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Chronicles of Christmas Lesson 3 - The Lion IS a Lamb

Chronicles of Christmas Lesson 3 - The Lion IS a Lamb

To many people, Christmas is just another day off work or a reason to party and exchange gifts. What is Christmas to you?

Transcript

We return today to some of the great truths of the Christmas story – in its fullest version.

Thus far, in our series we have listened to the song of the Emperor’s Son – the creative music of the great Lion, Aslan, who is the son of the emperor beyond the sea.  The song that Aslan sang at the creation of Narnia would become a picture of the story of creation by means of the word of God through the creative agency of His Son, Jesus Christ.  For by Him were all things created (Colossians 1:16)

Into fresh and innocent creation came the tempter.

C. S. Lewis illustrated this temptation with Edmund being offered a future kingdom where he could become the prince of the White Witch and later on the King of all Narnia. 

He’s tempted with a box of Turkish delight – the best tasting Turkish delight he had ever eaten.  And while eating it, he promises the evil one that he will to betray his brother and sisters to her, not knowing that his act of treason will demand his own death at the hand of the Witch.

He didn’t seem to care anyway about his future – so long as he had all the Turkish delight his heart could ever want.

By the way, there is some debate about this substance – Turkish delight – which is still being produced overseas evidently.  Some say it isn’t really sweet – it’s flat and has a kind of meaty taste.  Others describe it as sweet and firm on the outside and gooey on the inside.

Well, a gentleman in our church told me yesterday that he has actually ordered me a box of Turkish delight.  It will be arriving in a few days from the country of Turkey – isn’t that great?  A box of genuine Turkish delight is coming.

Problem is, I’m not sure I’m supposed to eat it!  I don’t know if it’s allowed!  I’ll fill you in on all the details.

Well, eventually, all four children, Peter, Lucy, Susan and Edmund move through the magical wardrobe and find themselves in the land of Narnia together.

Edmund slips off and tells the White Witch they’ve arrived and where they can be found.

It is the height of pride . . . it is an act of treason.   And according to the law of Narnia, it will mean the death of Edmund. 

So also, we watched as the Serpent whispered in the ear of Eve that she could have her own kingdom and rule as God.  We watched Eve take the fruit and eat it, not realizing it will mean the death of her for having betrayed the word of God.

There is an unshakable, irrevocable law of both Narnia and earth – “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)  C. S. Lewis calls the law in Narnia, deep magic – irrevocable magic.

When all seems lost for Edmund and the hope of Narnia, Aslan appears and privately speaks to the White witch.  And in that private meeting he tells her that he will offer himself for Edmund.  That he will die in Edmunds place.

The wicked queen is ecstatic!

That night, Aslan walks up the hill toward the jeering mob of monsters, hags and ogres.  He allows himself to be bound with rope and his mane shaved in humility as they taunt him and kick him, spit on him.

Susan and Lucy, who’ve been watching from a distance, bury their heads in their hands in sorrow as the great lion is put to death.

Eventually the crowd disperses and the Queen calls for her army to conquer the armies of the Lion.

Susan and Lucy walk up the hill and mourn the death of their Lion – their Leader – their King.

Hours later, as they were walking away, they heard a loud crack.  The stone table was broken in two, and Aslan was nowhere to be found.

They were filled with terror. 

C. S. Lewis writes of that moment;

“What now?” wailed Lucy.  “Haven’t they done enough already?”

But Susan put a hand upon her shoulder, “Wait,” she said, “Do you think it could be more magic?” 

“Yes!” cried a voice like morning thunder.

They wheeled around.  “Aslan!” they shouted – for it was the Lion himself, bright as the sun and larger than they remembered him.  “Dear Aslan!  Aren’t you dead?”

“Not anymore!” he answered.”  “This is a Magic the Witch knew nothing about.  A deeper Magic!  When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.  And now, dear children, death has begun to work backwards . . . come!  Let us run and play!”

Adapted from Kurt Bruner/Jim Ware, Finding God in the Land of Narnia (Tyndale House, 2005), p. 45

 

Who would have ever conceived such a plan.

But it’s true!  The law of treachery and death could be overcome by the death of an innocent sacrifice.

The son of the Emperor is a lion, but He solved the dilemma of sin by becoming a Lamb – and His willing sacrifice on behalf of sinful mankind would render the law powerless against the lives of those redeemed by His blood.

I took a tour through the Bible and found more traces of the Lamb than we have time to uncover.  They can be seen as early as in the Books of Moses. 

Let me give you 7 things about the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who is also the final sacrifice for sin.

Number 1: In Genesis chapter 4, the payment of the Lamb is symbolized

Genesis 4

 

Verses 1 & 2 tell us that Adam and Eve had two sons – one quickly after the other, the text implies.

Moses records in v. 2b, “And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.”

Cain grew up to become a farmer, while his younger brother, Abel, became a shepherd.  Both were honorable occupations – both were acceptable careers.

They had been well taught.  They knew there was a God.  They knew about atonement.  They had learned the principles of sacrifice.

At some point in time, they reached the age where they were to come and personally offer to God a sacrifice.

 

Perhaps Adam and Eve had taken trips with their sons to the east side of Eden where they could see the cherubim with his flaming sword guarding the tree of life.

Furthermore, in Romans 10:17 we’re told that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  

Though the record of Moses is silent, it is obvious that Cain and Abel were not left to their own ideas in deciding how God was to be approached.  They had been told the stories of the serpent and stolen fruit and the skins of sacrificed animals. 

Adapted from John Phillips, Exploring Genesis (Loizeaux Brothers, 1992), p. 64

Cain approached God with an offering of fruits and vegetables. 

 

Mark this well – Cain was no atheist.  He was conscientious, religious, and interested in approaching God.  But he demanded that he approach God in his own way . . . no bloodshed . . . no atoning sacrifice . . . but with something that represented the work of his own hands.

Ibid, p. 64

But Abel approached God by faith (Hebrews 11:4 tells us) and offered the first born lambs of his flock.

Cain’s offering symbolized religion.   

Abel’s offering symbolized redemption.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, the world is divided into these same two companies: those who hope to find their way to God by the way of Cain, or the way of Calvary

The way of Cain is a path created by the effort of human hands; the way of Calvary is a path created by the effort of God’s hands, alone.

So – the very first two descendents of Adam and Eve represent to this very day, the road to heaven and the road to hell.

In Genesis chapter 4, the payment of the Lamb is illustrated as the only way to approach a holy and righteous God.

 

 

In Genesis 22 the promise of the Lamb is prophesied

 

 

 

 

 

This is the event where Abraham’s faith in the promised Messiah through His son Isaac is tested.

The Bible says in verse 1 (ch. 22), “now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham . . . (v. 2.)  take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

He was told by God to sacrifice his own son – Isaac – on Mount Moriah.

Moriah means “foreseen of God.”

All of this was planned by God.

God had promised Abraham a son and through that son the lineage of the coming Messiah.

Imagine the heart of Abraham . . . and the potential reasoning in his heart.

Take Isaac?  Why him?

I can imagine Abraham saying to God, “Listen, I’ll give you Ishmael.  Let me put him on the altar.”

Oh no.  Ishmael represented Abrahams past life.  God wanted that which represented Abraham’s future life.

The truth is, you and I have little trouble giving God our past.  “Lord, all of the sins in my past . . . I’ll give you that . . . but my future; You want me to surrender . . . now? 

God doesn’t just want our sinful past – He wants our present and our future.

Notice verse 7.  And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.”  And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  8.  And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burn offering, my son.”  So the two of them walked on together.

God will provide a lamb!  But just continue reading and you never see the lamb . . . anywhere.

Isaac mounts the altar, Abraham raises his knife . . . v. 11.  But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  12.  And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God . . . v. 13.  Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and  Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.  Now notice verse 14.  And Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide . . . in the mount of the Lord it will be provided. 

Future tense.  No lamb now – but a ram.  The Lamb was yet to come.

Mt. Moriah is nothing more really than a ridge of hills. It would be a place where Solomon would later build his temple; the temple would eventually be destroyed.  Just a stone’s throw from the ridge of Moriah – the place where Isaac was offered would be a city that would be built called Jerusalem.  By the time of Jesus Christ, that ridge of hills was no longer referred to as Moriah, but it had been given a slang Aramaic expression, because of the way that one of the ridges was shaped.  It was now called Golgotha, because it looked like a skull. 

The Lord will provide a Lamb!  Abraham had prophecied.  It is significant to recognize the fact that the place where Isaac was offered as a type of Christ, the beloved son, offered as a willing burnt offering for sin as it were would be the very place where Jesus Christ would hang from the cross.  The prophetic statement of Abraham would indeed come true.  God will provide a Lamb.

In Genesis 4 the payment of the Lamb is illustrated;

In Genesis 22 the promise of the Lamb is prophesied

In Exodus 21 the illustration becomes even more vivid: the protection of the Lamb is personalized  

Exodus chapter 21 is a tale of life or death.

The people of Israel were slaves in Egypt, but God was coming to deliver them.  And he would deliver only those who wrote the signature of the Lamb upon the doorposts of their homes.

Only those homes with the signature of the Lamb would be spared death.  Every family must decide.  It wasn’t enough to be a Jew, instead of an Egyptian.

The protection of the Lamb must be personalized.  My friend, when did the gospel become personal to you?

Just this past week I heard about the testimony of a young man who’d only recently come to Colonial.  He had heard our program on the radio and when he heard on the program that I pastored Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina, he decided to find us.  He had been to church as a little boy, but when his parents divorced, church fell away.  Some of his friends had told him he needed to find a church . . . he didn’t know where to begin – until that radio program aired.  He drove into the parking lot and walked up to the front door, but then he struggled with coming in.  After a moment or two, he turned around and left.  The next Sunday, last Sunday, he drove in again and sat in his car in the parking lot.  It got cold, sitting out there in his car, and he decided to come in.  He came in and met a lady at the welcome desk who discerned that he needed to talk to one of our men about the gospel of Christ.  The two of them sat in the connector and the gospel was clearly shared.  This young man said that he had heard it before, but he knew that on this day, he needed to personally accept it for himself – his heart was prepared and ready.   He prayed and placed his trust in Jesus Christ.

The protection of the Lamb must be a personal transaction.  At some point in your life, His signature in blood-red must be written upon your heart.

The fourth evidence that the Lion of Judah is a suffering Lamb is found in Isaiah. 53 where the purpose of the Lamb is identified – turn to Isaiah 53.

 

The prophet identifies the Lamb as the Messiah – “Like a lamb that is  led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth (v. 7).  Back up in verse 5 - But he was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him.  And by His scourging we are healed.

Just as Aslan told one of the children, “Do not be cast down . . . evil will come, but I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself.”

Bruner/Ware, p. 11

So the Lion of Judah will become the submissive Lamb – stripped and mocked – taunted by humans and demons alike as He walked up the hill to die for the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve –  

Isaiah prophesied in verse 6, “and the Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

Evil will come, but I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself.

This is the purpose of the Lamb.

 

In John 1:29 the Person of the Lamb is recognized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John the baptizing prophet of God sees the young Messiah approaching him.  Jesus is 30 years of age, and according to the law in Numbers chapter 4, a man had to be 30 years of age before he could serve as a priest before God.

So, in fulfillment of even the smallest demands of the law, Christ is now approximately 30 years of age – about to enter the ministry.  The one who would be the final and eternal High Priest – the only mediator between God and man.

John’s Gospel records that public introduction of Christ to the nation – for when John the Baptizer saw Him walking toward him, he did not say, “Behold, the Lion of Judah who has come to take the throne of David!” but instead he said in chapter 1 verse 29,“Behold, - the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

What an introduction.

  • The payment of the Lamb is illustrated;
  • The promise of the Lamb is prophesied;
  • The protection of the Lamb is personalized;
  • The purpose of the Lamb is identified;
  • And the Person of the Lamb is recognized.

There’s still more to come – which John the Baptist never saw and we haven’t seen yet.

In the Book of Revelation, chapter 5, the power of the Lamb is magnified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revelation 5

The Apostle John is given a tour of heaven and shown the future of earth.

He is weeping in chapter 5 because there is no-one worthy to open the book and to break its seals.

In other words, no one is worthy of capable or powerful enough to control the future events of the universe . . . the seals of power and terror.  No one is worthy of that.

One of the elders says to John, stop weeping . . . behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah is powerful enough to open the book and, as it were, control the destinies of the nations.

But when John looks – he doesn’t see a Lion . . . he sees a Lamb, standing, yet bearing the marks of having been slain – perhaps a reference to the wounds in his hands and feet and side that he retained, even in His glorified body.

The power of the resurrected Lamb is magnified.

Not only that - the pre-eminence of the Lamb is glorified

In verse 12, all of heaven – the living creatures, the elders, the angels – thousands of them, times thousands fall before the Lamb.

Imagine that number.  One thousand times one thousand is 1 million.  But here, John records that there are thousands times thousands – imagine 500 million angels chanting together – singing their praise – and here are the lyrics of their song:

(v. 12) Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.  (v. 13) To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and forever, Amen. 

(14) 9As the elders fell down and worshipped) the four living creatures kept saying, amen . . . so be it . . . amen . . . amen . . . amen!  (Revelation 5:12-14)

From the Book of Genesis, through the prophets . . . through the Apostles and ending with the Book of Revelation . . . the message is clear.

Like a crimson ribbon, the sacrifice of our Redeemer weaves its way throughout the unfolding of God’s design and plan.

  • The payment of the Lamb is illustrated;
  • The promise of the Lamb is prophesied;
  • The protection of the Lamb is personalized;
  • The purpose of the Lamb is identified;
  • The Person of the Lamb is recognized.
  • The power of the Lamb is magnified
  • And the pre-eminence of the Lamb is glorified.

I find it interesting that in the last chapter of the last Book of the Bible – you find the Lord Jesus seated upon the throne; John writes, “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 22:1)

Even at this point . . .  as heaven and earth are newly formed for us to enjoy forever, we shall forever see Him in heaven, not so much as the Lion . . . but almost as if we are to be eternally reminded of how we got there too . . . we see Him as the Lamb.

The Lion was and is and will always be seen as and remembered as the Lamb for sinners slain.

The Lion is the Lamb.

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