In his classic book, Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton described paradox as an affirming of the white and the red but never the pink. Two seemingly opposing truths stand side by side, but never blend. The following life is a call to embrace paradox. We affirm the truth of the incarnation in which Christ remained fully God while becoming, also, fully man. We depend upon the truth that our standing with God is firm and secure, that we are “seated in the heavenly places with Christ,” all the while slogging through the daily routines that are firmly tethered to this earth.
In our celebration of Palm Sunday today, we see Jesus, the King of Kings, entering Jerusalem, not on a war horse, but on a donkey’s colt. He arrived at the city gates like a conquering king, but left on Good Friday like a “lamb to the slaughter.” Decades later, his best friend John must have looked back over his shoulder at this occasion while he pondered the mystery of this vision, recorded for us in Revelation 5:
I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 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…”
Jesus, Lion and Lamb
The Lion of the tribe of Judah is also a Lamb. He is the rabbi with the easy yoke and the light burden. He is the one who offers us rest; AND, he is the one to whom “all authority on heaven and earth has been given.” John Piper expresses this so well:
The glory of Christ is not a simple thing. It is a coming together in one person of extremely diverse qualities.”
In our Lenten journey together, we have spent necessary time pondering Christ’s sacrifice. The “glory of Christ” we celebrate on Palm Sunday is a glimmer of light, a foreshadowing of the celebration that will follow the anguish and the blood of Good Friday. Christ the Lamb offered himself to be slaughtered so the power of Christ the Lion could be put on display as he crushed death and hell in his powerful jaws.
Open our eyes, LORD, to the beauty of paradox expressed in your physical presence here on this planet, in your death and resurrection, in your weakness and strength, in your meekness and authority. May your gentle love and your fierce enabling inspire in us an unshakable faith. We pray in the name of the Lion and the Lamb,
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