The Lamb-like Lion
42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
-Isaiah 42:1-4 ESV
Over the past two weeks I’ve been reading through an Advent reading plan. The passages center on, you guessed it, the Advent season. Promise after promise of a coming Messiah to set His people free, hopeful expectation of a King who will be like David and bring righteousness back to the land. A mighty conqueror who will set things right again. A gentle Savior who will rescue the weak and the poor. Promises of a new covenant and eternal joys; a restored relationship with the Creator. If that doesn’t get you ready for Christmas, I don’t know what will.
So, what do we really celebrate at Christmas? After you get Santa and presents out of your mind, you probably start to think of the nativity, the “silent night,” and the baby in the manger. But, the most wonderful part of Christmas is what that baby stands for. Christmas is so wonderful only because that baby grew up. That baby became the righteous king, like David. That baby was the promised Messiah. That baby was the creator taking on the creation. That baby was the mighty conqueror who overcame the world. That baby was destined to be sin for us so that we might be His righteousness. That baby died in my place.
And, while that baby grew up to become the might conqueror and our great High Priest, He also grew up to understand what it was like to be one of us. He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb 4:5). He knows that we are weak. He knows that we are frail. And this advent passage above promises us that, although He is mighty and strong and righteous (like a lion), He is also so gentle that He will not break a bruised reed or snuff out the faintest flame. I don’t know about you but I need those promises in my life. I need a Savior who is strong, like a lion, to conquer sin, death, hell, and the grave on my behalf but also gentle, like a lamb, to correct me when I fail and be ever patient with me as I grow to be more like Him.
I often feel like the bruised reed or the faintly burning wick. And at Christmas, I celebrate a strong, mighty, able Savior who reaches down and upholds this bruised reed and fans this faintly burning flame.
But even better is that He is not just those things now but will be those things forevermore. As we celebrate His first coming at Christmas, we also eagerly look toward His next coming when the Lamb-like Lion, who has overcome the world and was slain in our place, takes His rightful place as King (Rev 5:6-13):
6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!
Even so, come Lord Jesus!