And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Many different descriptions of Jesus are found in the Bible. They all refer to the same historical figure who is the Savior of the world. We should pay attention to the different descriptions when they are used, though, so we can understand something of the writer’s emphasis in a particular passage of Scripture.
Here in Revelation 5:5, Jesus is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, which gives us a connection back to Old Testament history and the prophecies made about a ruler who would come from this tribe of the people of Israel. It reminds us that God’s work of redemption didn’t start in 33AD, but that it has been going on all the way back since mankind was exiled from the Garden of Eden.
Jesus is also referred to as the Root of David. David was the great king of Israel, who ultimately united all the tribes into one kingdom. His heart was devoted to the Lord more than the heart of his predecessor, the first king of Israel, Saul. It wasn’t that David did not sin or did lesser sins than Saul, but that David knew that he was bankrupt in the world without God’s redemption, forgiveness, and help.
These two references point out the long history of Israel that Jesus has fulfilled. They point to Jesus as the ultimate ruler, the ultimate king. He is the king with authority to open the scroll of history and make known God’s entire plan of redemption and he is the one who is bringing it to fulfillment.
Jesus is worthy of praise for his lineage. He is worthy of praise for his power. He is worthy of praise for his humility. He is worthy of praise for his mercy toward us.
This is more than churchy language. Think about what you want in a leader, whether a president, a CEO, or the captain of an intramural sports team.
You want someone who knows the history of the game, or of the organization. You want them to be connected in the lineage. Do they know what has come before so that they aren’t doomed to repeat past mistakes?
You want someone who is authorized to act, but not only authorized, but someone willing to act. Someone with authority and courage will use their power to take the next right steps in leadership.
Along with that you want someone who will not act in their own self-interest, but who will act in the best interest of others. A large part of humility means using the power that one has for the good of someone else, especially the good of those who have little or no power of their own.
Jesus, as the Son of Man and Son of God, has this lineage, authority, power, and humility. In His death and resurrection he has exercised those things on our behalf that we would be set free from the evil that weighs us down.
For that reason he is worthy to be praised with the highest praise as we wait for him to come again and finish the work of redemption that he has begun.