The Lion of Judah
Isaiah 53: 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
As we read Isaiah 53, which is a prophetic depiction of the crucifixion of Christ, we can’t help but find it somewhat disturbing. It was disturbing to view the “Passion of the Christ” movie. It was a spectacular movie, and for the most part scripturally accurate, but viewing it once was enough for most people.
But there were actually two stories unfolding at Calvary. There was the story we saw and the story we didn't see. What we saw taking place at Calvary and what really happened are two different things. And it may help us to change our perception of what took place there. It looked a certain way but it may in fact have been something totally different.
We look at Calvary and say, Oh, how horrible! Poor Jesus, How terrible! Those evil men just overwhelmed Him. How sad! He was like a rose crushed on the ground, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. How pitiful! How sad! Like a lamb led to the slaughter He opened not His mouth.
And all that’s actually true. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not speaking disrespectfully or lightly of the account of the Lord’s suffering or of our perception of it. Jesus paid an awesome price to purchase our salvation.
But the suffering that was not the only thing taking place at Calvary. We see what was taking place in the natural. But there was also something taking place in the spiritual world that far surpassed what was happening in the natural. A heavenly battle was raging.
John 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.
No man took Jesus’ life. He said that He laid it down of Himself, voluntarily, and that He had power to lay it down as well as the power to take it up again. Jesus said something similar to Peter when the soldiers came to arrest Him. He told him to put away his sword.
Matthew 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
It appears from these scriptures that Jesus was actually in full control. He could have stopped it at any moment. And we get the same impression when Jesus was before Pontius Pilate.
John 19:10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:
It appears that Jesus was still in full control. But He wouldn’t speak to Pilate, which is in total agreement with the prophesy in Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Why didn’t Jesus open His mouth? For the same reason He wouldn’t ask the Father for angelic assistance. If He had opened His mouth He would have stopped what was happening to Him. And His mission was to lay down His life and then take it up again.
I don’t believe that things were ever at any point out of His control. Jesus said I have power to lay down My life and I have power to take it up again. Those are some strong words. But that’s exactly what He did.
Isaiah's prophetic account said that we did esteem him stricken, or struck down, smitten, abased and publicly humiliated by God Himself. But even though that’s what we thought, that’s not what was happening.
Jesus went through Calvary willingly and deliberately with purpose and resolve. It was something He did with purpose and intent. It was not something that was done to Him. No man took Jesus’ life. He was never the victim.
In John’s vision in the Book of Revelation, John, the writer of the book, was caught up to the throne of God where there was a book that no one was found worthy to open. And it said the John wept much because no one was worthy to open the book.
Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain . . .
The lamb that was slain was actually the Lion of Judah. John saw a meek and gentle lamb that had been slain. That’s what we saw from our perspective. But heaven saw the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In heaven’s sight Jesus was the Lion of the tribe of Judah prevailing in battle and taking dominion. Heaven saw Him as the Mighty Warrior, dressed for battle, wreaking havoc upon His enemies. Heaven saw Him as the conquering King taking possession of His kingdom.
Jesus was never the victim. He was and forevermore shall be the Victor. The Bible says that He spoiled principalities and powers and made an open show of them in it. In what? In His cross. The cross of Calvary. We need to take a different view of Calvary. Jesus was the Mighty Warrior, redeeming us back from the powers of darkness, our conquering king, our kinsman redeemer. He was the Lion of the tribe of Judah prevailing in battle, roaring with a mighty roar of victory.
It appeared to be one way, but it was actually another. That’s revelation of the word. Paul said in one place that he preached Christ, and Him crucified. But Paul did not preach sadness, suffering and defeat. To preach Christ and Him crucified is to preach the conquering king, the Lion of Judah, taking dominion over darkness and oppression. It’s preaching the deliverance of the captives, and the declaration of the Year of Jubilee for all people of the earth. It’s the good news of the gospel. Amen?