The longer I live the more I come to appreciate the spiritual practices of observing the seasons of advent, epiphany, and lent. They cause me to pause and meditate on different aspects of Christ’s life. I find it so enriching that each year, I discover a life-altering truth, a new insight, a deeper understanding, or a new awareness of two things: my great need for a savior and what Jesus endured so that could happen. This Lenten season I encountered God’s overwhelming grace in Revelation 5. As I studied it I was once again moved to my knees in worship with tears of repentance, gratitude, and joy streaming down my face.
I have read this portion of scripture many times, but this time…oh this time, I was overcome first by a profound sense of sadness, hopelessness, and despair. Listen to these words of indictment against humanity and creation, “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.” Did you catch it? No one – no one in all creation was worthy to open the scroll. Even as I type these words a sense of desolation, dread, fear, and anguish wash over me. In all of created history no one was found worthy. What a hopeless, bleak, desolate position humanity and creation finds itself. Overcome by similar feelings John begins to weep and weep with a grief that encompasses his whole body. Praise God that the words of scripture do not stop there!
The elder encourages John, “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.” I can just imagine John looking for a strong, powerful lion like Aslan, but instead what he records is this, “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain…” I wonder if John was puzzled. Not only was this a helpless, innocent lamb, but it was a lamb looking as if it had been sacrificed. How could a mortally injured lamb be found worthy? Where was the Lion of Judah? But then all becomes clear. I’ve tried to imagine John’s amazement as the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down in worship and began playing their harps, singing the new song:
“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.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
And if that wasn’t enough to astound John, suddenly he heard additional voices, the voices of hundreds of thousands of angels and together they sang more songs of praise: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” But the praise fest didn’t stop there. Scripture records that suddenly “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!’” What glory, beauty, love, hope, splendor, and majesty are captured in that moment!!
My heart trembles within and I am left breathless, filled with awestruck wonder as I read these words of highest praise. I can just imagine John’s heart suddenly filled with joy beyond description, hope beyond belief, and gratitude beyond human words. Someone was found worthy – the Lamb of God: Our Lord, Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, the first born from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth…..the one who was slain for our sins and punished for our iniquities, who redeemed our lives from the pit. HE is worthy!!! Glory! Glory to God most High!!!
Oh, praise you, Lamb of God. You are worthy of our thanksgiving! You are worthy of our worship! You are worthy of our love! You are worthy of our praise! You are worthy of our commitment! You are worthy of our trust! You are worthy of receiving all we are and all we do. So with great humility, profound gratitude, and hearts filled with love we bow down before you, offering ourselves as living sacrifices. May be we be holy and pleasing in your sight as we offer this spiritual act of worship.
In invite you to listen to the “Revelation Song” on YouTube and then slowly read through Revelation 5. Allow yourself to enter into the scene. Let yourself experience the emotions and glory of the moment. Succumb to the heart-felt desire to worship the Lamb who is worthy. Worship the Lamb who was slain.