil and its consequences forever. Everyone acquainted with this series knows that you can’t help but love the peaceful, sensitive, patient, all-knowing, righteous, and victorious lion.
Of course, C.S. Lewis is depicting the fictitious Aslan in the role of the real-life Jesus Christ. Unlike the Narnia world of “make-believe,” Jesus was a real man who entered earth’s history through birth from a real mother. He grew in wisdom and stature in a real family; studied in a real school; and lived in a real town with other real people. As the apostle John later said, “…we have heard…we have seen with our eyes…and our hands have touched…the Word of life” (1 John 1:1).
A popular worship song has captured very simply this truth of the Christian faith, “How Great is our God – sing with me… Lion and the Lamb, Lion and the Lamb.” Indeed, Jesus is identified in Scripture in a paradox of being both a Lion and a Lamb.
Jewish tradition and prophecy was settled that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and was to be first revealed from the “tower of the flock” – a special shepherd watch which lay close to Bethlehem but on the road to Jerusalem (4:8). A rabbinic rule provided that any lamb born in a flock from Jerusalem to Bethlehem must be presumed to be for Temple sacrifice.
No wonder the angel that God sent to that hillside near Bethlehem had a message of such joy for all the people: “…today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Destined for sacrifice, Jesus (a name which literally means Savior) was introduced to the world by John the Baptist simply as “…the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! Christmas is all about the celebration of the arrival of this Lamb – Immanuel: God with us (Matthew 1:23).
The patriarch Jacob called his many sons together and prophesied about their future (Genesis 49). Concerning his son Judah, he referred to him as a lion whose rule (scepter) would not cease until his staff would be passed to Him to whom rule rightly belongs, and to whom all the nations would eventually be obedient (vv. 9-10). The role of a lion and the ruler’s staff was passed to Judah’s descendent, Jesus, forty years before the loss of Israel’s rule when destroyed by the Romans (A.D. 70).
Jesus, of the tribe of Judah, having conquered death through the power of His resurrection, is then identified with absolute authority in John’s vision into the heavenlies: “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” (Revelation 5:5).
Praise to the Lion and the Lamb
In the very next line of Scripture John records: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne…” (Revelation 5:6). John concludes exultantly: “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand…In a loud voice they sang:
‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'”
How Great Is Our God… sing with me… the Lion and the Lamb!!