In writing for the March Gazette I am reminded of the old weather adage “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” We have had an interesting winter and it will certainly be interesting to see what the weather has for us in the coming weeks. There is already wonderful evidence of the new life of Spring bursting, as spring flowers add colour to the sodden soil and ‘dead’ twigs are beginning to wake up with the appearance of new buds. It is good to remind ourselves of a faithful creator God, who still reigns in Creation.
My main concern in this letter however is not in God’s work as the Creator, but as the Redeemer. The last weekend of March spans the events of Easter, Good Friday being March 29 and Easter Day on March 31. The events of Easter show Jesus in two of his great roles and ministries. On Good Friday we see the fulfilment of John the Baptist’s prophecy “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) On Easter Sunday He is proclaimed as the Resurrection and the Life. Following these events He is shown to us in heaven as “… the Lion of the tribe of Judah… .” (Rev 5:5 )
Even before God had constituted formal OT worship on Mt Sinai He had instituted the feast of the Passover. The Lamb that was killed in the final judgement on Egypt, when God passed through the land killing the first born in every home, including the palace, was ordered by God. The Son of Pharaoh, who was technically a god, was shown to be powerless before the One True Living God. This same God was however preparing throughout the remainder of Old Testament for the day when His Son would come into the world and He too would die. He, like the original lamb died in the place of others.
The Son of Pharaoh was taken to demonstrate the impotence of a religion that does not acknowledge the One True God, but Jesus was given to demonstrate the love of the God who created this world and has prepared the means for this world to be redeemed. On that awful day of the crucifixion the mockers unwittingly declared a profound truth – “He saved others; he cannot save himself.” (Mt. 27:42). In order to save an undeserving people Christ could not save Himself. There was no alternative; He had come into the world to give Himself as the Lamb of God who like the first Passover Lamb would turn away the righteous judgement of God from all who believe. Jesus is THE LAMB OF GOD.
At the same time however He is THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH who has experienced the wages of sin; death and the grave, but conquered both. Jesus was not the first person to rise from the dead. He himself had raised people to life in His earthly ministry as had Elijah and Elisha in the OT, but He is the first to have died, been raised and ascended, i.e. never to die again.
Every Christian can have the assurance that we need never fear death or the judgement of God, because the Lamb of God has already died in our place and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah reigns in our support and defence.
As we prepare for and celebrate Easter, may we each one give thanks that we need never fear the judgement of God in eternal death, but also rejoice that we look forward to an eternity of peace knowing that we live under the protective care of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
Yours very gratefully,
Bernard Lewis March 2013