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The Lamb at the Center

• Greg Boyd

In this sermon, Greg Boyd introduces chapter 5 of Revelation where we read about the vision of the slain lamb. This lamb unveils the nature of God’s character in a surprising way, as typically God is depicted as having lion-like character, but instead the slain lamb shows us what God is really like, how God works in the world and how God has conquered evil.

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In Revelation 5, we are reading about the same throne room that John enters in chapter 4, but now we see it from a different angle. Chapter 5 is about the infinite transcendent being of the one on the throne and his loving character.

This sermon focuses on the three relationships of the lamb, addressed in three acts:

Act 1: The Lion and the Lamb
Act 2: The Lamb and the One on the Throne
Act 3: The Lamb and the Scroll

Act 1: The Lion and the Lamb
The scroll reflects the power and authority of God, but can only be read by someone with a certain kind of character. John hears a lion but sees a lamb. In the Old Testament and apocalyptic texts, a lion is a symbol of violent power, which is the traditional conception of the Messiah. The lamb bears the marks of having been slaughtered, yet remains alive. The Messiah has the power and might and majesty of a lion, but he does not conquer by shedding the blood of enemies but by allowing his own blood to be shed for his enemies. In short, this powerful, majestic lion has the character of a slain lamb.

Act Two: The Lamb and the One on the Throne
A foundational conviction of Jewish monotheism is that there is only one who sits on the throne, the eternal transcendent creator. Yet the Lamb is depicted as residing in the center of the throne. John is saying that Jesus, the slain Lamb, shares the divinity and glory of the one on the throne. In fact, so close does John associate the slain Lamb with the one on the throne that he consistently refers to the lamb and the one on the throne with single pronouns and singular verbs. Out of love, the eternal, almighty, transcendent creator God became a humble, gentle, weak-looking, vulnerable slain little lamb.

Act 3: The Lamb and the Scroll
The scroll represents the true nature of God’s power, rule, and plan to defeat evil. The reason the lamb alone is worthy to open the scroll is because the Lamb alone perfectly embodies the humble loving character of the glorious one on the throne who holds the scroll. This is the central message of Revelation and of the New Testament, as Paul wrote,“ For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). While to the perishing world this looks like the epitome of foolishness the cross is actually the power of God. The cross is at the center of the power by which God rules the world and defeats evil. The slain lamb is the key to understanding who God is, what God is up to in the world and how God defeats evil.

Greg closes the sermon by leading us in a prayer that is written by Paul in Ephesians 1:17-19 to help us enter into the imagination of John’s vision in Revelation 5.

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Topics: Imagination, Love, Non-Violence

Sermon Series: Good Heavens!

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The MuseCast: June 18

Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 5:1-13

    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. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 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.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.  And they sang a new song, saying: “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. Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

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2 thoughts on “The Lamb at the Center

  1. Chuck Carlson says:

    Tom and others:

    I have a much different conclusion on the character of God, the lion eats the lamb! At this moment, the lion can only be thought of as Iarael, and the Lamb is Palestine’s 11/2 million who are being eaten by the lion!

    Most in our land ignore that the lion is the natural gas field being killed for its newly discovered Natural Gas. All those who work for Israel, say the lion’s share of the Kamar field is in Gaza waters. Not owned, but coveted by the “lion”.
    This view explains why all of Gaza is being leveled by Israel, mostly with USA bombs, so the rightful owner of “Kamar” will be either dead in Gaza or forced into the desert of Israel.
    Best to all,
    Chuck C


  2. Marlené says:

    You opened my eyes. Great sermon.

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