What do the Lion and the Lamb symbolise?
The Lion and the Lamb are symbols used in Christianity to represent a time in the future when Jesus will return to earth in clouds of glory and reign on earth, bringing joy and peace to all. Some refer to this new age as; heaven, the kingdom of God, or the world to come. Find our more here.
For Christians, the titles lion and lamb symbolise two aspects of the nature of Christ in which he is as brave as a lion and as gentle as a lamb.
Where does the term, Jesus the Lion and the Lamb, come from?
It originates in the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible, which tells us that Jacob was the son of Isaac, and Isaac was the son of Abraham. This is the lineage through which God promised to bring the Messiah into the world. As he was approaching his final days, Jacob called his twelve sons to him and blessed them as he foretold what their lives would lead to.
To his forth son Judah, he said words to the effect of; you are a lion and will have great authority and power. The Messiah, the king of kings, will be delivered through the tribe of the lion; then, all your authority and power will be passed over to him. Genesis 49:8-12 NRSV
Judah was the founder of the Tribe of Judah (symbolised by the lion), over which Israel’s greatest kings ruled; Saul, David, and Solomon. Jacob prophesied that the Messiah would be born into this lineage. Jesus’ genealogy traces back to King David, and by his death and resurrection, he overcame the powers of darkness. He took full authority from Judah as he fulfilled the prophetic words of Jacob. The term lion denotes his kingship, authority, and conquering power.
The Lion and the Lamb are also mentioned in the Book of Revelation
In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, the lion of Judah is referred to again. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, 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 NRSV
This scripture refers to Jacob’s blessing of Judah in Genesis, which foretold of the conquering power (in the form of a lion) the Messiah would have, and as Jesus rose from the dead, he defeated death.
The reading from the book of Revelation went on to say;
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered. Revelation 5:6. NRSV
At the annual Passover celebration, the Israelites would sacrifice lambs to God to take away their sins.
What does this mean for us today?
God sent Jesus to the world to be the Passover Lamb for us today, and Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
As the Old Testament sacrificial lambs were perfect and unblemished; so too Jesus was unblemished and innocent. He was the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world.
In one of his sermons, St Augustine said of Jesus, ‘He endured death as a lamb; he devoured it as a lion.’—Augustine, Sermon 375A.
Below is a link to a YouTube video I discovered of a wonderful contemporary song of praise written and produced in 2015 by Christian songwriters that probably encapsulates Jesus as the lion and the lamb of the Christian faith better than I am able to. Enjoy; it is well worth listening to.
Songwriters: Brenton Brown / Brian Mark Johnson / Leeland Mooring | Lion and the Lamb lyrics © Bethel Music Publishing, Capitol CMG Publishing
You can find out more about Jesus and the lion and the lamb in the links below