The Lion, the Lamb, and the Blood

by Curtis Dickinson

The Lion,

Nothing in all history impacts the human race like the death and resurrection of Jesus. But this generation, for the most part, fails to see the heart of the matter, and few people seem to make the connection between the blood of Christ and their own eternal destiny. The Christian who has fathomed the meaning of the blood of Christ has seen the heart of God as He is touched by our sin, in both His judgment and His mercy.

Jesus spoke of His "blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Paul said that "we have been justified by His blood," (Rom. 5:9) and John wrote that Christ "loosed us from our sins by his blood" (Rev. 1:5).

In the fifth chapter of Revelation (vv. 1-5) John describes his vision in which no one is able to open the book sealed with seven seals. Then he is told that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has overcome, to open the book, but when John looks for a lion, he sees a Lamb (v. 6), a Lamb that has been slaughtered, to which the four and twenty elders sing a "new song" saying, "You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and with your blood you bought for God persons from every tribe, language, people and nation" (v. 9).

The Blood of the Lamb

When God determined to slay the first born in Egypt, He provided a way of escape for the sons of Israel, who dwelt there as slaves. They were to slay a lamb and put some of its blood around the doorways of their houses. The blood was the evidence that a lamb had been killed, and the first born in those homes would be saved from death.

The issue here was life and death, and the shedding of blood was the means by which the animal was put to death. "The life of the flesh is in the blood, therefore I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the life" (Lev. 17:11).

Wherever blood was used in sacrifical offerings, it signified that death had taken place. However, the death of animals was not sufficient for meeting the penalty of man's sins. "For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Heb. 10:4). The needed sacrifice was found in Jesus. "Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime in bondage" (Heb. 2:14,15).

When the prophet Isaiah described the coming of a suffering servant to redeem God's people, he pictured Jesus as a lamb led to the slaughter, dying for the people "to whom the stroke was due" (Is. 53:7,8). Just as the lamb was put to death to save the first-born Israelites from death, Jesus was slain that we might be saved from death in the Day of Judgment. John the Baptist, therefore, introduced Jesus by saying, "Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Expressions such as "the cross of Christ" and "the blood of Christ" are euphemisms that always signify Christ's death. We are cleansed, washed, sanctified, and justified by His blood only in that His blood means His death. Paul could write that "we have been justified by his blood" because when Jesus shed His blood He was dying for us under the penalty of sin. "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21). In effect, the judgment has already taken place on the cross for believers who "by faith" are "justified by His blood" (Rom. 5:1,9).

The Lion

Like a lamb being led to the slaughter, Jesus willingly submitted to crucifixion that the final penalty for our sins might be met. His death demonstrates that God's laws are life and death matters. Christ died because God takes His laws very seriously indeed. Christ's death also demonstrates God's tremendous love and mercy, in that He would give His Son that we might not suffer the final death at judgment (for our sins), but might have life and immortality.

By sacrificing himself Jesus gained a great victory over the world, sin and death, making Him worthy to "take the book and open the seals thereof" (Rev. 5:9).

But in John's vision Jesus is also identified as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (5:5). After Jesus, the Lamb, was obedient even unto death, God raised Him up, exalted Him, and gave Him all authority in heaven and on earth. No longer is He the lowly Lamb, submitting to the abuse of evil men who oppose God. Now He is the King, reigning on the throne of David, and will return to judge the world in righteous judgment (Acts 2:30, 31; 17:31).

It is fitting for us to sing about the blood of Christ, if by this we have in mind the value of His death for us. To acknowledge His death is also to acknowledge our debt to Him. Following the example of Jesus, Christians are to humbly obey the Father and be willing to suffer tribulation and the persecution of the oppressors in patience.

"He died for all that they that live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:17). To glory in his death is a sham unless we put ourselves at God's disposal, to be used as His servants to please Him.

The Witness