What I want us to do is to think about one main question. What’s so unique about Jesus? There are a lot of religious teachers and leaders across the history of humanity. What’s so unique about Jesus? And I want to show you four characteristics of Jesus and who He is. And, I believe when we see those characteristics we will also see four reasons why Jesus is worthy of our ultimate devotion; worthy of our entire lives. I want you to dive into it with me.
What is so unique about Jesus? I want you to see that Jesus knows the ultimate problem. Jesus knows the ultimate problem and this sets Him apart from everybody else. Look with me at Revelation 5:1.
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.
Now obviously we don’t have time to study the whole book of Revelation this morning even these chapters that follow to see what’s unfolding in this scroll, but I want to give you a picture basically to summarize what is written on both sides of the scroll in Revelation 5 is God’s purposes, final purposes for all of His creation.
We know that way back in the beginning of this book Genesis 3 sin entered the world and it marred God’s creation, as a result of sin, which all of us are guilty of. I know there are a lot of people here, but every single one of us has sin in our lives. And because of that, we see the effects of that on the world in suffering, in pain, the things we experience as a result of our sin or even when we are trying to do good we still experience suffering.
So that’s the picture we’ve got from Genesis 3 all the way to this point. Now we’ve got God’s final purposes. How he’s going to bring an end to that, bring an end to suffering and pain and evil for His people. How He is going to pour out His blessing on His people in all of eternity as well as His judgment and that’s what contained in this scroll—the final purposes of God for all of creation.
So, this is a pretty huge deal. Your eternity, my eternity; bound up in what is written on that scroll in the hands of God.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “Well Dave, why didn’t God just open the scroll Himself?” Well, I want you to realize what that would mean. If God, who was completely holy and has so sin in Him, were to open a scroll that would unfold the purposes of His character for all of creation and if all of us stand before Him with sin in our lives having being disobedient to Him, the only option for us in all the eternity is what? Judgment and condemnation. That is clear throughout the Bible. As a result of the fact that we all have sin in out lives, we are separated from a holy God and the ultimate problem in the universe, please don’t miss this, the ultimate question in the universe is, “How can sinners like us be made right with a holy God.
We talk about heaven almost flippantly. We got to realize, in order to spend eternity in the presence of God there’s a sin problem that has to be dealt with in order for that to happen. So we don’t want God to open the scroll without a mediator between Him and us that takes care of that problem. So, I want you to see that because of our sin we stand before a holy God two characteristics that I think we see in this passage.
You see, what happens is, verse 3 says, “No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it”, and verse 4 says, “[John] wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside” (Rev. 5:3–4). Because of our sin we stand before a holy God. Hopeless, number one.
Now I want you to imagine with me; this scroll, if it holds the end of suffering, the end of pain, God fully bring His blessing on His creation restoring it back to what He created it to be. Imagine reading this in the first century. These were a people who were experiencing a pretty deep persecution because they were Christians. They’d experienced a lot of suffering in their families. Some guy’s wives had died, husbands had been killed, and then murdered, they’d been martyred. They’d seen their children taken away from them. They’d experienced pain and at this point John sees that, that which brings an end to all of this. God’s blessing is for restoring things the way they should be, an end to the suffering, the pain and he sees that at the right hand of God but nobody is able to open it. That’s why we see John, not just weeping but it says he wept, and he wept, and emphasized it. This is huge because the hope of something different is gone in this picture.
It's the same kind of questions we ask today. If you've suffered, there may be times when you've been close to losing hope. Is this ever going to end? Is it ever going to get better? There is a hope that there is going to be a difference one day that something is going to change and everything is going to be made right. That's the hope we hold onto. But if nobody's able to open the scroll, it takes hope away completely. I want you to see the gravity of this situation.
Not only hopeless, but because of sin we stand helpless and everyone looked around and no one was able to help them out of this situation. Nobody is able to go into the presence of God. Who's got the credentials to go right up to God and grab the scroll? Pretty bold move.
This is important, because you have to remember what's at stake. Our very eternity. So they look around. How about Abraham? After all, he was the father of the people of God. He looks down and says, "nope, I'm not able." What about all the prophets? Not them either. What about John the Baptist. Nope. Paul? Peter? No one?
What about any one of us? Nope. We all have that pesky sin problem. But there's hope because Jesus knows the ultimate problem.
I want you to see what happens next. We’ve got the stage set with this problem. Now look at what happens in verse 5
But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
John is just weeping...he can't handle the hopelessness.
Now we see an extreme paradox...
Now we see a pretty extreme paradox at this point and we can’t miss it here. On one hand we see a conquering lion. That’s the picture that the Bible has given us here, of a Lion of the Tribe of Judah. I want to show you something really cool. This is not just a thing that kind of appears here in Revelation 5. This is something that was talked about thousands of years before that. Hold your place here and turn back to the very first book in the Bible. Genesis 49. Turn with me back there to Genesis 49. I want you to read how this whole thing got started. Way back in the first book in the Bible.
What we are about to read is Jacob speaking prophecy or words about the future to his sons. One of his son’s names was Judah which we just saw mentioned back in verse 5. “Do not weep the Lion of the Tribe of Judah”. What does that mean? Look back in Genesis 49 look with me at verse eight when Jacob is speaking to Judah.
“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Now this is hundreds upon hundreds of years before Revelation 5 is thought about. Look at this, “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?” (Gen. 49:8–9). Is this sounding familiar? Look at verse 10, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his” (Gen. 49:10).
Don’t miss this, at the very beginning of this Book it’s talking about one who is going to come from the line of Judah and this one is going to be the one it all belongs to. What we are talking about here in Revelation 5? The one who it belongs, and the obedience of the nations is His and He is going to come like a lion. That is what Genesis 49 says. Revelation 5 gives us a picture. John hears this voice and it says, “See the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; the root of David.” Isaiah 11:1 and 10 talks about how Jesus would come as through the line of David who was also through the line of Judah and He would come and be the root, the offspring, of David. Revelation 22:16, the very last book here, talks about how Jesus is the root and offspring of David. So Jesus is the Lion here that’s who is being talked about.
I want to show you something else that’s really cool back here in Revelation 5. I want to give you a little Greek lesson. I know that you didn’t come to church on Easter morning expecting some Greek lesson but I want to give you a picture of some Greek in this passage that you already know. There’s a Greek word in this passage that all of you, I am confident, are familiar with. I want you to look with me in verse 5. It says, “See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed” (Rev. 5:5). Some translations say, “prevailed”, other translations say “conquered”.
Now, the Greek word, the original language of the New Testament that’s written right here is a word that all of you are familiar with. The logo is on shoes. It’s got a swoosh on it; on the front of these shoes you see the word, NIKE. That’s the word here in the New Testament, Nikao, and it literally means “prevail” or “conquer”, “triumph”. That is what this word means. That is why they chose it as the name for this company because in sports we want to conquer and we want to win. So they sell this, they put this label out there, “Buy Nike, you’ll win”. I have worn Nike golf shoes before and I have never conquered in golf but it doesn’t work completely but I want you to see that is exactly what this word means. It talks about conquering and prevailing.
I want you to realize that Nike didn’t come up with this word. God did. And God used it to refer to His Son. He said, “He’s the one who like a Lion is going to prevail, is going to conquer.” You see in order to get the scroll you don’t just saunter into the presence of God and kind of try to slip it out of His hand. No, you have to walk in boldly because you have conquered.
That’s the picture we’re going to see first but don’t miss what happens next. So John is wiping away the tears from his eyes. He’s heard about the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Look at what verse 6 says:
Now, that’s a pretty incredible picture. John’s expecting to turn and see a lion and instead he turns and he sees this lamb that looks like it has been through a meat grinder. It’s a horrible picture of a lamb looking as if it had been slain. So I want you to see two facets of this picture of Jesus. He is the conquering Lion but He is also the suffering Lamb.
Now in questions the people have had about Jesus over the last hundreds and hundreds of years, many times people either go to one side or the other of this picture. There is a lot of people who picture Jesus as a suffering Lamb, as kind of a weak, a good man, but who really couldn’t; didn’t have a lot of power; really couldn’t get people to follow Him. All He did was hang out with this rag tag group. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who say, well Jesus was a great man, He was a great religious teacher with much power but they deny the fact that He died on a cross.
One example of that, simple example, in our world today is Islam. Muslim’s do not believe that Jesus was crucified on a cross.
I want you to see this morning in this portrait of Jesus that in order for Him to be the conquering Lion on the landscape of human history He had to play the role of a suffering Lamb. They go to together. In order to conquer and be able to walk into the presence of God and take the scroll He had to pay the price for your sins and for my sins. In order to make a way for us to be united with a Holy God, He had to play the part of the suffering Lamb. The cross was not an option for Him. It wasn’t plan B because things didn’t work out better. This was the plan of God in the universe to become a man and walk a road to a cross and die there to pay the price for your sins and for my sins, to take them away.
That's what's unique about Jesus. He alone pays the ultimate price.
Now, this is where it gets good when we really begin to think about this, what Jesus has done here because it says in verse 7, “He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne” (Rev. 5:7). Get the picture. Jesus walks into His presence, grabs the scroll, and takes it because He is worthy. It’s an incredible picture, particularly when we know the set up of what we have seen.
Just imagine. Some have called this the saddest day in heaven. This scene. That’s why John is weeping because he realizes the gravity of it. He’s standing there, he’s got tickets in his hand just like everybody else but nobody is able to pay. And here’s the scroll. Eternity, forgiveness of sins, heaven, joy, eternal life, sitting on the top shelf; It’s completely silent because nobody is able to pay that price and it’s an eternity without the hope that we are looking at. It’s in the middle of that scene things start to rumble a little bit and the silence begins to break.
When you and I are standing there at the throne of the universe with these tickets in our hands, having no ability to pay the price for that, it’s at that moment that Jesus Christ the Lion who is the Lamb steps up and He says, “I’ve got enough tickets!” He says, “I’ve got them all because I’ve paid the price for you! You don’t have to worry about your tickets, and how much good you can do or how much you can earn it because I have it covered. I’ve paid the price for your sins and I am able and I am worthy to walk into His presence, take the scroll and for you to experience the joy and the satisfaction in the eternal life that is held there. There is no more reason to celebrate than that right there”
That’s why we sing today that’s why we are here today. That Savior is worthy of more than our religious attendance and He is worthy of more than our casual devotion, our mediocre commitments, or being this thing on this side that we know about. He is worthy of our entire lives.
Jesus knows the ultimate problem, He pays that price. He fulfills the whole purpose here. I want you to see that Jesus deserves the ultimate praise. He deserves the ultimate praise. God help us. God help us in our religious subculture in the United States of America not to be casual with this King, this Savior, this Lord. He is worthy of more than us just getting dressed up coming to a place, and singing some songs and going home. He is worthy of everything.
What happens after this passage unfolds is things get really intense. Look at verse 9, it says, “And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation’ ” (Rev. 5:9). Don’t miss it. On that day, our worship will be new.
Our worship will be new, and don’t miss it, our worship will be never ending. What happens after that? “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” (Rev. 5:11). So the angels are getting in on the action. “They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ ” (Rev. 5:12). And then we join in, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ ” The four creatures bow down and they say, “Amen” which means it’s done, it’s finished, and they all worshiped and it didn’t stop and it’s not going to stop.
There’s coming a day in history when every single one of us will bow around the throne of the Lamb who was slain and the Lamb who won the ultimate battle and we will say that He is worthy. The question is, “Will we do that now or when it is too late?” No matter how hard your heart is, no matter how many times you say, “Well, I’m not going to call this Jesus my Lord.” There will come a day when every single one of us will bow the knee and call Him Lord because He is worthy and that sets Him apart from every person in all of history.
Will you bow your heads and close your eyes with me. I want you just to reflect on what we have seen from God in this passage and I want to ask you one ultimate question. I believe it is the ultimate question of the universe. It’s a question that every single one of us whether we are a child, a student, or an adult, senior adult and everywhere in between. Every single one of us has to answer this question in our lives at some point. The question is this, “Is Jesus the master of your life?”