The Apostle John’s story fascinates me: A simple fisherman, he was called by Jesus and lived alongside Him throughout His earthly ministry. John took Jesus’ mother Mary under his wing and cared for her, as requested by Jesus. He suffered flogging, imprisonment, interrogation, and exile. John’s brother and fellow apostle James was killed early on by the sword. John lived longer than any other apostle, pastoring in Ephesus, and was eventually banished to the Isle of Patmos in his old age. John wrote the fourth Gospel, three epistles, and the book of Revelation.
Perhaps when John’s life was bleakest, the Lord met him in the most unimaginable way. As he worshiped on the Sabbath while in exile, he witnessed the most magnificent and terrifying vision of the Lord and fell to the ground as though dead. The Lord laid his hand on John and comforted him, and then tasked John with recording the vision and his words to send to the seven churches in Asia. Imagine John’s reaction as he witnessed the following (Revelation 5.2-5 NIV):
Then I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ But no one in heaven or on earth could open the scroll or even look inside. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then, one of the elders said to me, ‘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 the seven seals.’
As he looks, what does John see? A glorious, golden, triumphant lion? No, he looks and sees a Lamb, broken as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne… surrounded by four other-worldly creatures and 24 elders who sang a new song and worshiped.
What a paradox, two distinct visions: a mighty, triumphant lion, and then… a lowly, damaged lamb, as if slain. Two seemingly contradictory visions of Jesus. I imagine John’s reaction after his great sadness. A mighty Lion fighting for him as he faced loneliness and discouragement, and a slain Lamb who took on his burdens and sins.
Who do I say Jesus is today? Who do you say He is at this moment in your life? Who do you need as you look towards another year? Jesus—our sacrificial Savior, the Lamb of God who offers us grace and sets us free…? Jesus—our triumphant Lion of Judah who gifts us the resurrection power of His Spirit.… ? He is both; He is our all in all. He is the great I AM. He is worthy! I invite you to worship Him as you listen to Is He Worthy by Andrew Peterson: