“Why Is the Lamb Worthy?”

Categories: M. W. Bassford, Sermons

Revelation 5:10-10 presents one of the most stirring scenes in all of Scripture.  John has spent the previous chapter painting us a picture of the eternal glorification of God that goes on around His throne.  However, in the first part of this chapter, a problem arises.  God holds a book with seven seals, a book that represents His purpose on earth.  However, no one can be found who is able to fulfill that plan.

No one, that is, besides the One described as the conquering lion of the tribe of Judah.  John’s angel guide assures him that this One will be worthy. However, His appearance is not that of a lion or a conqueror.  Instead, He looks like a lamb, the meekest of animals, and a lamb that has been brutally butchered at that!  Nonetheless, all the hosts of heaven begin bowing down before Him and acknowledging His worthiness.

In this lamb, of course, we recognize Jesus, the capital-L Lamb of God.  He is indeed the One who has been given the name above every name.  But why?  Why does Jesus deserve to be worshiped by all the inhabitants of heaven and indeed by us too?  Why is the Lamb worthy?

Helpfully, the text before us provides three reasons.  Jesus is worthy to carry forward the purpose of God because HE WAS SLAUGHTERED.  This shows up in the first part of Revelation 5:9.  At first glance, this doesn’t seem like much of a recommendation.  Usually, when we go looking for someone who can accomplish a mighty plan, we don’t pick someone who meekly allowed his enemies to kill him!  In fact, we might think that choosing such a champion would only lead to our defeat too.

However, the fact that Jesus was slaughtered shows His worthiness in several different ways.  First, it proves His humility.  The purposes of the flesh might be best advanced by an arrogant leader, someone who dominates others and exerts his will over them because he believes he is superior. 

Jesus, however, did not and does not regard Himself in that way.  Even though He is the only begotten Son of God and literally is worth more than we are, He did not count Himself as worth more than we are.  Instead, He humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on the cross. 

Second, Jesus’ willingness to be slaughtered shows His obedience.  He did not come to earth or die on His own initiative.  This was not Jesus’ idea.  It was God’s idea.  God asked Him to leave behind the eternal glories of heaven for death on a criminal’s cross, and Jesus did it, just as He did everything else His Father asked of Him. 

Finally, Jesus’ death shows His love.  In John 15, Jesus tells His disciples that no one has greater love than to give his life for his friends, and we are the friends of Jesus if we do what He commands us.  There’s a problem there, though.  None of Jesus’ apostles did what He commanded, and we don’t either.  Jesus didn’t only love us enough to die for us as His friends.  He loved us enough to die for us when we were His enemies.

Second, the text tells us that the Lamb is worthy because HE PURCHASED US.  This shows up in the second part of Revelation 5:9.  Once again, there’s a lot for us to unpack here.  First of all, it tells us why Jesus allowed Himself to be slaughtered.  It’s because He wanted to redeem us from hell, and the only currency that could accomplish the task was His own blood.  The whole earth and everything on it would not suffice to purchase even a single soul from the devil’s bondage, but the lifeblood of Jesus is enough to pay the ransom of billions.  There are spiritual concepts that are impossible for human minds to understand, and I think that one of them is just how precious the blood of Jesus truly is!

Also, notice that the text says that Jesus purchased us for God.  In other words, the blood of Jesus didn’t merely cleanse us of sin.  It also reconciled us to God. 

This was not easy.  God is perfectly holy, perfectly just.  On our own merits, none of us could expect to appear in His presence and live.  He would destroy us instantly because of our sin, and He would have every right to do so. 

However, through the blood of Jesus, His great wrath has been propitiated, and God welcomes us into fellowship because Jesus has suffered what we should have.  When the price has been paid, no debt remains.

Last, this text tells us that those who have been purchased for God have been brought out of every tribe and language and people and nation.  In reconciling us to God, Jesus also has reconciled us to one another.  We know how hard that is.  Every time we look at the news, we see evidence of the divisions that lead people to treat one another in horrible ways.  I see no reason to hope that in this fallen world, human division and hatred ever will come to an end.

However, this impossible task has been accomplished by Christ.  We were many before we came to Him, but now we are one, and in Him, those divisions are far less important than the love that we share and the blood that marks us as His brothers and sisters.

Finally, the Lamb is worthy because HE MADE US A KINGDOM.  Look at Revelation 5:10.  This is deeply significant.  Most of us have trouble appreciating it because we’ve spent our lives as citizens of the United States, the mightiest nation on earth—for now, at least.  However, imagine what it would be like to be a penniless refugee, someone who couldn’t rely on any country to take them in and protect them.  Before Jesus made us His kingdom, that’s where all of us were.  However, Jesus is our King now.  He watches over us, and His might makes the United States look positively inconsequential in comparison!

Second, we see here that Jesus made us priests to God.  Remember how just a moment ago we talked about how dangerous it is for the sinner to approach God?  Now, though, we are not merely God’s people.  We are God’s priesthood.  Every one of us has the right to approach Him now, and we need no other intercessor but Jesus. 

The world is full of all kinds of self-described spiritual experts and holy men.  They want us to believe that we need them to go to God for us.  That’s a lie.  Because of what Jesus did, every one of us can seek His throne not with fear, but with boldness.

Finally, we see the one item in the list of the Lamb’s attributes that is a promise instead of an accomplishment.  He is worthy because we will reign.  This is not necessarily obvious.  None of us look like kings right now.  In the first century, Christians commonly looked very much not like kings!  However, Jesus didn’t look like royalty when He was on the cross either, yet He was.  The day will come when every proud thing that exalts itself against Jesus will be brought low, and His humble people will be lifted up.  The final proof of the worthiness of the Lamb will be in what He does for us for eternity.