The Lamb in Glory
“The throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1).
The Lamb is Worthy
In Revelation 5 the Apostle John continues the story of the Lamb. John is carried in spirit into Heaven, and there he beholds in the right hand of God a book. The question is addressed to the assembled hosts of Heaven: “Who is worthy to open the book?” (v. 2). Searching through all the myriads of the redeemed, John can find “no man in Heaven” worthy to open the book. Then John searches through earth, but no worthy man is found. John begins to weep, but he hears one of the elders saying, “Weep not: behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book”
(v. 5). John turns to the throne expecting to see the all-prevailing Lion, but “in the midst of the throne … stood a Lamb as it had been slain” (v. 6). The Lion that prevails is the Lamb that was slain!
On earth John had heard the words, “Behold the Lamb of God” spoken by John the Baptist. He had followed the Lamb in His humiliation. He had stood at the foot of the cross and been a witness of the Lamb in His sufferings. He had seen Him when men pierced His hands and feet. He had seen Jesus as the risen Man on the evening of the resurrection day when Jesus showed His disciples the wound marks in His hands and feet. Now, transported to heaven, surrounded by the vast host of the redeemed, and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels—in the very center of heavenly glory—he sees “a Lamb as it had been slain.” He sees Jesus with the wound marks in His hands and feet, the only Man in all that eternal glory who will bear any trace of the sorrows of time.
As John gazes with adoring wonder, he hears the great host of the redeemed break forth into song—the new song—the song of the Lamb, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (v. 9).
The angels cannot sing this song, neither can they keep silent when it is sung, and so John hears a fresh burst of praise in which all Heaven joins—the living creatures, the blood-bought saints, the angels—all join as with a loud voice they cry, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (v. 12).
Earth cannot remain silent when Heaven is telling the glories of the Lamb, and so there falls upon John’s ears another burst of praise. This time all created beings in heaven and earth join in one great anthem of praise to God and the Lamb, saying, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (v. 13). The four living creatures add their “Amen” to this threefold burst of praise, and the blood-bought saints, with hearts filled to overflowing “fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever” (v. 14).
The Lamb is Mighty
In the course of the book of the Revelation, further glories of the Lamb pass before us. The scene changes from Heaven to earth and we are permitted to see the Lamb in His power and in His wrath, executing judgment. It is the Lamb that opens the seals and allows judgment to take its course (6:1). It is before the wrath of the Lamb the nations cry out in terror (6:16). Eventually, it is against the Lamb that the nations, under the leadership of the beast, make war only to be overcome, and to discover that the Lamb of God—the One they had despised and nailed to a cross—is the Lord of lords and King of kings (17:14).
The Lamb is the Bridegroom
Once again the scene changes from earth to Heaven, and we are permitted to see fresh glories of the Lamb. The destruction of the false professing church on earth makes way for the marriage of the Lamb, the presentation to Christ in glory of the true church. In this great scene there passes before us the bride, the Lamb’s wife (19:7), the marriage of the Lamb, and the supper of the Lamb (19:9).
The word “bride” presents the church as the object of Christ’s intimate love. As such He loved it and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1), “that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27).
The Lamb is Everlasting Light
One more scene remains to tell further glories of the Lamb. John is carried to a great and high mountain to see the bride, the Lamb’s wife, but what he actually sees is “that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God” (21:10). He tells of its jasper walls great and high, he speaks of its gates of pearls, the streets of gold, and the foundations garnished with all manner of precious stones. It is a symbol, surely, of the church displayed in glory, but more than that, it speaks of the glory of the Lamb displayed in the church.
“The Lamb is the light thereof” (21:23). How could the gold and the pearls and the precious stones display their beauty apart from the light? John seems eager to say, as it were, “In the midst of all the glories, and above all the glories of this celestial city, I saw the Lamb. The One well known to us in the days of His pilgrim journey, the One who walked with us, and talked with us, who dwelt among us full of grace and truth, who shared with us our poverty, who bore with us in our weakness, and wept with us in our sorrows, the One who loved us and gave Himself for us—this is the One I saw in the midst of the city—the Lamb of God.”
The glories of the city may captivate our minds, the absence of all evil will surely satisfy the conscience, but the presence of the Lamb will alone satisfy our affections, and make every saint at home in the midst of these transcendent glories. We shall see the glories of the city, we shall see the river of life and the tree of life, but above all we shall see the Lamb—we shall “see His face” (22:4).
May the transforming power of the story of the Lamb—the crucified, risen, ascended, and glorified Lamb—be manifest in our lives even now!
—Hamilton Smith, condensed