Revelation 5:5-7

Sermon preached on July 8, 2012 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When I was a young boy I read most of the Hardy Boy books. I used to love them. They were great. In all the books the two Hardy boys were the heroes and it was exciting to follow their exploits and see what crimes they could solve. As I got older and finished the Hardy boy books I read some spy novels. I remember one particular spy book I read. I can't remember its name or the author but I do remember the first chapter. There was this spy, a good guy who was on a mission. Part of the mission involved scuba diving. He was underwater, investigating something. It was really exciting. But to my great surprise, he got killed right at the end of the first chapter. I could hardly believe it. I thought he was going to be the hero of the whole book—but he wasn't. He was just the hero of the first chapter. Chapter 2 introduced the hero of the whole book.

I had never read a book like that before. It was inconceivable to me that an author would kill the main character in chapter 1. It was shocking, surprising. It was not expected at all.

Our text is like that. In verse 5 John was told not to weep because the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. Those titles—the Lion of Judah and the Root of David are exceedingly powerful titles. The picture of Jesus that we would expect in verse 6 is of Jesus as a great lion roaring, demonstrating His great power. Or we might expect a great royal figure, like a King with a crown on His head and a great sword in His hand.

But instead of seeing one of those images, we see a Lamb. Not only that, it's a lamb looking as if it had been slain. This scene in incredible. It has so much to teach us, about Jesus, about His commitment to us, and about how we are to live in this world.

There is no one like our Savior Jesus. Our text shows us His glory. Two of the things we are going to focus on this morning are the fact that He appears as a Lamb and the fact that He appears as a Lamb looking as if it had been slain.

First of all,

consider that John sees a Lamb.

We read,

"Then I saw a Lamb,
looking as if it had been slain,
standing in the center of the throne,
encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.
He had seven horns and seven eyes,
which are the seven spirits of God
sent out into all the earth."

Jesus appears as a Lamb. This is amazing. The contrast with verse 5 is striking. Grant R. Osborne writes, (Revelation, p. 254)

"This is one of the most beautiful mixed metaphors in all the Bible—the lion (5:5) is a lamb!"

Who is Jesus? He is the King of Glory. Verse 5 tells us that He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, that He is the Root of David.

Both of these are very lofty titles.

lion is mentioned more than any other animal in the Old Testament. It is an image of great power and strength, which no one can stand against. God as a divine warrior is often depicted as a lion. Isaiah 31:4 says,

"This is what the Lord says to me:
As a lion growls, a great lion over his prey—
and though a whole band of shepherds
is called together against him,
he is not frightened by their shouts
or disturbed by their clamor—
so the Lord Almighty will come down
to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights."

Hosea 5:14 gives us another example. God says,

"For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
like a great lion to Judah.
I will tear them to pieces and go away;
I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them."

The Lion represents great power, being able to vanquish all enemies. Grant Osborne writes, (Revelation, p. 253)

"It is the Messiah's military prowess and victory over his enemies that are celebrated."

The Lion of the tribe of Judah takes us back to Genesis 49:9-10, where Jacob was blessing his twelve sons. He said of Judah,

"You are a lion's cub, O 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 comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his."

Jacob was predicting that the Messiah would be a lion and that He would come fro the tribe of Judah. He said that he would rule over all nations. He alone had the right to rule. What is said here reminds us of Colossians 1:16 said about Jesus.

"For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers
or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him."

He would be the One to whom rule rightfully belongs. All owe Him obedience. That He would appear in the next verse as a lamb looking as if it had been slain is one of the most incredible contrasts in the Bible.

The same is true of the title the, 'Root of David'. This is another powerful image. We are told in the OT that the Messiah would be from the family of David. For example, in Jeremiah 23:5 God said,

"The days are coming…
when I will raise up to David
a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely and do
what is just and right in the land."

Isaiah 11 is a great Messianic passage which says about the root of Jesse. Verse 10 says,

"In that day the Root of Jesse
will stand as a banner for the peoples;
the nations will rally to him,
and his place of rest will be glorious."

Notice that the Messiah is not called merely the 'branch' of David, but the 'Root' of David. This is significant. Vern Poythress writes, (The Returning King, p. 109)

"Jesus is not merely a descendant of David, which would make him merely a branch out of the root. He is himself the root! If we reckon merely by physical descent, the descendant would be expected to be subject to the ancestor. But Jesus is the Son of God as well as the son of David, which gives him primacy over David…"

The idea is that Jesus is the root out of which David came. He is the model of which David's kingdom was a mere shadow. The kingdom of the Root of David would be one of absolute righteousness. The first part of verse 4 of Isaiah 11 describes Him this way,

"with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth."

The Root of David was none other than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Not only would He rule in righteousness—but He is also pictured as a great warrior. He would protect His people and destroy His enemies. The end of verse 4 says,

"He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked."

But here, in verse 6, Jesus is presented as a Lamb. Again, the contrast is incredible.

There is a great lesson for us here. The fact that Jesus is presented as a Lamb tells us that

He is gentle and welcoming.

In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said,

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls."

Leon Morris writes, (Matthew (PNTC, p. 296-297)

"Jesus affirms that he is gentle and humble in heart. This taking of a lowly place is noteworthy. Leaders and teachers have always tended to take a superior place, but Jesus has no need of such gimmicks… It was not that he pretended to be humble and made a show of being lowly: he really was lowly, and that at the very center of all that he was. Because of what he is in his innermost being, meek and lowly, those who come to him find rest."

R. T. France says of Jesus, (Matthew, NICNT, p. 450)

"to the 'little children' to whom God has revealed the truth he is gentle and considerate, 'lowly' not in the sense of being unaware of his exalted status but of not using it to browbeat those under his authority."

Those of you who are not Christians should have no hesitation about going to Him. He will not be harsh with you. He will accept you with open arms.

For those of you who are Christians that have sinned, those of you who have messed up, those of you who have disappointed Jesus. Don't hesitate to go to Him for forgiveness and restoration. Peter sinned by denying Jesus three times. John's gospel tells us of 4 post resurrection appearances of Jesus. The first was to Mary Magdalene, the second was to some of the disciples as a group, but none of them are named. The third was the same, and only Thomas was named. The fourth mentions Peter by name. It occurred when they were fishing. Jesus was on the shore while they were out in the boat. They hadn't caught anything so Jesus told them where to let down their net. When they came ashore, He said to them,

"Come and have breakfast."

He had breakfast ready for them. He then served them breakfast.

What does that teach us? It shows us that Jesus deals gently with repentant sinners. Go back to Him. He will not be harsh with you. As God said to his rebellious people in Jeremiah 3:12, (HCSB)

"Return, unfaithful Israel.
This is the LORD's declaration.
I will not look on you with anger,
for I am unfailing in My love.
This is the LORD's declaration."

The second great thing we see in our text is that

the Lamb looked as if it had been slain.

The scene brings to mind the paschal lamb of the Passover. When Israel was being delivered from Egypt, before the plague of death of the firstborn—each family in Israel was to take a lamb and slaughter and eat it. They had to put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts on the top and sides of the doors where they ate the lamb. That night the Lord passed over the faithful Israelites but put to death the firstborn of the Egyptians. (Exodus 12)

In order for a household to be spared a lamb had to be sacrificed. That lamb was looking forward to the coming of the great lamb of God. In John 1:29, when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he shouted,

"Look, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world!"

Jesus came as the lamb of God. He came to fulfill what Isaiah 53 predicted. It says, (verses 4-7)

"Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth."

He became a lamb going to the slaughter for you. He rose again for your justification. He is at God's right hand, on God's throne, not only with our human nature, but with the marks of death on Him—marks that show that He died for us.

Christians, this shows you how much Jesus loves you and how committed He is to you.

The marks of His work on our behalf have been raised to glory.

There is
something incongruous in the picture here.

Marks of death are in the midst of the throne.

God is the source of life. He Himself is living and 1 Timothy 6:13 tells us that God,

"gives life to everything…"

Acts 17:25 tells us that God,

"gives all men life and breath
and everything else."

In Acts 3:15 Peter referred to Jesus and said to the Jews,

"You killed the author of life…"

Jesus is the author of Life. He is the One who gives life to everyone. Life comes from Him.

Thus to have marks of death in the center of God's throne is absolutely incredible. To have the Author of Life have marks of death on Him in astounding. Not only that, but the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain
, is surrounded by the four 'living' creatures.

The Author of Life saved us from eternal death by dying in our place. Philippians 2:6–8 says of Jesus,

"Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!"

Those marks of death have been taken on high. They are part of His glory. (John 17:1) In glory, on God's throne, surrounded by the four 'living' creatures—Jesus has marks of death on Him. Jesus had the marks of His suffering and death on Him when He appeared to Thomas. So here in heaven, on His throne, He has the marks of death on Him. What an incredible picture.

This shows how committed Jesus is to you. Jesus' humanity wasn't temporary. His human body wasn't something that He discarded after He ascended to heaven. No, at the Father's right hand He rules as the God-man. There, at the Father's right hand, He continues to bear the marks of humanity, of death—of His sacrifice for you. On the throne are evidences of His love, of His commitment to you.

How committed is Jesus to you? How much does He love you? Look at this picture—

"I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain,
standing in the center of the throne…"

Lastly, this shows you

how you are to live and fight in this world.

We want to church of Jesus Christ to grow. We want to see Christ's kingdom extended. How are we to accomplish that? This November we're having elections that are very important. But it's not through politics that the church grows. Nor is it through military might or power. Vern Poythress says of the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, at the center of the throne, (p. 109)

"This vision sets forth in dramatic form the central paradox and mystery of the Christian faith. God achieved his triumph and delivered his people, not through the fireworks of military might, but through the weakness of crucifixion."

We are called to follow in His footsteps. Craig S. Keener adds, (Revelation)

"That Jesus overcomes through dying challenges our ways of doing things. We like to gain political or social power and dictate God's terms from the top down. By contrast, Jesus shows us that the true victory comes in sacrifice and weakness, which force us to depend on God's vindication. Jesus' army of followers must imitate his example." "we need to be reminded that the victory lies with God and is accomplished as often through our apparent defeat as through our public triumph."

Poythress adds, (p. 110)

"Christ's achievement is unique, but it also sets the pattern for Christians. We are to fight our spiritual battles, not with military or political strength, but with endurance, purity, and faithfulness to Christ, even to the point of death. Martyrdom, which looks like defeat to the world, seals the saint's victory, because it appropriates the final victory of Christ in his death and resurrection."

Christians, what are your weapons? In 2 Corinthians 10:3–4 the apostle Paul writes,

"For though we live in the world,
we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world."

In 2 Corinthians 6:4f Paul said,

"as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:
in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
in beatings, imprisonments and riots;
in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
in purity, understanding, patience and kindness;
in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
in truthful speech and in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness
in the right hand and in the left;"

We are to love our enemies. We are to bless when they curse, do good to them when they persecute us. (Matthew 5:44f) Or as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:20–21,

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…
Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good."

May God give us grace to follow in the footsteps of our great Savior.