The Lion of Judah and the Glory of Christmas

At Christmas time, many people have images of “baby Jesus”, cute and cuddly farm animals, a manger, angels singing, and wise men visiting from the East. And while these are elements that are important to the account of Christ’s birth, Jesus ultimately came as the sovereign King to die on the cross and then to rise again to rule and reign.

In the angelic announcement, we find these words in Luke 1:30-33: And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

This imagery points to the fact that Jesus would rule and reign as the King of the kingdom, just like his ancestor King David did from Jerusalem. But if we trace David’s lineage back further, we find that both he and Jesus come from the tribe of Judah. Judah was the fourth born son of Jacob who in time became the leader of the twelve tribes of Israel.

On his deathbed, Jacob pronounces prophetic blessings upon Judah, which find their ultimate fulfillment in King Jesus. Genesis 49:9–10: Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”

Judah is personified as a powerful and regal lion that rules with a kingly scepter. Also, it states that one day all the peoples or nations will come and bow down to him in obedience. This is a double prophecy in that it foreshadows the coming of King David to rule as king from Jerusalem, but in addition, it also predicts how Jesus would be the ultimate king over the entire universe.

We find the ultimate fulfillment of this in the book of Revelation where Jesus is the centerpiece of heaven forever! John is given a vision of the throne room in heaven and he sees Jesus as the triumphant Lion and simultaneously as the slaughtered Lamb. Revelation 5:5–6 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.”

In the throne room of heaven, all of creation bows in adoration at the Lion-Lamb King Jesus and sings the new song praising Him for the bloody cross of salvation. Jesus is the consummate King over all creation and we all owe Him ultimate allegiance.

So when you celebrate Christmas this year, ponder the birth of Christ as not only the little baby in the manger wrapped in swaddling clothes on a “silent night”, but as the one true King of all who will one day burst open heaven and return riding on a white horse to bring history to a close and to establish His rule forever.

Revelation 19:11–16 say, “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 1From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Is this the Jesus you worship? Is this the Lord and Savior you bow down to in humble adoration! Celebrate Christmas this year with the overpowering vision of Jesus as the risen King of glory!

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