Lent Devotional: Jude 24-25
by Jonathan Haefs
Today’s devotional is authored by John Kegley
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And 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, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to 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 on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
On Good Friday, we behold the Lamb who was slain…
The Lamb who was slain… this is the leitmotif of redemption which reoccurs again and again throughout the drama of Scripture from the first pages of Genesis until the last pages of Revelation.
Abel was a shepherd, and the Lord looked favorably upon the offering of the firstborn lamb of his flock. On Good Friday, we behold the Father who has received the offering of his only Son, the Lamb who was slain for our sins.
The people of Israel were slaves in the land of Egypt, and in the culminating act of God’s judgment upon Pharaoh and redemption of Israel, he commands the people of Israel to spread the blood of a slain lamb around their doors so that their firstborn would not be struck dead by the angel. On Good Friday, we remember that we were once enslaved to the power of sin, yet instead of receiving the judgment we deserve, the Father has punished the slain Lamb, Christ, in our place.
God instructed the newly formed people of Israel to offer sin offerings whenever they sinned unintentionally or whenever they violated his commands in order that their sins would be forgiven and atoned for. On Good Friday, we behold the slain Lamb who the author of Hebrews tells us is a better sin offering because his blood is able to atone for our sins once and for all.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the Messiah as a sheep led to the slaughter, the one whom the Lord’s wrath is poured out upon so that we, the wandering sheep, might have life and peace. The Lamb who was slain was made sin, though he knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
In the Old Testament, the identity of the slain Lamb is somewhat hidden, but his identity is immediately and clearly revealed in the opening pages of the New Testament. Seeing Jesus approach him for the first time, John the Baptist exclaims “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” On Good Friday, we behold the Lamb who was slain for our sins, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity who assumed human flesh, the God-man.
In the Lamb who was slain, we see the leitmotif of redemption which runs through narrative of Scripture and finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. In the Lamb who was slain, we find the heart of God’s eternal plan of salvation for his people. In the Lamb who was slain, we behold the unfathomable love of God for the world. In the Lamb who was slain, we see God’s glory and character clearly revealed. In the Lamb who was slain, we behold God confounding the wisdom and power of the world. In the Lamb who was slain, we behold God as he is and not as we imagined him to be. In the Lamb who was slain, we see God suffering for the sins of humanity. In the Lamb who was slain, we behold the One who is worthy to open the scroll as he alone has purchased us by his blood.
Brothers and sisters, today, let our minds not rush too quickly to resurrection Sunday, even though we know that the slain Lamb is victorious and currently sits on the throne. Instead, on this Good Friday, let us recall the depth of our sin which nailed the slain Lamb to the cross. Let us remember our godlessness which crucified the Lord of glory. Let us sit anew at the feet of the cross and behold the terrible beauty of the Lamb who was slain for our wickedness. Let us feel the weight of the reality that on Good Friday, God appears to be dead and Satan appears to triumph.
Let us end our devotional by reflecting upon the words of the Isaac Watts’ hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
Forbid me Lord that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ, my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood
See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and Sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all