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The Names of Jesus
“The Lion from the tribe of Judah”
In C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the children are in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, and are for the first time learning about Aslan, the lion who represents Jesus in the story.
In the movie we see upon the children’s faces a sense of wonderment and awe when they hear the name Aslan and that He is on the move.
While the movie takes some liberty in what is said next, the book is quite revealing in describing Aslan.
“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.
“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver, “Why don’t you know? He’s the King . . . It is he, not you, that will save Mr. Tumnus . . .”
“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Aslan is power, pure, raw, awesome power, which is the perfect description of Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
Truthfully there couldn’t be a better picture and description of Jesus as being the Lion of the tribe of Judah, especially after being the Lamb of God. There is no animal that is more respected and feared than a lion, an animal not to be messed with.
Lions are powerful, and symbolic of royalty, with both power and authority, much like King Richard of Camelot fame. They called him “Richard the Lionhearted.” One could say that he was a lion of a man.
Jesus is the lion who both protects those who are His, while prosecuting those who reject Him and are friends of the world that hates Him, James 4:4, Romans 8:7.
Concerning Jesus who both protects and prosecutes, revivalist and theologian Jonathan Edwards says, “If you…come to Christ, he will appear as a Lion, in his glorious power and dominion, to defend you. All those excellencies of his, in which he appears as a lion, shall be yours, and shall be employed for you in your defense, for your safety, and to promote your glory; he will be as a lion to fight against your enemies. He that touches you, or offends you, will provoke his wrath, as he that stirs up a lion. Unless your enemies can conquer this Lion, they shall not be able to destroy or hurt you. Unless they are stronger than he, they shall not be able to hinder your happiness.”
This idea of God being like a lion is seen back in the Old Testament.
“As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey … so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect it and deliver it; he will spare and rescue it.” (Isaiah 31:4–5 NKJV)
The only reference, however, to Jesus being a lion is found in the book of Revelation where one of the elders in heaven tells John that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, was the only one who is worthy enough to open up the scroll that was in the hands of the Father.
“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5b NKJV)
Now, last week we looked at Jesus as being “The Lamb of God,” and the reason the lamb before the lion is because there is no way to look at the name of Jesus as being the Lion of the tribe of Judah without first understanding Jesus as the Lamb of God.
Jesus couldn’t be the Lion that rules and reigns without first being the Lamb that was slain. And this is exactly what the John understood when He saw the Lion coming as the Lamb who was slain to take the scroll from the Father.
“And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain.” (Revelation 2:6a NKJV)
These two pictures of Jesus as the lamb and then the lion references His first and second comings.
Let’s take a moment and see how Jesus was first the lamb, but then His coming back as a lion.
• As a lamb He was born as a helpless baby, but as a lion He’s coming in power and strength, Luke 2:7, Zechariah 14:4, Revelation 19:15.
• As a lamb He came in poverty, but as a lion He’s coming in majesty and in royal splendor, Luke 2:7, Revelation 14:4, Revelation 19:11-16.
• As a lamb a few greeted Him, but as a lion every eye will see Him, Luke 2:15-16, Revelation 1:7.
• As a lamb He brought peace between God and man when He died upon the cross, but as a lion He’s coming to execute judgment on those who reject Him, John 19:30, Colossians 1:19-22, 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9.
• As a lamb He was despised and rejected, but as a lion every knee will bow before Him, Isaiah 53:3, John 18:39-40, Philippians 2:10-11.
Now the name, Lion from the tribe of Judah, as being attached to Jesus is seen not only in what the elder said that He is the Root of David, who is a descendant of Judah, but also in the prophecy given by Jacob to his son, Judah.
Jacob, who is a patriarch of Israel and from whom the twelve tribes of Israel originated, lays his hands on each of his sons and prophesied.
To Judah he said, “Judah is a lion’s whelp (cub); from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? (Genesis 49:9 NKJV)
The reason we know that a king comes from the line of Judah, who is symbolized in this passage as a lion, is seen in what Jacob goes on to say in his prophesy.
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh (the Messiah) comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Genesis 49:10 NKJV)
Further, the elder confirms to John the Messiah’s kingship saying that He would also be from the Kingly line of David, calling Him the Root of David. This is clearly seen in Jesus’ genealogy found in Matthew’s gospel, Matthew 1-16.
The Messiah being from the line of David who will rule as king is also seen not only how Jacob said that the scepter shall not depart from Judah, but also when the Lord said to David, “Your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16 NKJV)
And so in Revelation what we see is that the time of God’s grace towards sin has run its course, and the period of grace we are presently in is gone, it is over, because while Jesus is long suffering, He’s not forever suffering. Jesus as a king and lawgiver will judge as a lion the wicked who have rejected His gift of grace as a lamb, and the people will not hear the voice of a lamb, but rather they will hear the roar of a lion.
The Lion’s Qualities
What qualities does the lion symbolize when it comes to the Messiah and the second coming of Christ?
Whenever you see a picture of a male lion you see him alone, apart from the pride, giving the appearance of aloofness from all that goes on around him.
The word holy means to be set apart. We are not only to be set apart from something, but also we are set apart to something. To be holy is to be set apart from the world and set apart for the Lord.
While the lion may appear aloof, he isn’t. The male lion is observant and rules over the pride providing protection.
God is holy. This is brought out throughout the Bible.
When Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon His throne in all of His glory and splendor, the seraphim, an order of celestial beings who are around and about God’s throne, cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3 NKJV)
Holiness is also attributed to Jesus now as the Lion in exactly the same way by the four living creatures, another order of celestial beings who like the seraphim surround God’s throne.
These living creatures cry out, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8 NKJV)
The Apostle Peter in his first letter points out that being holy is what Jesus said concerning Himself.
“Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16 NKJV)
Jesus not only says that He is holy, that is set apart from the world for the purposes of God the Father, but calls us to be the same. It was for this purpose that the Apostle Paul tells us why God saved us.
“Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (2 Timothy 1:9 NKJV)
It means that we live and think differently than the rest of the world. Our allegiance is to God not man. Therefore we are to be set apart for the purposes of God, which is probably why we’re called upon to be those living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable act of spiritual service, Romans 12:1.
The Lion is considered the king of beasts. No one challenges a lion; they are without equal.
This speaks to the Lord in his defense and deliverance of His people.
“As a lion roars, and a young lion over his prey (When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, He will not be afraid of their voice nor be disturbed by their noise), so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.” (Isaiah 31:4 NKJV)
It is this very quality that the Lord speaks about concerning His Son, Jesus the Messiah, in Psalm chapter two.
“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed (Messiah), saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.’” (Psalm 2:1-3 NKJV)
Just as the voices of those shepherds didn’t bother the lion, what these kings and rulers say doesn’t bother the Lord. In fact it says that the Lord will laugh at such a display. He then goes on to identify the Messiah, the Anointed One, saying,
“You are My Son, today I have begotten You … You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:7, 9 NKJV)
And we see this exact thing happening when Jesus returns as that Lion, as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:15-16 NKJV)
This quality of majesty can also be applied to us, but not in the way many think. We are not kings and queens ruling over God and His creation, rather we are royalty in the making.
When someone is engaged to a king, they will soon become queen when the marriage is consummated. The same can be said for someone engaged to a duke, they are a duchess in the making.
We are royalty in the making because we are engaged to Jesus. We are called the bride of Christ, and when that marriage occurs we will be royalty as well. The Bible says that when we return with Jesus we will rule and reign with Him, 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 20:4, Daniel 7:17-18.
As the king of beast, no one messes with a lion. All animals including humanity give it a wide birth. Someone has to be pretty brave, or better yet, foolish, to tell a lion that his breath stinks. You just don’t mess with a lion.
We see this in John’s vision when the elder declared Jesus as the Lion from the tribe of Judah, but John saw Jesus as the Lamb that had been slain.
“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 NIV)
But here is the really interesting part, while Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah comes back as the conquering king, what allowed Him to conquer in the first place was being the Lamb that was slain, as John goes on to say in verse six.
This is brought out in John’s vision of the sixth seal being broken.
“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17 NKJV)
Jesus conquers as the Lion because He first conquered as a Lamb. It is because people continue to disbelieve and follow other gods including themselves that the wrath of Jesus as the Lamb that was slain will be poured out.
So what exactly did Jesus as the Lamb that had been slain conquer?
Sin and Death
While the wages of sin is death, the gift that has been given to those who believe is eternal life through Jesus Christ.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NKJV)
When Jesus laid His hands upon John to the start of the vision we know as the book of Revelation, Jesus said, “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. (Revelation 1:17b-18 NKJV)
Jesus conquered both sin and death
This is why the Apostle Paul could quote, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15: 54b-57 NKJV)
The Bible states that the purpose of Jesus’ coming as the Lamb of God was to destroy the work of Satan, 1 John 3:8, so that through Jesus’ death He could render Satan powerless who had the power of death, Hebrews 2:14-15.
John heard a loud voice in heaven proclaiming Jesus’ victory.
“Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (Revelation 12:10 NKJV)
And because of this victory we now have the victory, even though we may die for our faith, as John goes on to hear from heaven.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11 NKJV)
In his first letter to the church, John said, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV)
Jesus watches over us, and protects us as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is strong and powerful, and because He is nothing formed against us will ever prosper.
At this juncture it might be good to take a look at the other lion mentioned in the Scripture, Satan, one who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour, 1 Peter 5:7. But while Satan may roar, he cannot bite, that is, his teeth were pulled back and the cross. And while he may be active as that angel of light, his power over all who believe has been nullified.
You could say that the lion of hell, Satan, is no match for Jesus, the conquering Lion of Judah, the Lamb that was slain.
(Watch the clip from the movie: The Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe where Aslan breathes on Mr. Tumnus)
God’s desire is to turn stone harden hearts into hearts of flesh.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV)
Jesus does this through the Holy Spirit in which He breathes out and into all who believe.
“And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:22 NKJV)
Aslan is on the move – Jesus is on the move. Allow Him today to breathe new life, health, and healing into your body, soul, and spirit.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study