The Lion and the Lamb United
by John Piper
In a great sermon called “The Excellencies of Christ,” Jonathan Edwards drew attention to Revelation 5:5–6, where Christ appears as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” and as “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.” This is the picture of the paradoxes of Lion and Lamb. He is both a lion-like Lamb and a lamb-like Lion. What makes Christ glorious, as Edwards put it, is “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.”
For example, echoing Edwards, we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness. In his equality with God he has a deep reverence for God. Though he is worthy of all good, he was patient to suffer evil. His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission. He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom but was simple enough to be loved by children. He could still the storm with a word but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross.
There is a template in the human heart created by God ready to receive with self-authenticating certainty such divine glory. We were made to know and enjoy this person, Jesus Christ, the lowly incarnation of the all-glorious God. We may sense it in our weariness or in our worldwide dreams. But we know. It is written in our hearts: this God-man is true.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). The lamb-like gentleness and humility of this Lion woos us in our weariness. And we love him for it. If he recruited only like the Marines, who want strength, we would despair of coming.
But this quality of meekness by itself, separated from Christ’s majesty, would not be glorious. To be sure, we are weak and weary and heavy laden. But there burns in every heart, at least from time to time, a dream that our lives will count for something great. To this dream Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. . . . And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18–20).
We know, from the built-in template of our own weakness together with our longing for transcendent greatness, that the glory of Jesus Christ—the Lion and the Lamb—is the glory we were made for. This is the heart of the glory that shines into our hearts through the Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit and convinces us that they are the very words of God.
Content taken from A Peculiar Glory by John Piper, ©2016. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.
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