We often think of Jesus as a lamb, and rightly so. Isaiah 53:7 foretold his death by saying, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” He presented himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 1:29). So, we typically describe his character as being like a lamb—kind, gentle, submissive, and humble. But there is another side to who he is.
In Revelation 5:5, he is likened to a lion. There John recounts what happened in his vision of God’s heavenly throne room. He says, “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.'” He is coming to reign in fulfillment of God’s covenant with David, and this role will require him to be strong, powerful, and assertive. Though many people overlook them, we also see these qualities in his life during his first coming.
Luke highlights the lion-like character of Jesus in Luke 11:14-13:35. He records several examples of him boldly refuting error in the face of hostile opposition. As we study this part of Luke’s Gospel, we learn what we should believe from Jesus’ teaching, but we also learn from his example. He shows us how to relate to disagreeable and hostile people while clearly articulating God’s truth.
If you are not in a church leadership role, you might assume that these lessons do not apply to you. But Jude 3 tells us, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Everyone who follows Jesus must learn to contend for God’s truth. So, I have titled this study, “Christ the Contender.” I pray that it will inspire us to speak boldly for Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb.
– Bryan Craddock