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Revelation 5:11-14

Revelation 5:11-14 Revelation: the mere name strikes fear into the minds of many. In recent history it is associated with the world ending and the “faithful” disappearing in puffs of smoke; leaving behind only their clothes in a heap. It is a shame that the book of Revelation has come to have such a bad reputation. It is actually a beautiful picture of God’s grace: a consistent theme throughout all of Scripture. The book of Revelation is about Christ and not about how the world is going to end. Many tend to call it the book of “Revelations,” but it is not many revelations about what will happen at the end of the world. Rather, it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a writing that tells the reader more about the character and nature of Christ. The book of Revelation has undergone a great deal of interpretation, but then again interpretation is always taking place when Scripture is read. It is fascinating that no matter who is interpreting Revelation the symbols are never taken literally. For example, no one talks about literal horns of the head of the anti-Christ. There is always interpretation taking place. A lot of interpretation takes place with the book of Revelation because what John saw was obviously difficult to describe with mere words. I remember as a kid trying to recount a very detailed dream to my parents: “One minute I was on a mountain and the next minute I was flying. I was trying so hard to run, but it was like my feet were stuck in sand.” Dreams are difficult to capture in words and we are limited by the language that we have. The beauty of learning other languages is that one’s ability to explain things expands. My family is bilingual and there are many instances where a Russian words makes far more sense that an English word. We didn’t realize that we were integrating words so frequently until significant others came into the picture and felt out of the loop. I can only image how limited the John felt when trying to explain the awe, beauty, majesty, etc. of what he witnessed in his visions. Just a few verses prior to Revelation 5:11-15 is a reminder of the way the book of Revelation should be read. In Revelation 5:5 one of the elders in the throne tells John that the “Lion of Judah” is worthy to open the scrolls. John then looks too see a lamb, but not just any lamb. He sees a lamb that is standing with the marks of slaughter. This is a great clash of images between what John heard, “the Lion of Judah” and a “Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.” What John sees is an image of utter helplessness and weakness. The implication here isn’t that what John saw is weak but rather what he saw redefines power. Power is the slaughtered lamb. Christ did not conquer with a sword; rather, he gave his life so that we may live. That is true power. Christ is forever cruciform; meaning, that Christ’s character is forever stamped with the image of being crucified for all. Revelation 5:11-14 are two songs of praise that bring what was a somber opening in the throne room to a reason for celebration. The previous song of praise (5:8-10) was sung by the twenty-four elders in heaven. This is significant because each song of praise includes more and more people. The first: twenty-four elders, the second: too many angles to count, and the third: “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them.” John depicts here that all are invited to praise the one who is worthy. This part of Revelation is reminiscent of the Kenotic Hymn found in Philippians 2 saying that “every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Everyone will confess that Christ is Lord and he is Lord not because he roars like a lion but because he lives as the slaughtered Lamb. The Moravians** have a saying that originates from the story of two young men who felt called to sell themselves into slavery in order to share the love of Christ with the other slaves in the West Indies. As they men stood on the boat to be transported to slavery, they yelled out, “May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of his suffering.” This saying is the motivation for Moravian missions to this day. The young men who sold themselves into slavery saw their lives as the reward of Christ’s suffering. Christ suffered and died for them and so they gave up their comfort, future, families, etc. all for the glory of God. A mere three weeks ago we remembered how Christ suffered on the cross and then celebrated on Easter Sunday his resurrection from the dead. We should not only remember what Christ has done for us, but we should also remember that we have the opportunity to respond and participate in the redemption taking place in this world. May we remember that Christ has chosen us to be his hands and feet in this world. May we follow his example of serving others. May we be a part of the glorious host singing praises to the Lamb who is worthy. May we be able to proclaim as the Moravians do, “May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of his suffering.” **The following links tell the story of the two young Moravian missionaries in greater detail.