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Revelation 5:1-14: The Lamb is Worthy Print E-mail
Sunday, 25 March 2012

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ĎBehold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!í  John the Baptist knew that God had big plans for his life.  He was going to be the forerunner to the Messiah.  He was going to point others to the One who was going to save them.  He was going to be the fulfillment of Isaiahís prophecy (Isaiah 40:3).  Others were confused about what he was trying to do, but John knew that he was to prepare the way of the Lord.  So on that fateful day, when he saw Jesus coming toward him, he cried out: Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  John declares to those around him (and to all who would ever listen) that Godís Lamb has come in the flesh to deal with manís sinfulness once and for all.  John believes that Jesus is the Promised One.  He knows that he is unworthy to even take off His sandals.  And he wants the world to know it.  He wants us all to see it.  So he raises his voice and proclaims: ĎBehold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.í

John, the Apostle, the author of Revelation, gives us a vision of the Lamb of God in Revelation 5.  This is a major moment in the book.  Jesus has spoken to the Churches and called them to repentance and perseverance.  John has described the throne-room of God and the worship of the living creatures and the elders.  Now he completes the scene with his description of the Lamb and the scroll.  In this scene we are giving a picture of what will take place at the end of the age.  And what we are told is meant to encourage us (and all the saints) as we await this coming day.  So then, what does John tell us?  The scene could be broken up into three movements: the problem, the resolution, and the response.  Letís look at each of these.

The problem (v. 1-4)

The scene begins with the mentioning of a scroll.  Look at verse 1.  We noted last week that God is seated on this heavenly throne and we are told in this verse that He has a scroll in His right hand.  What is the significance of this scroll?  The scroll represents Godís plan for all of history, in particular, His plan of redemption and judgment.  In order for that plan to continue, the scroll must be opened, which leads us to the problem in verse 2.  Look at that with me. 

Who is worthy to open the scroll?  Who is worthy to begin the consummation of Godís plan?  Who has the authority and the right to break its seals?  Look at what happens in verse 3.  Who is worthy to open the scroll?  John tells us that no one was able to open it.  No one in heaven.  No one on earth.  No one under the earth.  No one.  The people in power in Johnís day could not open it.  Neither the Jews nor the Romans nor any other nation could open it.  No one was worthy.  And so John weeps.  Look at verse 4.  John is broken over the fact that no one is worthy to open the seals and begin the consummation of Godís plan.  For a brief moment, he is given a glimpse of just how powerless the creation is when it comes to salvation and judgment.  We have no control over Godís plan.  We have no authority in His throne-room.  We are not worthy.  John feels the weight and the tension of humanity without a Savior.  If left to ourselves, we will never be able to bring about our own salvation.  None of us are worthy to open the scroll.

The resolution (v. 5-10)

But there is One who is worthy.  Look at verse 5.  One of the twenty four elders tells John to weep no more because One is worthy to open the scroll.  How is this One described?  First, we are told that He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.  Both of these are references to Old Testament ideas about the Messiah.  Judah was the tribe that would rule over the other tribes (see Genesis 49:9-10).  The Root of David is a reference to Isaiahís prophecy that a Divine King would come from the line of David to rule forever.  The One who is worthy to open the scroll is the fulfillment of both of these promises.  Second, John describes the worthy One as a Lamb. 

Look at verse 6.  He is both Lion and Lamb.  We will see the significance of this when we consider what He has done.  Before that, we need to note that John describes Him as having seven horns and seven eyes.  The seven horns refer to His authority and strength, again the number seven symbolizing perfection.  We are told that the seven eyes are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.  The Lamb has the Spirit of God, which is sent out to the earth.  In all of this we see that the Lamb is the Promised One, the Messiah that the Old Testament foretold.  Also, we see the divinity of the Lamb through His perfect strength and the Spirit.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, is the Messiah, God in the flesh.

In verse 7 we are told that Jesus goes and takes the scroll.  Look at that with me.  None were worthy to take the scroll except Him.  Yet, why was He worthy?  What reasons does John give us for the Lamb being worthy?  First, He is worthy because He has conquered.  Again, look at verse 5.  He is worthy to open the scrolls because He has conquered, He has overcome.  Yet, what does this mean and how did Jesus do it? 

Second, He is worthy, He has conquered, by being slaughtered.  John describes Him as a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.  In verse 9a, we see that He is worshipped for His sacrifice.  Look at that verse with me.  The language here is the language of sacrifice.  Christ, the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered all of Godís enemies, and all of our enemies, by dying on a cross for our sins.  The Lion became a slaughtered Lamb.  Through His defeat and death on the cross, He has won the greatest of victories, namely victory over sin, Satan, and death itself. 

Third, He is worthy because He has redeemed a people by His death.  Look at verses 9b-10.  Jesus died to save a people for God.  Who will make up these people?  They will be from every tribe and language and people and nation.  They will not be limited by geographical or political or social or economical or racial lines.  Any and all who turn from their sins and trust in the Lamb will be saved.  How are they described?  They are a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.  Christ is establishing a kingdom through His redeemed people.  They will reign with Him.  Likewise, they will be servants of God.  Their prayers will as incense before Godís throne (see v. 8).  And at the end of the age, the Lamb will return to gather up His Bride for glory.  This is why the Lamb is worthy.  Jesus is worthy to open the scrolls and inaugurate the last days of Godís plan of redemption.  He is worthy!

The response (v. 11-14)

So then, what is the appropriate response to the Lamb?  In a word, worship.  Just as the living creatures and the twenty four elders had worshipped the Father for being the Creator in chapter 4, they worship Christ for being the redeemer in chapter 5.  Look at verse 8.  They fall down before Him and worship.  Likewise, others who are gathered around the throne respond with worship as well.  Look at verses 11-12.  An innumerable host of angels join in the praise.  They too exult in the worthiness of the Lamb.  The One who was slain is worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.  He is worthy to receive all.  But the worship does not stop with the host of angels. 

Look at verses 13-14.  Every creature declares that Christ is worthy to receive praise and blessing.  John makes it clear that none are excluded.  All will praise the Lamb on that Day.  Some will do it with unspeakable joy, others with unspeakable fear, but none will be silent, none will ignore, none will put Him off for a better time.  Many will reject the Lord in this life.  They will laugh at the gospel, excuse their sin, fill their lives with other things.  But on that Day, one truth will be plain: Christ alone is worthy of our worship and devotion.  Unfortunately, as the rest of the book makes plain, this realization will be too late and will not be enough to spare them from eternity in Hell.  I plead with you, do not be His enemy on that Day.  Turn from your sins and believe in Him today.  Begin to worship Him even now so that on that Day you will rejoice with the redeemed.  The scene closes as it began with the living creatures and the twenty-four elders worshipping the Lord.

Jesus is worthy to open the scrolls.  He is worthy because of His death and resurrection that has redeemed a people for God.  He has authority over the end of days and the consummation of Godís plan of redemption.  The Lamb who is slain is worthy.  So then, how should we respond?  Let me offer two ways.

First, because Jesus is worthy, we should give Him our devotion and obedience.  Again, if you are here and you have never turned from your sins and trusted in Christ as your Savior, then do not delay.  Let today be the day of salvation for you.  If you are a Christian, then I encourage you to let Johnís vision spur you on to obedience and devotion to Christ.  He is the Messiah, the Promised One.  He is the Lion who has conquered.  He is the Lamb who was slaughtered for your sin.  He is divine, God in the flesh, who ransomed a people and made them a kingdom and priests.  He is worthy of your devotion. 

I read a story this week that I want to share with you because I think it gets at this point.  A woman named Charlotte was in her eighties and was in the hospital close to dying.  Her pastor, who had focused hard on the gospel and the grand story of the Bible and Godís plan of redemption, came to visit her.  She told him: ďI get it nowÖThe parts of the Bible make sense when you read them in light of the whole.  For the first time in my life, I understand how my salvation fits into the larger picture.Ē  After the pastor left, he got a call and a nurse told him that he should come back because Charlotte was getting close to death and was asking for him.  He rushed back and when he got to her side and sat down, she asked him: ďPastor, tell me the story one more time.Ē  He told her again about what God had done for us sinners, how He had sent His only Son to be sacrificed in our place, how He had promised to save us if we believe in Him, how He was going to come back for us one Day.  When he was finished, she said to him, ďItís trueÖI know itís true.Ē  After a few preparations, the pastor prayed for her again and she looked up and proclaimed: ďthank you, thank you, thank you.Ē  After the last Ďthank youí, she took her last breath upon the earth.1  May the story be that much to us.  May it move us to a life of love and service and devotion.  The Lamb is worthy.

Second, because Jesus is going to redeem people from every tribe and nation, we must do our part in getting the message out.  He is not just worthy of our worship, He is worthy of increasing worship.  So letís go and tell the world about the One who is worthy.  Letís tell them how He was slain to pay for our sins.  Letís call them to repent and believe.  Letís plead with them to join with us in the joyous expectation of worshipping the Lamb around His throne.  Amen.

1 Taken from a blog post that can be found here: http://www.challies.com/quotes/tell-me-the-story-one-more-time 

~ William Marshall ~

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