Jesus- The Lion and the Lamb

We made it to March! Spring is getting closer (hopefully) and that brings changes to the physical world around us. Did March come in like a lion and out like a lamb in your neck of the woods or the other way around?  That “Lion and Lamb” saying started the wheels turning in my head.  Why is Jesus described as a Lion and a Lamb? Aren’t they complete opposites?

Jesus- The Lion and the Lamb

The Lion of Judah

Lions conjure up visions in my head of majestic, roaring beasts known for their fearlessness, power, and strength. We see lions referenced often in the bible. They boldly stalk, roar, growl, and devour.  So why is one name for Jesus the “Lion of Judah?”

And also, why not the Lion of Adam or Abraham?  Or the Lion of Heaven?

Jesus was called the Lion of Judah only once, and it’s found in the book of Revelation 5:5 (NIV):

“See! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.”

The Tribe of Judah

To untangle this mystery, we start in the book of Revelation and move backward in time.

The scene in Revelation 5 shows John, who observes God on his throne in heaven, holding a sealed scroll.  John hears an angel in a loud voice proclaiming, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (v2)  But no one comes forward.  There was no one in heaven and earth who had the authority and purity to open the scroll.

John cried bitterly because while all of heaven held it’s collective breath, no one came forward. They found no one who was worthy. John understood the significance of the contents of the scrolls.  He wanted to see God’s plans fulfilled, not hidden away forever.

But an elder finally speaks up- “Do not weep.  See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed! He is able to open the scroll, and it’s seven seals.” (v5)

Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus

Our next clue comes in the book of Matthew.

Matthew 1 begins with the detailed genealogy of Jesus.  We see Judah’s name in verses 2 and 3. “Jacob, the father of Judah and his brothers; Judah, the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar” (NIV.) This was written to prove that Jesus was the descendant of King David and of Abraham.  The Old Testament predicted the Messiah would come from this royal line.

Jacob Blesses Judah

Then we go all the way back to Genesis to see how and where this began. (Don’t you love how God weaves all these threads together from beginning to end?!)

(A little backstory- Judah was Joseph’s brother and persuaded all his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery rather than kill him. He continues to act disgracefully (Gen 38) but has a dramatic change of heart and attitude later in his life. 

(His life is a fantastic testimony about how God can use anyone- regardless of their past- for his good purposes.)

Jacob gave his son Judah the following blessing and prediction before he died – “You are a lion’s cub, O Judah…. The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.” Genesis 49:9-10(NLT).

In other words, God had chosen Judah to be the ancestor of Israel’s line of kings, including the promised Messiah.

There would be only one ultimate true and eternal king and only one perfect man who could fulfill Judah’s legacy and be our King of Kings: Jesus Christ.

Jesus- The Lion and the Lamb

Pin me for later!

Our King of Kings

Jesus proved He was worthy to open the scroll by his obedience to his Father, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, and conquering death.   He is our perfect King who reigns over the entire world.  He alone possesses all authority and power over heaven and earth.

Only Jesus was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll.

I love the picture of our mighty, roaring, Lion of Judah.  He embodies strength, majesty, and royalty.  And as Luke speaks in 1:33 (NIV): “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!”

I expected our Mighty Lion of Judah to take the scroll and open it. Even though he is able and worthy, however, someone else comes forward and takes the scroll from God’s right hand.

The Lamb Who was Slain

John continues: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne… He came and took the scroll.” Revelation 5: 6a, 7a (NIV).

Jesus, our triumphant Lamb of God who took away all the sins of the world was the worthy one.

The angels even sang about it “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were slain.” Revelation 5:9a (NIV).

Lambs As Sacrifice

The Old Testament has many instances of using lambs as sacrifices for sin and to mark important occasions. These offerings were the repeated, temporary covering for sin that Jesus, our Lamb of God, came to abolish.

The Passover Lamb

Another lamb that comes to mind is the first Passover Lamb.  The Hebrews placed the blood of the perfect lamb on the door frames of their homes in Egypt to protect them from the final plague.  This became the “Passover”,  an annual remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt.

The Lamb of God

Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples one last time before his death.  He instituted the “Lords’ Supper” to commemorate his new covenant with his people.  He abolished the need to slaughter an unblemished lamb for forgiveness of sins.

Our Perfect Lamb went to the cross as our sinless sacrifice once and for all so he could claim victory over sin and eternal death.

The Testimony of John the Baptist

John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God” twice: “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (1:29 NIV) and again in verse 36.

This was a powerful testimony of Jesus’ character and his purpose in Jesus’ day.  A lamb was sacrificed twice a day, every day, in the temple for the sins of the people.  Then here comes John proclaiming Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God and Savior who would take away their sins.

Lessons from the Lion and the Lamb

Jesus was revealed as a lion– our powerful King of royal heritage.  He is majestic and fierce in His love for us.  He conquered sin and death by His mighty work and strength so we can live in eternity with him.

Jesus was revealed as a lamb – our precious, perfect redeemer.  He offered himself up as an innocent yet perfect, obedient Lamb for our sacrifice.

Our royal King came down off his throne in Heaven to be born into humble beginnings as a human man.  He took on our sins and became our perfect, innocent, sacrificial lamb.


How does your praise show the attributes of Jesus as King of Kings?  As our meek and sacrificial lamb?

How does the image of Jesus as a powerful and brave lion comfort you in trials? ( “A lion is mighty and retreats before nothing” Proverbs 30:30 NIV)

Do you trust in the power of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, to help you powerfully overcome your problems and conquer your fears?

Ask the Holy Spirit to cultivate the following attributes of Jesus in yourself:

As the Lamb: humility, a servant’s heart, compassion, and mercy.

As the Lion: living as conquerors, as daughters and sons of the King, loving fiercely, and boldness.



Jeff Jacobs- Pixabay

4 thoughts on “Jesus- The Lion and the Lamb”

  1. This was excellent! A wonderful devotion to prepare for Easter. Loved the Chris Thomlin song! Thanks, Ann.

    1. Thanks so much Cindy! I’m trying to pick topics appropriate for Lenten devotions, so glad you saw the connection! I love this song so much too!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top