How Is Jesus Both the Lion and the Lamb?

Pastor, writer
How Is Jesus Both the Lion and the Lamb?

One of the most fascinating attributes of God is His omnipotence; meaning that He possesses all power. At the same time we read in Scripture that He is merciful and compassionate. When we can begin to understand that the God who possesses all power is the same God who is infinitely compassionate and gracious, we then can understand how He can be both the Lion and the Lamb; while the attributes of God seem to contradict one another, they do not.

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Why Is God Called the Lion and the Lamb?

Lioness looking up

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Lamb are two distinct names for God that are used in Scripture that describe elements of Christ’s nature. 

“But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. 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 5:5).

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29).

God sent Christ to earth to lay down His life for man. Throughout Christ’s ministry on earth, He was a servant; He did not come to be served (Matthew 20:28). At the conclusion of his ministry, we find Jesus during His passion being mistreated and reviled by Roman soldiers. They beat Him, they spit upon Him, and they mocked Him. Through all of this, what was His response?

“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 its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

Like a lamb to the slaughter. These words resonate within us because they speak of Christ as a humble servant, willing to lay down His life. He did not resist or fight back. But we must remember that His response was not weakness; rather it was strength, because He was keenly aware of who He was and what He came to accomplish. You will note that in Revelation 5:5 above it states that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed. What does this mean? It means that Christ overcome, and won the victory!

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What Does This Symbolize?

silhouette of cross against sunset background, expiation and propitiation

“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, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6).

We read in the previous verse of Christ as the Lion who had prevailed, however it is in the very next verse that we read of Christ as standing as though slain. This is a reference to the cross. As the Lamb, Christ was slain, but as the Lion, Christ conquered. The Lamb clearly represents all that Christ was and came to do during His ministry on earth; the Lamb fully represents the power and royalty with which He will come at His second coming.  We read this powerful verse:

“The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16).

Surely this roar is reminiscent of the Lion of the tribe of Judah!

But how can God be both a Lion and a Lamb?

This is all true for one reason; as stated previously, it is because the Lion and the Lamb are descriptions of two aspects of Jesus’ nature. This is because He is the victorious and conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.

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Where Else in the Bible Do We See This Language or Imagery?

Woman with an open Bible on her lap

One of the most powerful references to the Lamb of God tells us that it is through the Lamb that we too can overcome:

“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).

It is through the blood that Jesus shed on the cross that we can say that we are victorious. Victory is not something that we as God’s people have to search for, or reach for, or hope for, or even something to struggle for; we have the victory! All provided by the blood of the Lamb that was slain. 

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

There is only one thing that has the power and efficacy to pay the price that was needed to save us from our sins, and that was the precious blood of Christ. What is more precious than the blood of Jesus? O precious, is the flow, the songwriter says, that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know; it’s nothing but the blood of Jesus.  

“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’ And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’” (Revelation 5:11-13).

These are words that we will be shouting and singing throughout eternity! Worthy is the Lamb! As much as we may try, we will never be able to gather all that is in us to fully understand just how worthy He is. Our salvation is so very precious.

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What Does It Mean for Us That He Is the Lion and the Lamb?

praying in the spirit

It is important to remember just what the Lamb came to do:

“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed’” Luke 4:16-18

When we see the glory of the Lamb and anticipate the power of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, how can we stand in awe of this great salvation with which He has bestowed upon us? Glory to the Lamb and the Lion!

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Why Did John the Baptist Call Jesus the ‘Lamb of God’?
What Is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Revelation?

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Michael Jakes is an Associate Pastor, Bible teacher, and writer. He is co-founder of That’s The Word! Ministries, a distinctly Cross-centered outreach. He hosts several live weekly podcasts, including "The Bible Speaks Live," and "The Cutting It Right Bible Study." Michael is also the author of two books, The Lights In The Windows, and Churchified Or Sanctified? He and his wife Eddye have been married for over 40 years, and reside in New York. You can follow him on Facebook and Youtube and listen to his podcasts on Spreaker