In Revelation 5 there is a scroll, sealed with seven seals - that is, completely locked up. It’s the scroll that unlocks the mystery of life. What we’re for, why things are the way they are, and what is the plan and purpose of God in it all. St. John weeps because no one is worthy to open the scroll, to unlock the meaning of the mysteries of life. But then he is told: “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.” The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Root of David, these are royal terms - the lion, after all, is the King of the beasts. But when St. John goes to look for this king, this mighty lion, what does he see?
“I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and seven eyes.” The Lion, the King, turns out to be a slaughtered Lamb, and this slaughtered Lamb has all power (which is what the 7 horns signify) and all knowledge (which is what the 7 eyes are pointing to).
A King who doesn’t look like a King; power that doesn’t look like power; and all knowledge which doesn’t look like more than folly. This is the Lamb, our King, who stands today before Pilate.
And what sort of King He is, He tells Pilate. My kingdom is not of this world - of this cosmos, this creation. His kingdom is from elsewhere. And He is staging an invasion of this world, which is steeped in error and headed only to death. And the nature of His invasion, the power of His kingship, He discloses when He says: “You say rightly I am a king. I was born and I came into the world that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice.”
He had come to break open those seals and unroll that scroll, to reveal the truth about this creation, about where it’s headed, and about what God will do about it.
Pilate is not impressed. “What is truth?” he asks in scorn. A typical post-modern man. He doesn’t believe that you can know truth - each one can forge their own meaning, but it’s all guess work and so a rather hopeless enterprise.
But our Jesus, our Lamb, He IS the King of truth. He rules by revealing the truth, He conquers by vanquishing the lie, He triumphs by disclosing the hidden mystery of God.
And what is that truth He came bearing witness to? What is the truth in whose face no lie can endure. It is two fold. It is the truth that this Age, this world, this cosmos, is headed to death. Having rejected the only life there is - the life that is God - is has become subject to corruption. And it’s not just the cosmos, the world, but all the people who are in it. Everyone of them has rejected and turned from Him who made them, Him who longed to give them a life with Him and in Him that never ends. And so we’re falling to pieces. And we try to lie about it to ourselves all the time. We put off thinking about this inconvenient truth: the grave is our future.
But that is not the whole of the truth. The whole of the truth is that our King of truth reveals, our Lamb, is that God’s love for us is so strong that He Himself came among us, entered into this hall of death to breathe our poisoned air, to drink for the us the deep despair. He came to make the terminus of this world NOT be death and despair, but by suffering death Himself, giving Himself into it, to blast a hole right through it, wide open to the Age to come. He came to bear the truth that brings the lie that Satan has sold humanity on from the Garden to an end: “You can’t trust God. Better run from him. He only wants to cheat you of yours, and to make be a slave. He wants to take all the fun out of life.” Jesus blasts that lie to the hell that formed it. He reveals a God whose love for each member of the human race is so all-powerful that He will allow Himself to suffer in the place of all, so that all might be released from suffering. He reveals a God whose love for each member of the human race is so all-embracing that He lifts off the sin of all and bears it in His own body on the tree. He reveals a God whose love is so all-encompassing that what He did for all He would have done for each individually and alone if they alone had needed it.
The King of truth is rejected as a blasphemer, a liar, and a mad man, self-deluded. And so He is mocked. Whipped. Beaten. Abused. “What shall I do with your king?” “Crucify him!” they cry out. Pilate bears witness to innocence three times, but Pilate’s truth is ultimately expediency. Even though it’s a lie to give this innocent man over to death, he does so in fear. The truth as Pilate knows it goes no further than this: I don’t want to lose my job, to get a bad report about me, so even though I know he’s innocent, I’ll play along and let him die.
It is because He is innocent that we kill Him. It is because in Him there is a life that exposes the lies and the sham of our lives that we want to be rid of Him. But the truth He bears to us is that even in this ugliness and repeated failure of our race, God’s plan is at work to bring us blessing. Our Lamb, our Jesus, is like Joseph of old: “You intended it for evil; but God for good, for the saving of many alives alive.”
The people cry out: “His blood be on us and on our children.” They meant that they’d take responsibility for the lie that was being perpetrated. But then again, we look at those words and realize that the only way we and our children can have life is if this Lamb’s blood is upon them. So we pray with them, but in a totally new way: “His blood be on us and on our children.”
For this is the truth beyond all truths: that LIFE is found only in this Lamb’s blood - in it there is pardon bigger than all sin and Life stronger than all death. We shelter beneath the blood of the Lamb, our King who reigns by speaking truth. And with the crowds in Revelation we cry out: “Worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign upon the earth.” Reign with our King, our Lamb, our Jesus.