The secret of history

"Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb who appeared to have been slain...

Revelation 5. 5-6

Do you long for a magic formula which will make sense of everything? Well here it is. At the heart of his Revelation, given by God to the apostle John to encourage him in his exile on the island of Patmos and to encourage the early church in the agony of persecution, John is granted a glimpse into the nerve centre of the universe. There he sees a throne and on it sits God himself. This may come as a surprise to those who feel that the world is in the grip of chaotic, even malevolent, forces. But there is more...

In John's vision, God is holding a scroll containing his plan for creation. But no one is found worthy to break the seven seals which bind the scroll. Along with everyone else, John weeps in despair. Suddenly John is told to cheer up because "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" has proved worthy! John turns around to see the Lion and is met by... "a Lamb who appears to have been slain". I wonder who that is?

Darell Johnson, Homiletics Professor at Regent College in Vancouver, spells it out: "Almighty God brings the Kingdom of the heavens to earth through sacrificial love." That sacrificial love is of course what finds expression in Jesus' life and death on the cross. That is what is means in John's vision when the Lion overcomes by becoming a Lamb. His resurrection confirms it! No wonder St Paul and others in the New Testament turn cartwheels to explain how the wisdom of God, which appears foolish to the world, does in fact make sense - but only when we look at our world through John's eyes or, rather, through the perspective which his Revelation provides.

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