As I write this March edition of the Gazette I am conscious of the old saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” This year that is quite apt, because the final Sunday of the month will be Palm Sunday, on which we remember Jesus’ final journey or march into Jerusalem. For Jesus however the march was in reverse order. He had not jumped on the last express coach to get there, but for 3 years had been on this journey. As Jesus was nearing Jerusalem he was in effect completing the journey that John the Baptist had announced – ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’ (Jn 1:29). Whether John the Baptist fully realised what lay ahead for his cousin or not we cannot be certain, but Jesus knew. For 18 months He had been preparing Himself and His disciples for this journey when “he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Mt 16:21)
He knew that His earthly journey would end with Him being offered as the Final Passover Lamb in God’s purposes of redemption. He gave His life as the Good Shepherd, in order to redeem the sheep who had strayed.
In Revelation we are given an insight into the final end of history as we are given a preview of heaven, and there we see Jesus again as ‘a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain’ (Rev. 5:6), but Scripture in its intention to show the glories of God’s purpose is happy to mix metaphors and in the previous verse Jesus is described as ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David’.
Jesus is both The Lion and The Lamb. The lion is always seen as a picture of strength, the king of the jungle and that is an image of Christ that we must keep in our minds. He is not merely the king of the jungle, but is King of kings and Lord of Lords. This gives the Christian incredibly security, Isaiah wrote:
no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgement.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD
and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.” (Is 54:17)
In a day when much murder and warfare is in the name of religion we need to remind ourselves of what Paul wrote in 2 Cor 10:3f “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
This leads us to second picture of our Lord – The Lamb. The two pictures seem like a contradiction, how can a person be both a Lion and a Lamb? Christ does not use His strength, power and authority for the destruction of His people, but so that He might apply the fullness of His care. A suitable sharp knife properly used is not dangerous, but a blunt knife that has to be used with undue pressure can cause many accidents. Christ has all the power He needs to do all that He wants, so when He knows that care is needed He is never threatened by the fear that it is beyond His ability.
As we approach Easter this year let us remind ourselves that the man who is also God, Jesus Christ had the power to resist the cross, but He willingly gave Himself like a lamb in order that He might demonstrate the power of His gentleness. The cross of Christ is a demonstration of both the power of God and the gentleness of God.
As we face the opposition of the world let us remember the strength that is ours in Christ. As we see the suffering of lives broken by sin let us enjoy and apply the gentleness of Christ.
Yours with gratitude to the Lion and Lamb,
Bernard Lewis March 2015