If you were to ask someone to describe you as a lion or a lamb, most men would choose lion. There is something especially masculine and powerful about the lion. I love the soul of the lion – the reputation – that he can be declaredthe King of the Jungle. It’s not because he lives in a jungle. It’s because of his status in the social context of his pride. He is THE MAN.
As I watched a National Geographic special on lions one evening, I realized that that they certainly don’t do very much. Lionesses, now they carry the weight of the pride. They raise the cubs, they hunt for food, they scout the land. They’re active and they serve the Lion. Lions sleep. They sleep. And then they sleep some more. They sleep approximately 20 hours a day. They may do some hunting in the cool of the evening, but for the most part, they are quite lazy. What is so kingly about that?
Ah – but then it happens. The pride is threatened. Another lion comes into their den seeking to dethrone the reigning lion and take ownership of the pride. The lion arises from his sleep and thrusts his 400 pound frame at the intruder. Nobody wants to encounter the wrath of a lion that has been disturbed from his rest.
Throughout scripture we find nearly a dozen references to the Lord being referred to as a lion. None of them are good. Every mention in scripture is aggressive, confrontational, corrective. The lion of Judah rises against his enemies – those who would impress themselves upon his His holiness or His righteous people.
Jeremiah 25:38 says it this way – “He has left His hiding place like the lion; For their land has become a horror Because of the fierceness of the oppressing sword And because of His fierce anger.” When the lion raises his head, everyone around him trembles. Except maybe the cubs.
The fascinating thing about cubs is that they are much like human infants. They’re exploratory and inquisitive and mostly, they think they can do more than rationally possible. Every now and again while the lion sleeps they press their luck. They may bite at the lion’s ears. They may nibble on his feet or hang on his tail. Mostly the lion just keeps on resting… until he’s had enough. He doesn’t destroy the cubs – he just corrects them. They’re still his pride, but he keeps them in line.
We all want to BE a lion but we certainly don’t want to ENCOUNTER a lion. They’re not known for their pleasant persona.
Maybe this is why we find the balance in scripture. We see the Lion of Judah, but we also see the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). In Revelation the people of God did not overcome the enemy by the roar of the lion, but by the blood of the Lamb. It is sacrifice and servanthood that overcomes the enemy, not a stentorian roar.
In a world that celebrates the lion, the Kingdom of God exalts the lamb. Within each righteous man and woman is the boldness of the lion, but the lion is not redemptive. The lion is corrective. It is the Lamb that took away the sins of the world. In today’s age we must be willing to have the voice of the Lion and the touch of the Lamb. The pendulum should not dwell long on one side or the other, but ever passing between the two.
Some people want to just be the lion. It’s safe. The lion roars, people run, and others fear him. The lamb gets sacrificed. Who would want to be a lamb?
He understood that it is no measure of strength to lead as a lion. But leading as a lamb? That is sacrificial. It says, “I don’t exist to rule you, I exist to serve you.” Jesus did not come to be served (lion) but to serve (lamb) and give his life as a ransom of many. (Matthew 20:28).
The beautiful picture we now see is that we can be a lamb under the safety of the Lion. When people would rise against the lamb the Lion arouses from His position and defends the righteous. It’s God’s job to be the lion and our job to be the lamb. To lay down our lives for others just as Christ gave his life for us. The lamb can be bold, not because it’s a lion, but because the Lion stands closely behind with all authority and power.
This is what enables us to be AS BOLD AS the lion without having to BE the lion. This is what allows us to be the one who serves, not the one who devours.