The Lion or the Lamb

I am a word person. I love how you can play with words to make a point or be humorous, how you can cleverly cascade copious amounts of words so they sound supercilious or stupendous, and, more importantly, how you can speak life and hope into people with…words.

But sometimes words fail to fully capture the depth and truth of an experience or person — like the first time I stood in the snow amidst the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Beautiful. Breath-taking. A sight like no other. A glimpse into our Creator. That experience was all of that yet so much more. Truly my words failed.

Jesus. There’s a word, a person. Someone I know, whom I love, but have never seen or met in person. And how I feel because He has done for me…well, words fail. And when I try to describe Him to someone who doesn’t know Him? Words always fall short.

The writers of the Bible did their best to use words to pass on to us their experiences and the truth of how much God loves us. Their words tell us that God loves us so much He sent His one and only Son to die for us, and these words help us to begin to grasp this love, but until we experience the love and atonement for ourselves…these words don’t capture the breadth of it. They don’t come close to conveying how deep and wide the love of God is for us.

Sometimes biblical writers used words and images we’re familiar with to try to draw a comparison so we can relate — things like mustard seeds and mountains as comparisons to faith and faith obstacles. Jesus himself taught in parables to help His listeners understand complex and lofty concepts like forgiveness, the Kingdom of God, and how faith in Him works.

So, how about words to describe Jesus — Savior, Redeemer, Son of God, Christ, Messiah. All accurate. And depending on what quality or characteristic of Jesus is being conveyed, the imagery used to describe Him changes. Two images that came up in our study, The Gospel of Mark, were the Lion and the Lamb:

“…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot”  — 1 Peter 1:18-19

“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” — Revelation 5:5

As the reader, we’re to imagine what the writer means when he says Jesus is like a lion or a lamb. What do you imagine?

If you put a lot of thought in it, it seems impossible for one person to embody traits of a lion AND a lamb. I mean, don’t lions eat lambs? Aren’t they about as different from each other as any two other animals?

What do you think of when you ponder a lion? Strength, power, ferociousness. The Lion King, the animated movie, helped our generation remember that the lion is the king of the jungle. He’s at the top of the food chain, (yup, I’m singing “Hakuna Matata” with you). Simba notwithstanding, why would Jesus be called a lion? Yes, He is THE King of Kings.

And a lamb — that fuzzy, white, innocent baby sheep. In Jesus’ day lambs that were perfect, unblemished in any way, were the preferred sacrificial animal, which is why Jesus was called The Lamb of God. He became our final and most perfect sacrifice. His perfect blood atones, makes right, and redeems each of us.

So, in our study this week Lisa Harper asked this question — and I pose it to you now:

Which facet of Jesus–the Lion or the Lamb–are you more comfortable leaning into? Why?

Don’t be too quick to respond. Think a bit about Jesus as a Lion — what about Him as that strong king draws you to Him or offers you strength and hope?

And how about Jesus as a Lamb — what about Him as that perfect, sacrificial lamb gives you comfort and peace?

If you’re anything like me — it’s BOTH. I turn to the Lion of Judah because He is my defender when I am surrounded by enemies, my courage when all I really want to do is run and hide, and my hope when everything around me seems a chaotic mess.  I look to Him as the Lamb of God because He is my comforter when I am full of sadness, my peace when fear gets the better of me, and my truth when I need to remember He. Died. For. Me. In that light, what else do I need?

Jesus is unique for so many reasons — He is the only being who ever walked this earth that was without sin. He was BOTH fully human and fully divine.

Jesus is grace and truth.

Jesus is Lion and Lamb.

Words may fail. But the Lion of Judah, the Lamb of God never will.

Trying to let the truth of this soak in deep,


Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

3 thoughts on “The Lion or the Lamb

  1. Shelley
    Thank you so much for your words which mean so much to me. You asked the questions, “which facet of Jesus-the lion or the lamb- do I feel more comfortable leaning into and my answer right now is the lion. I need the lion right now to feel protected in a world that I don’t always understand, that often feels scary and violent. It may also be because I just finished Priscilla Shirer’s study “The Armor of God” but it is good to know that I am outfitted with the armor that only God can provide.

    This time last year however, I saw Jesus as the lamb, the comforter. Jesus carried me through with such tender mercy after the death last year of my father, mother-in-law and a turbulent work environment. Jesus as the lamb was with me every step of the way giving me comfort and peace.

    May our Jesus, the lion and the lamb always be present with us.

    Romans 8:38
    And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Niether death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries for tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from the love of God.

  2. I totally agree & yes it is so often difficult to illustrate perfectly with words what is deep in our heart & soul!! Jesus, The Lamb of God & The Lion of Judah; great visual words!!! Well written!!!

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