Guest Blogger: Pastor Dave Phillips

Revelation 5:1-8 (ESV)

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

During a recent road trip, we listened to Focus on the Family’s audio drama of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. If you haven’t read C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, I highly recommend it for children of all ages. When the children in the book first come to learn of Aslan the lion, Lucy asks if he is safe. Mr. Beaver says, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Unfortunately, we often associate gentleness with weakness, with being timid, maybe even being wimpy. But Jesus, who called himself “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29), was far from being timid or weak. In our passage he is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. After a dramatic pause in heaven when it seems that there is no one who can break open the scroll containing God’s plan of judgment and redemption, the Apostle John begins to weep. There was found no one worthy to bring God’s plan into effect. No person could open it because all of us are evildoers and stand under the judgment contained in the book. Then one of the elders who hears John’s loud crying encourages him that the lion is coming.

We can imagine John waiting to see this emblem of strength, of power, of authority.  Imagine John’s surprise when instead of a roaring, muscle-bound lion appears a meek lamb, which looks as if it had been slain.  A gentle sheep that looked as if it had been put to death. Herein lies the mystery. The Scripture has proclaimed that the lion is the lamb and the lamb is the lion.  That great lion of Judah prophesied about by Jacob in Gen. 49:9 was the same lamb who was prophesied about by Isaiah in Isa. 53:7.  That descendant of Judah, that lion’s cub who returns from the prey, that ruler to whom belongs the obedience of the nations (Gen. 49:10) was also the one who was led like a lamb to the slaughter.  That symbol of sovereignty, strength and courage is also the one who took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.  Jesus, our lion-lamb was stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted, but he was pierced for our transgressions.  Like the Passover lamb, Jesus’ sacrifice accomplished redemption and victory.  It was through death that we could have life.  It was through Christ’s purchase of us by his blood that we who believe in Him can be made kings and priests.

By humbling himself and becoming obedient even unto death on a cross, Jesus Christ not only earned the right to forgive our sins, but he also demonstrated for us perfect gentleness: strength under control. And that is the true meaning of gentleness. We can’t rightly call a baby gentle, because babies are exactly the opposite: weakness out of control. Babies need an external controlling presence to care for them. They cannot be gentle because they are not strong. Of course, strength out of control is a much more dangerous thing. At a recent seminar on abuse, it was said that if you really want to test someone’s character, don’t give them suffering; give them power. Gentleness necessarily involves strength, but it is strength under control. Even as Jesus faced the unimaginable fact of his death on a cross, he did not waver in displaying perfect gentleness. Jesus had strength and authority beyond anything we can imagine, and yet he held this strength under control. Jesus reveals a startling truth about himself in John 10:18: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” Jesus didn’t call on the 72,000 angels he had at his disposal (Matt. 26:53), but willingly submitted to the cross.


Friends, do you hold any authority? Are you a parent? This is a position of authority which requires gentleness. When your child refuses to stop playing with their toys after you’ve asked them, do you react with anger and violence? Do you raise your voice or yank them by the arm? Or do you patiently and gently tell them the consequences if they fail to obey, and then carry through with those consequences with gentleness? The word of God instructs fathers in Ephesians 6:4, “do not provoke your children to anger” (Eph. 6:4). Paul set an example for the Thessalonians by exhorting, encouraging, and charging them to walk in a manner worthy of God, like a father with his children (1 Thes. 2:11-12). Our correction of our children may not be heeded very well if we fail to also encourage them when they do right. And of course, terrifying as it is, our children learn perhaps more by our actions than our words. We set an example for our children, whether we like it or not. Paul urged the church in Ephesus to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness…” (Eph. 4:1-2).

There are other positions of relational strength that require gentleness as a follower of the Lion-Lamb. Are you a manager? Do you have someone you pay to serve you in a restaurant, scan your goods at a store, check your luggage onto an airplane, answer your questions over the phone, deliver your mail, collect your garbage, clean your hotel room? How do you treat them? Are you rude and demanding? Are you indifferent and impersonal as if they were just part of the machinery? Do you understand that they may have had a hard day too, or do you think only of yourself? Paul tells masters in Ephesians 6:9, “…stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” Do you make threats to your employees or those who serve you? Or do you treat them as God’s image-bearers?

I want to close by reiterating what Pastor Billy said last week. Gentleness is not something that we can attain by white-knuckled discipline. It is not about pulling up your bootstraps, about just trying harder. Like all the other fruit, it is a fruit of the Spirit. It is sought by prayer but given as a free gift by that gentle Lamb of God. I love what Augustine wrote in his book Of Rebuke and Grace: “Learn from the law what you ought to do; learn from correction, that it is your own fault you have not the power; and learn in prayer, from where you may receive the power.” Let us pray that we might bear the image of Jesus, our Lion and Lamb.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did John weep? Do you weep over your sin and the inability of the human race to bring to pass the justice and righteousness required by God?
  2. What is gentleness? What isn’t it? What are some examples of gentleness that you see in the life of Christ?
  3. What positions of authority do you have? Where have you failed to demonstrate gentleness in those relationships? Pray that our gentle Savior might give you the fruit of His Spirit.


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