Lion of Judah
by Bonnie Patterson
“Lion of Judah”
“Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory.
He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
You think about great strength, fierceness, royal authority or power, and boldness when you consider the characteristics of a lion. In ancient literature, a lion was esteemed as a brave and mighty hero. This title, Lion of Judah, given to Jesus, demonstrates that Christ alone has the authority and power to open the scroll in Revelation 5:5. It shows that nothing can happen apart from his doing. Hebrews 1:1-3 tell us that Jesus, the Son of God, sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.
The tribe of Judah is spoken of by Jacob in his blessing of his fourth son as a young lion in Genesis 49: 9, 10:
Judah, your brothers will praise you.
You will grasp your enemies by the neck.
All your enemies will bow before you.
Judah, my son, is a young lion
that has finished eating its prey.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down;
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
Judah was the tribe that produced the kingly line of David through which Christ the Messiah was to be born. Judah as a tribe was assigned by God to take the lead in conquering the nations in the Promised Land. It was in the land of Judah that the temple was built on Mt. Zion.
As the Lion of Judah, Christ occupies full authority. Interestingly, the name of Christ as the Lamb follows after the Revelation 5:5 title of Lion of Judah. John Piper wrote that Christ was both Lion and Lamb. These qualities are all found together in Christ. Glory and humility. Majesty and meekness.
Someday all the world will face this Lion! C. S. Lewis depicted Christ in the character of Aslan the lion of the Narnia Chronicles. Here is a reflective passage from The Silver Chair about an encounter by a young girl named Jill with Aslan that illustrates Christ as the Lion, the only source for satisfying our soul’s thirst:
“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”