Worthy is the Lamb – Revelation 5:6-7 11/15/20

Worthy is the Lamb – Revelation 5:6-7 11/15/20

Are you aware that admittance into heaven requires appropriate attire? It’s described in Romans 3:21-26. We must be clothed in a righteousness that’s foreign to us, it’s a righteousness that comes from God. That righteousness is made available to us for one reason, and only one reason. God loves us and, in mercy, extends the opportunity to enjoy all the good things He has always intended that we enjoy; Ephesians 2:4-7 gives us just the tiniest glimpse of this.

This plays into our text today because the One who made it possible for us to be seen as righteous in God’s presence comes on the scene. Our full passage is Revelation 5:1-14. He, Jesus, is the only One worthy to bring judgment against the earth and its inhabitants, and that worthiness was won through His sacrificial death in our places. Hence, “worthy is the Lamb that was slain.”

In our passage, initially none are found worthy to open the scroll which God holds in His hand. Then, the elder tells John that the King is able to open the scroll. Jesus is described by the elder in kingly terms, the Lion of Judah and the Root of David.[1] But this One has to be more than a simple descendant of David, He must be more than only a human man. None from the line of Adam has the right to open the scroll and take charge of the planet.[2] But… there is One who is worthy, that One is revealed to be the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The imagery of a slain Lamb in the text serves to bring out the irony of Jesus’ kingship… it was bought through crucifixion. This strange truth is embedded in the message of the Gospel.[3] As we wade through the details, at the end of the day, it is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, who has the right and title to planet earth,[4] regardless of what the usurping opposing powers may try to convince us of. This is the central point of this passage. That right was purchased by His death as One who is intrinsically divine.[5]

There’s some really cool stuff going on here. Using symbolic language, we find Jesus shown to be the fulfillment of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. He is the One in control of the future of planet earth.[6] The reference to the Lamb that had been slaughtered, and yet now appears fully alive, combines the two theological themes of death and resurrection.[7] You can hardly read this passage and not be reminded of the Passover Lamb of Exodus 12:21-23. Then Isaiah takes this same imagery and prophetically points the Israelites to the future and the coming Savior of Isaiah 53:7.[8] It was no accident that John the Baptist was able to observe Jesus walking by and proclaim with utter certainty what is recorded in John 1:29.[9]

In our passage in Revelation, John pulls together prophesies of the coming King and prophesies of the suffering servant, and points them both to Jesus as their fulfillment.[10] That the Lamb is “standing” is a significant detail.[11] Christ’s prominence and authority certainly supersedes that of the twenty-four elders, but they’re shown seated on thrones.[12] This could be an oblique reference to Jesus’ resurrection.[13] It could be noted to demonstrate that the time is finally at hand for Him to intercede in the flow of human history.

Then we find that Jesus goes into action. The way it’s described in the Greek conveys a sense of drama;[14] Revelation 5:7. The center of the action is being emphasized by using the perfect tense of “took” (εἴληφεν),[15] The idea being conveyed, again through the use of the perfect tense,[16] is “He went up and took it, and now He has it.”[17] Thus begins the final redemptive work of Christ.[18] Jesus will judge the world in righteousness, and then He will reign in righteousness.[19]

When will, or when did, all this take place? I’m not sure how tight a correlation we can draw between time-based events in heaven and events on earth. I suspect that we’ll find that much of the Revelation still remains in our futures, but we’ll just have to wait and see what the text has to say. Regardless of when the Great Tribulation takes place, there will remain one final judgment; Romans 14:10-12.

Regardless of when all this did happen, is happening, or will happen, the Church universal during John’s lifetime had experienced some really hard times, and more were coming. In such settings it’s easy to give in to despair. In the face of seemingly endless hardship and life-disruption the temptation is to take the easy way out.

Here we have a vision of the risen and victorious Christ in total charge over human history. This should encourage us to stay faithful. We know that the Lion conquers… but He did so by initially by suffering as a sacrificed Lamb. This juxtaposition implies that, in our struggle against the world, we Christians need to remember that Christ also suffered at the hands of the world… but triumphed over it.[20]

The Scriptures simply assume that there will be suffering. It also assumes victory in the final analysis. It may be pretty hard right now, but in the end we will discover that there is more going on than we at first are able to observe. Rest in the One who loves you so much that He would die for you.

Allow that same one to bring you through to the victory.

[1] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., Merrill Tenney and James Boice, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 468. [2] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 934. [3] David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, vol. 52A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1997), 352. [4] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 935. [5] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., Merrill Tenney and James Boice, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 468. [6] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 935. [7] David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, vol. 52A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1997), 353. [8] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 351. [9] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 935-936. [10] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., Merrill Tenney and James Boice, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 468. [11] David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, vol. 52A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1997), 352. [12] David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, vol. 52A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1997), 352. [13] David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, vol. 52A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1997), 352. [14] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., Merrill Tenney and James Boice, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 468. [15] David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, vol. 52A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1997), 354. [16]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 5:7. [17] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., Merrill Tenney and James Boice, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 468. [18] Damon C. Dodd, The Book of Revelation, Clear Study Series (Nashville, TN: Randall House Publications, 2000), 22. [19] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 936. [20] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 353.

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