Rev.5. Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 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.”
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne”
So often we ignore looking at books such as the book of Revelation because we think its all a bit weird with its apocalyptic imagery (which it does), but even so I think sometimes we throw the baby out with the bath water.
So lets look at this passage, starting with no one being worthy to open the seals of the scroll, no one was worthy.
Too often we forget the unworthiness of humanity, we are all sinful and have fallen short of God’s glory, no one can claim to meet God’s Holy and perfect standards.
All other religions are about impressing God by our holy actions reaching him by our noble efforts, but Christianity realises that this is folly because God is unattainable by good efforts, beyond our reach and our grasp.
No one is worthy.
Humanity is separated from God by our unworthiness.
Humanity has no hope in and of itself, guilty without defence, and must face the consequences of our unworthiness.
The only one who is worthy is God himself.
God is the most worthy one, the only one who is worthy to open the scroll and herald in his just and righteous judgement on the earth.
Yet God is not only worthy but he is loving, supremely and sacrificially loving and does what we could not have done, and opens the scroll.
This is God’s long ago promised rescue plan that he would save his people from their sins -their unworthiness-.
Jesus, the one and only human being that was sinless, pure and able to meet the perfect standards of holiness and righteousness of God. The light of the world that stepped into darkness.
Of Jesus Tim Hughes sang “You opened the way to the Father where before we could never have gone, Jesus count us as yours now forever as we sing this Salvation song”.
The almighty and all powerful creator that allowed himself to be crucified by his creation. Jesus is both the Lion of Judah and the lamb that was slain.
A God bold and brave, full of courage and able to face down evil, sin and death and yet a God who humbles himself “taking on the nature of a servant and becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross”… And this humbling brave sacrifice from God himself has allowed himself to be the one who is worthy to open the scroll to usher in the end of time when God returns as judge because he has been before as Saviour.
Jesus the “Lion of Judah” is used. The Lion -the King of the Jungle- is a picture of power, majesty, might, glory -a fearsome warrior image. Yet this Lion of Judah is “the lamb that was slain”. A slaughtered baby sheep. The image of sacrifice, vulnerability and death. In Jesus we see both.
A God who is worthy of our praise.
In fact the word worship comes from the idea of our “worth-ship”, we worship when he see what he is worth.
Jesus’ worth is beyond anything we can imagine or repay, the pearl of great price, paid the price of the sin that you and I have committed. Death has lost its sting.
“He (Jesus) that knew no sin, became sin for us that we might have the righteousness of God”.
So lets echo this great hymn of praise.
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and praise!”