SELECTED SCRIPTURE READINGS
I have one simple desire on this Christmas Day. I want to present Christ to you ! I shall not do that by way of my customary systematic exposition of a text, but by tracing some of the names of Christ used in the Scripture : Christ , the Lamb and the Lion . In Revelation Chapter 5 we find the only place where these two names are used in the same context .
The result of our Christmas meditation should be a renewed sense of worship and glory to God .
Christ was born to stir up worship in us . The news of Christ’s birth caused the angels to say : “Glory to God in the highest! “ (Lk 2:14) . The understanding of who Christ is restores meaning and purpose in life . We were made to worship . North Koreans were made to worship , but unfortunately many of them they worship only a dead human leader . We were made to worship the One , true , eternal God , who is not like a man , but who has manifested Himself for our sakes in the man Christ Jesus . Jesus is the exact imprint of God ( Hebr. 1:3) . He said : “ If you have seen me you have seen the Father” ( Jn 14:9) . Beholding Christ invokes worship .
That is what Mary did in response to what the angel told her when he said that she was going to be the bearer of God’s Son , and when she spontaneously composed the Magnificat ( Lk 1: 46-55) “ My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…” . That is worship !
I want you to feel what the shepherds felt after they had seen that baby in the manger at Bethlehem , the sight of which left them glorifying and praising God (Lk 2:20) . That is worship !
I want you to understand what that righteous and devout worshipper of God, Simeon understood when he saw that baby presented in the temple :
 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,  a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32 ESV) . That is worship !
May God deliver us from the boredom or the artificial hype that now generally surrounds Christmas . This boredom is seen in articles such as I have read on the BBC internet news on Friday (23/12/2011 ) , entitled : “ War on Christmas : Is this festival under attack ? “  . A picture in the article had Santa Claus in the crosshairs , which told me that they were aiming at the wrong guy ! His Name is Santa , and not Christ! He is fiction , Christ is real!
What interested me in particular were the responses of many hundreds of readers to this article. Some were just cynical , some were atheists , and others were Christians. Some said that Christians had hijacked an ancient pagan winter festival and had made it their own. There is of course some truth in that. I have never yet figured out what decorated trees and Santa Claus have to do with the Christmas story . Others criticized the unrestrained commercialism of Christmas , – there is also truth in that ! Some criticized Christianity itself with a heavy sarcasm and disdain. And, of course , there was not a little wrangling with each other as the many criticized each others comments about the meaning of Christmas .
I searched hard among the comments of these hundreds of readers to find some glory. There were some traces , but I must admit that I came away with a sense of what always feel when I come to this time of the year . There is so little real glory and worship that shines from this momentous event ! What has happened in Bethlehem 2000 years ago has been trivialized so much , that it now lies buried beneath a heap of cheap ‘Christmas magic ‘ .
The fact is that that this baby of Bethlehem is the Lamb of God , the Lion of Judah. I have chosen to look at these two names because they help us to understand Him whom we too have come to worship .
The story of Christmas is the story of Jesus and this story begins in eternity. He came from that eternal glory which He had with His Father before the world existed (see John 17:5) . From that place of utter perfection and glory He came (He was incarnated / born) into a world of finite realities and fallen beings.
After His baptism , at about the age of 30 He began to proclaim that the kingdom of God was near . By that He told us that mankind had been alienated from that kingdom , and that He had come to open the door back into that kingdom .
In this process Jesus points to Himself as “ the Way , the Truth , and the Life “ ( Jn 14:6) , the door for the sheep ( Jn 10:7) by which people could re enter into that paradise that was lost in Genesis 3 . The Bible records that people to whom He says these things find it difficult to believe Him ( Jn 1:11). This is because mankind by its fallen nature is so spiritually dead that they will not believe. (Eph 2:1) . Fallen people need something more than human ability to believe .
Any self effort to understand God and the nature of our relationship with Him will only result in creating another false religion/ cult . That is precisely what has happened in the world . Fallen mankind in response to that spiritual vacuum has gone of in search of God , but our sinful hearts will always create idol gods that suit us . The world is in a spiritual mess! We need help !
We need revelation ! That is what the Bible provides . That is why the Bible is important . The Bible claims to be a God inspired book ( 2Tim 3:16)
We need to be helped to believe . We need Grace from God to have faith in God. Like helpless babies we must be helped. Babies can do nothing for themselves. That is why the beginning of the Christian life is likened to a birth – the new birth ! “ Born to raise the sons of earth , born to give them second birth” 
We must understand who Christ is and where He has come from . If Christ is who he says He is , then we had better listen to Him !
We must understand what Christ came to do. Christ was born to die ! The cross becomes the all important focus. Why did Jesus die ? He died to take away sin –the obstacle between God (the Creator) and men (the created) . Without the removal of this obstacle it is impossible for us to have a relationship with God .
But how did Christ manifest Himself to this world ?
Two names are used to describe the nature of Christ : He is both a lamb and a lion! What do we mean by that ?
a. Christ the Lamb :
This metaphor ( lamb) was well understood in Israel . We first come across it in Genesis 22. Abraham has a very difficult task at hand . He is commanded by God to offer up his only son , Isaac, on an altar. Abraham obeyed and trusted that God would provide “a lamb for a burnt offering” in the place of Isaac (Gen 22:8). This happened in fact (Gen 22:13) , and it is illustrative of the doctrine of “substitutionary atonement “ : one dies for another ! This is what Jesus did . He was born to die for you !
Another prominent reference to a lamb is found in Exodus 12 – the Passover Lamb . This story also illustrates what Jesus came to do . His blood shed for us causes the righteous wrath of God to “ pass over” us . In the OT the institution of the Passover became a ordinance throughout their generations ( Ex 12:14) . In the NT , Easter which corresponds to the Jewish Passover has culminated in the institution of the Lord’s supper / Communion - an ordinance of the Christian church until Christ returns - a constant reminder that Christ died for our sins .
The fact that Christ is referred to as a lamb points to other important realities . Please note that Jesus did not come into this world in a spaceship from outer space and as a grown person ! He came to us as a humble baby - a lamb ! He was born to a human mother , Mary . And is it incidental that shepherds who care for ordinary sheep and lambs should be among the first to see the new born King ? Is not all this a part of the divine logic and a part of the divine symphony that conducts the events of the world and of the universe with such astounding wisdom and harmony ?
However it is really John the Baptist who first makes the OT- NT connection when he first sees Jesus. ( See John 1 : 29-36) . When he saw Jesus for the first time he immediately declared : “ LOOK, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world !” That was a prophetic utterance , and by this John helped us to see that the Passover lamb of the OT found its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ !
But it is in the final book of the Bible ( Revelation) that the term “ the Lamb” with respect to Christ is used in an unprecedented fashion ( over 30 times!!!) . “The Lamb!” . This is John’s favourite title for Jesus who by now no longer dwells on earth , but who at this time is the ascended Christ! In heaven , He still is the Lamb of God !
b. Christ The Lion
We have seen that the text in Revelation 5 brings the metaphors of “ lamb” and “lion” together .
Two natures meet in Christ , and here I am not referring to the classical formulation of the ancient creeds of the church that in Christ both the “divine and human“ natures meet . That is so. But there are two other aspects that meet in Christ : the tender and the tough - the Lamb and the Lion - the Saviour / Redeemer and the Judge!
The tribe of Judah is traditionally symbolized by a lion. In Genesis 49:9 Jacob, when blessing his sons refers to Judah as a young lion . Jesus was born in the line of king David in the tribe of Judah . ( see Matthew’s genealogy in chapter 1)
We need a balanced view of the person and nature of Christ , and here is the other side to His being. He is a Lion! A lion is feared. When the Lion roars all the other beasts of the earth must remain silent. In the prophecy of Amos, the Lord God is frequently compared to a lion . Amos 3:8 says : “ The lion has roared , who will not fear ? The Lord God has spoken ; who can but prophesy ?” Here is an aspect of Christ’s person and work that we must not miss . Yes , it is true that He has come as our gentle Saviour into this world . As the lamb He has not come a Judge , but as Saviour . He came to die for our sin .
That is the Good News , the gospel , the message of Christmas that brings peace and joy to the world . However , this is not a message that you can listen to in a detached manner . It is a message that you must embrace with all your heart . Like a child you must say : “ Oh come to my heart , Lord Jesus , there is room in my heart for Thee!”
The truth is this : If this message is not embraced , then remember that the Lamb will be the Lion to you . The Lion has roared . He has spoken . He has finished His work . What God needed to say to fallen humanity He now has said . He has sent you a Lamb . Embrace the Lamb , because if you don’t God remains your enemy, and at the end of days you will face a lion ! For a true Christian , He will of course for ever be the Lamb upon the throne.
If you have not embraced Christ yet , then I want to ask : Are you listening ? You must listen ! Right now , at this time there are so many people who will not hear this message , and it will do them no good to ignore it . Embrace the Lamb ! Now !