Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Divine Mystery

I love the zoo.  Especially this time of year when it is a ghost town during the day.  It is a great place to get away and spend some good time in prayer.  In my most recent prayer trip to the zoo, I stood at the lion exhibit.  While I was there, the male lion was pacing around and walked right up to the glass where I was standing.  As it walked slowly passed me, he tilted his head just slightly enough to make eye contact with me.  I have to admit, I felt a little uneasy having this massive, powerful creature give me the skunk eye so close - protective glass or not.  But, by contrast, there is the petting zoo where you can find some sheep.  Talk about an opposite reaction.  Apart from the meerkats and koalas, the sheep may be the least threatening animal there.

Why do I mention this?  While I was watching the massive lion walk by me, I was reminded of Revelation 5:5, "behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered."  Jesus is described as a lion. Aslan, from The Chronicles of Narnia, has been an analogy to help us with this image.  In Revelation, especially, it is easy to see Jesus as the lion - the great, powerful, massive Lord before whom we tremble and stand in awe.  At His feet we will fall in humble worship.

But the passage continues.  The next verse says, "I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain."  A lamb.  A sheep.  In one verse, He is presented as one of the most powerful and majestic creatures one can see at a zoo.  In the next verse, He is presented as one of the least threatening.  The wonderful song How Great is Our God reminds us of these two components of Jesus: "The Lion and the Lamb, the Lion and the Lamb - how great is our God, sing with me how great is our God!"

Is Jesus a lion?  Yes.  Is Jesus a lamb?  Yes.  Is He holy?  Yes.  Is He loving?  Yes.  Is He powerful?  Yes.  Is He gentle?  Yes.  Our typical pattern is to bounce to extremes.  We can over-emphasize His greatness and power to the point where we have a cold and distant relationship with Him.  But we can also over-emphasize His love to the point where we talk about Him like He is our girlfriend, or our "homeboy."

We must avoid the trap of extremes.  Part of the divine mystery is that Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb.  He is powerful and majestic AND loving and gentle.  He is the Holy One to be feared and worshiped.  He is also the loving One to be adored.

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