Recently, I saw an image of a lion and a lamb lying together in the clouds and was reminded of the cosmic truth of history that in Jesus Christ, God’s love and justice meet, His mercy and His authority come together.
J.R.R. Tolkein speaks of the incarnation of Christ as the “euchatastrophe[i] of Man’s history.” About the incarnation, and especially its climax in the resurrection, he says, “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true.” The greatest fantasy is in fact history.
Another powerful image is to think of the incarnation as God on an adventure to redeem humankind. Imagine the Son of God leaving heaven for earth, exiting eternity to enter time, departing the perfect realm to enter a fallen realm. What kind of God would undertake that journey? What kind of Son would agree to an adventure knowing it would lead to his death? And yet this was the Father’s plan of redemption carried out by the Son, so that we might be saved!
The plan included a shepherd king, a king who was a lion and a shepherd who was a lamb. It included the lion (the foremost predator) and the lamb (the quintessential prey) lying down together in peace. It included the kiss of justice and grace, seemingly conflicting aspects of God’s nature, at the cross.
The Lamb will take away the sin of the world
The apostle John captures another dimension of this paradox as John the Baptist sees Jesus and declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! This Jesus who is the Good Shepherd is also the Lamb of God WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!
Years later, this same apostle reveals the coming end times. In his Revelation he cries out in anguish, “And I began to weep bitterly, because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look inside it.” But his sorrow is removed when an elder says, “Do not weep! Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed to open the scroll and its seven seals.” The Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, is heir to the throne of Israel’s greatest King, David; He is Lion of Judah.
But wait, we’re not finished. Let’s read it 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 triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.
As John turns to look at the Lion of Judah, what does he see? The Lamb of God. The Lamb that was slain is now the King that reigns! The Suffering Servant is the Conquering King! From Lamb to Lion!
Let’s worship the lamb who is the lion
This is The Story. The story for the ages, the story for all who will hear. This is the great euchastrophe.
Come let us worship and bow down!
The story ends with the return of Christ, and the ancient prophecy of Isaiah will come true.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
The Shalom Peace will reign. The lion will lay down with the lamb!
Celebrate for joy! Let us live today within the wondeful reality of this future!
– Darrow Miller
[i] Tolkien, in his essay Tree and Leaf, coined this tem to capture a distinctive of what he called “fairy stories,” that is, the ultimate happy ending, “the sudden joyous turn’ …. never to be counted on to recur. … Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” He held that the gospel is the ultimate-but-true fairy story of history.