Saturday, March 2, 2024

Jesus, the Lion of Judah

Jesus as the Lion of Judah

It is March and the old saying goes that it comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.  This is of course in reference to the windy weather and transition from winter into spring. However, we will focus on another lion.  One of the most fascinating and powerful images of Jesus in the Bible is that of the Lion of Judah. This title reveals his royal, kingly, and victorious nature, as well as his connection to the tribe of Judah, from which he descended according to his human genealogy. In this blog post, we will explore the origins, meaning, and symbolism of Jesus as the Lion of Judah, and how this name can inspire us to trust in his authority and power.

The Origins of the Name

The name Lion of Judah first appears in Genesis 49, when Jacob blesses his twelve sons before his death. He prophesies about the future of each son and their descendants, who would become the twelve tribes of Israel. When he comes to Judah, his fourth son, he says:

"Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his." (Genesis 49:8-10)

Here Jacob compares Judah to a lion, a symbol of strength, courage, and majesty. He also predicts that Judah's descendants will have royal authority and dominion over their enemies and their brothers. He mentions a scepter and a ruler's staff, which are emblems of kingship. He also hints at a future ruler who will come from Judah's line and who will have universal sovereignty.

This prophecy was partially fulfilled in King David, who was from the tribe of Judah and who established a dynasty that ruled over Israel for many generations. However, the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy was in Jesus Christ, who was born from the lineage of David and Judah according to his human ancestry (Matthew 1:1-17). Jesus is the one to whom the scepter and the ruler's staff belong, and he is the one who will have the obedience of the nations.

The Meaning of the Name

The name Lion of Judah is used again in Revelation 5, when John sees a vision of heaven and witnesses a scene where no one is worthy to open a scroll with seven seals that contains God's plan for the end times. John weeps because no one can open the scroll, but then one of the elders tells him:

"Do not weep! 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)

Here John hears that there is someone who can open the scroll: **the Lion of the tribe of Judah**, **the Root of David**. These are two titles that refer to Jesus Christ, who has triumphed over sin and death by his death and resurrection. The title Lion of Judah emphasizes his royal and victorious nature, while the title Root of David emphasizes his messianic and Davidic nature.

However, when John turns to see this Lion, he sees something unexpected:

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders." (Revelation 5:6)

John sees a Lamb instead of a Lion. This is another title for Jesus Christ, who is also called "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" by John the Baptist (John 1:29). The Lamb represents Jesus' sacrificial and submissive nature, as he willingly offered himself as a sinless victim for our sins. The Lamb also looks as if it had been slain, which reminds us of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

The Symbolism of the Name

The name Lion of Judah reveals both aspects of Jesus' nature: his power and his humility, his authority and his obedience, his majesty and his meekness. He is both a Lion and a Lamb, both a King and a Servant. He is able to conquer all his enemies and ours by laying down his life for us.

For Christians, Jesus as the Lion of Judah gives us hope that he will return one day to establish his eternal kingdom on earth, where he will reign with justice and righteousness. He will also judge all people according to their deeds and reward those who are faithful to him. As Revelation 19:11-16 says: "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."  C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe references Jesus in the character Aslan who is a lion.  

For non-Christians, Jesus as the Lion of Judah is a warning that he will not tolerate sin and rebellion forever, and that he will hold everyone accountable for their choices and actions. He is not a tame lion, but a fierce and holy one, who demands our respect and reverence. As Hebrews 10:31 says: "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Therefore, we should all heed the invitation of Revelation 22:17: "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life."

Jesus as the Lion of Judah offers us the water of life, which is his grace and salvation. He invites us to come to him and receive his forgiveness and love. He also invites us to follow him and serve him as our Lord and King.

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