Mysticism

On the Lion and the Lamb

Ambrose Andreano
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Rev. 5:5-6)

When the Scriptures refer to Christ our God as both ‘lion’ and ‘lamb,’ it is not to suggest that He is, depending on the day, both ‘violent’ and ‘gentle.’ The word pattern in the text of Scripture, usually when concerning the symbolic visions of prophets and seers, is to "hear" one thing, only to "turn and see" another thing. In this passage concerning the images of lion and lamb, one could say the text is to “hear” the roar of a lion, only to “turn and see” a slain lamb as the source of the roar.

The Scriptures contain its own distinct mystical theology of violence/power/authority. Weakness is strength, for the Scriptures say “when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Nonviolence is violence (to the demons), for the text says "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12). Laying down your own life is power, for Christ said "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (Jhn. 10:18). Power comes not from slaying, as one might be inclined to think, but from being slain. For the text says "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power" (Rev. 5:12). The least is the greatest, as the Lord declares, "he that is least among you all, the same shall be great" (Luke 9:48). Christ commands his caravan to purchase swords: not because the swords of iron or steel is representative of power when used violently for its intended purpose, for the Lord rebukes Peter for doing just this, saying "all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matt. 26:52). Rather, it is because it not only fulfills the saying of the prophet concerning he who is "numbered with the transgressors" (Isa. 53:12), but it also iconographically depicts He, the "captain of our salvation" (Heb. 2:10), anti-Caesar, and divine centurion of angelic legions (cf. Matt. 26:53), of whom it is said “out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword” (Rev. 1:6), that is, His tongue, and the power of every authoritative word of divine truth that proceeds from it. The text everywhere contains this pattern of subverting the normative expectation to then reveal the mystic truth contained therein.

And speaking with regards to the Lion of Judah: the text reveals the only one who prevailed to open the seals is, not a “lion,” but the "Lion of Judah," who is the “Lamb who was slain.” For the prophet heard the elders say "Lion of Judah," but beheld not a lion, but the slain lamb, revealing that the lamb is mystically called "lion." This is what is meant by my saying one hears the roar of a lion, but turns to see the lamb.

Scripture says, “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” What is the meaning of this passage, depicting a military general already stained in blood before the battle begins? The meaning is this: the blood on His garments is not the blood of His enemies, as the reader would be conditioned to think. It’s His own. St John is again subverting the expectations, and is saying that true power is not in killing others (for we "wrestle not against flesh and blood," the apostle says), but is rather in killing death itself through self-sacrificial love.

Therefore, true conquest is not when you take another’s life: baptizing yourself in their blood, it is taking another’s death by baptizing them in your blood. The “lion,” therefore, is only in the text as a means to crown a bloody lamb and call it powerful. It is the lion that casts its crown at the feet of the only creature it cannot ever hope to kill or conquer, for this creature is eternal and cannot fall without taking creation itself with it.

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