What Does Revelation Say about Jesus Christ?

The person of Jesus frames the book of Revelation. In a previous post I argued that the major theme of Revelation is worship, so it is no surprise that the object of this worship is often Jesus as the Messiah, the Lamb of God.

The book begins with John’s vision describing Christ in terms of a Theophany (1:12-18). Chapter 19 Christ returns to this world as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (19:16). The most common description of Jesus in the book of Revelation is as a “Lamb,” appearing some 28 times in the book (Rev 5:6, 12-13). This is a natural extension of the theology of the Gospel of John, which clearly describes Jesus Christ as the perfect Sacrificial Lamb to save the world from its sins (John 1:29, 36).

Obviously the image of a Lamb was intended to evoke a sacrificed animal. When no one is found worthy to open the scroll in Revelation 5, John weeps bitterly. And angel tells him that the “Lion of Judah” has triumphed and his worthy to open the scroll. But when John looks to see the Lion of Judah, he sees the “Lamb that was slain.” This lamb is on the throne of God ready to receive the scroll.

The description of the Lamb is somewhat unexpected – seven horns and seven eyes. There is no “lamb” imagery associated with the Messiah in Judaism, but it is an important them for the gospel of John. The seven eyes may allude to the number of times Christ says that he “sees” in the letters to the seven churches (Rev 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). That the Lamb was slain may allude to imagery of the messiah as a lamb “lead to the slaughter” in Isa 53:7.

While this Lamb brings salvation to the world, he is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He returns as a judge over the nations that oppose God (Rev 5:5, 19:15). This is intentionally ironic since a lamb is not a good symbol for judgment. But the Christ is both a sacrifice and a judge. Taking the Johannine literature as a while, Jesus as the Lamb of God is the subject of the gospel of John, while the image of Jesus as a conquering king is the subject of Revelation. Both roles are important in John’s theology of Jesus as Messiah, Son of God.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus is equal to God and equally worthy of the praise of all creation. John intentionally equates the “one who sits on the throne” and the Lamb by using the same words applied to God in 4:11 to the Lamb in 5:12-13. In 7:10-12, the worshipers declare that salvation belongs to “Our God, who sits on the throne” and to the Lamb. Both God and the Lamb are “worthy of praise.

Bibliography. David Aune has an excursus on Christ as Lamb of God (Revelation 1:367ff ). See also C. K. Barrett, “The Lamb of God” NTS 1 (1954-55) 210-18; N. Hillyer, “‘The Lamb’ in the Apocalypse.” EvQ 39 (1967) 228-36.

14 thoughts on “What Does Revelation Say about Jesus Christ?

  1. Nice statement Phil! Christ the Lion and the Lamb, it seems theology today has lost Christ the ‘Lion of Judah’. Perhaps in fact it has been lost as far back as Augustine, and even our Reformers?

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  2. It is interesting that to see how John brings Christ into the book of Revelation. His constant use of metaphor brings out some interesting aspect of Jesus as Christ. If I am not mistaken ( which I probably am) Jesus is never referred to by name. John is obviously trying to communicate the importance of Christ as sacrifice and Christ as judge through the use of these metaphors. Christ the lamb brings redemption as shown in John’s gospel (1:29). But Christ the lion is a conqueror (Revelation 5:5). As pointed out, John turns to see the Lion in Revelation 5 and then sees a Lamb instead, the Lamb who was slain. This shows that both sacrifice and conqueror are both found in Christ.

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  3. I love the imagery here. I picture the sacrificial lamb an the “lion of Judah” being one and the same. John uses the lamb as describing Jesus. He is comparing Jesus to a sacrificial lamb. Jesus is the sacrifice. However, Jesus is also the “lion of Judah”. He will come and destroy all evil and judge the nations that oppose God. The lamb who was slain will return as a judge and a lion. I love how John brings out both the lamb and the lion imagery for Christ. John seeks to show that Jesus is the salvation for the world. He also seeks to show that Jesus is worthy of all of our praises. He is the mighty lion and the mighty king. It’s great to think of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb. I love thinking off Him in this way. I love picturing Him as my savior; the one who paid all of my debts, who sacrificed himself that I may live. It is also important, however, to not forget that Jesus is the Lion, the Judge and the King of kings.

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  4. These passages direct readers to the centrality of Christ. Jesus Christ should be the focus of every believer. They should lean and trust on Him. Christ is the victor. He will and has defeated Satan, sin, and death. He was crucified on the cross for our sins; hence, the imagery of Jesus as a slain lamb. We have hope and assurance of our eternity in heaven because of Christ. He is worthy of all our praise and thankfulness.

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  5. My kids are reading a book about Revelation right now and the first thing it stated was that if Jesus isn’t the central theme of your study of the book, you are wasting a lot of time! It’s easy to get lost in that book but you are correct, if Jesus remains at the center of it, there is so much to get out of it!

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  6. If you say, “could be” then I can agree. John the Baptist is not the only one who can use Lamb of God language. Have you read the introduction to J. Massyngberde Ford’s commentary on Revelation? She argues the core of Revelation is the preaching of John the Baptist.

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  7. I have always been apprehensive when approaching the book of Revelation. I am unsure if I just did not want to study it because I knew it would be confusing or if maybe I was just fearful of what would actually take place in the future. Revelation seemed to just be a judgmental book. A book where people would reap what they sowed. When I finally had the opportunity to take a class on Revelation I found that Jesus was truly the center of the book. Jesus is the Shepherd Messiah. Revelation contains a lot of persecution and one could wonder how a loving God could let His people go through something like that. Revelation, centered on Jesus, shows Jesus as shepherding and protecting. Through all of the suffering that people go through, Jesus is there because he cares for His people. This is shown throughout the book of Revelation.
    -McKenzie McCord-

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  8. This is a very interesting post of how Jesus is portrayed through the book of Revelation. Revelation 5 provides a fantastic detail of Jesus in the book, I find it really cool that the lamb is portrayed as a lion, because the two types of animals are totally different from each other. The lion is a big strong animal, and the lamb is a small little weak animal, but when Jesus died as the lamb he became the lion through his death. It is amazing that we are able to worship Jesus just as how we worship God, because in Revelation they are seen as equal, and both are equal of praise.

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  9. The imagery in here blows my mind. I always found it creepy that a sheep had seven eyes in this text. It makes sense that it is representing Jesus seeing. I also, love the reference to God being portrayed as a lion and lamb. God is a gentle father, but a protector as well. He is going to be defend us and love us fiercely. I love how the imagery can really expand on that.

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