As John the Beloved beheld the throne room of God in Revelation 5, the question of the ages thundered in the midst of that great room. “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals (v. 2)?” John heard the question over the many sounds that filled the air around him. He heard no immediate answer and began to weep. The question was another way of asking, “Who is worthy to exercise ultimate power over and then take full possession of the nations of the earth? Who can be trusted with that kind of power?” No one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth—meaning, no living person or great man or woman of ages past, now long deceased, could be trusted with that kind of power and authority over the earth. According to John, not only was no one present or past able to open the scroll that God wanted to give but no one was even able to look at it. John, therefore, wept much.
Suddenly, one of the elders present at this heavenly gathering comforts John, telling him, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals (v. 5).” Jesus, the Lamb of God, stood in the midst of the throne of God and was proclaimed the worthy one, the only one who was found by heaven to be worthy and able to grasp the scroll of absolute power. He was able to do so because He had prevailed and proven Himself able to do so without being corrupted or tempted to abuse or misuse that power for His own ends. He had proven Himself trustworthy and loyal, faithful and true, fully given to the leadership and will of His Father.
This throne room scene was set right at the beginning of the book of Revelation to serve a critical purpose for God’s people, particularly the generation alive during the season of the Lord’s return. The desire of God was to establish great confidence in our hearts regarding the faithfulness and trustworthiness of the leadership of Jesus. This confidence would need to be cemented into our understanding and our resolve to follow and love Jesus, for the events that would unfold in the subsequent chapters speak of incredible glory, victory, trials, shaking, and difficulty. To be rooted and grounded in the beauty and majesty of His leadership as a safe and loving Savior is to be unshakable in our love and commitment to Him through the great storms of trouble that lie ahead.
What does it mean that Jesus “prevailed”? What about His journey as a Man had enabled Him to prove that He could be trusted to wield the unprecedented power of the scroll of Revelation 5, the “title deed” and right to exercise authority over the nations of the earth? Think back to the cross for a moment. There are so many critical moments to consider, but the ones that move me so deeply involve the moments where Jesus is being struck and scourged and mocked. If you or I were in the same situation, we would have no choice but to endure the punishment of every blow, expertly delivered by a professional soldier trained to inflict the pain. We would be powerless and helpless throughout every moment of the scourging that followed.
This was not true for Jesus.
He chose to endure every blow and lash, even though He had the power to stop it at any point. When the soldiers mocked Him, striking Him and taunting Him to prophesy and tell them who it was that was hitting Him, He could have. He could have simply whispered the dark secrets of one soldier’s heart, and the rest would have ceased their assault immediately. Jesus could have, like Elisha, simply given the soldiers eyes to see the legions of the fearsome angelic host that surrounded them, and the painful trial would have ended immediately. He could have called fire down upon the armies of Rome and the political leaders of Jerusalem, establishing the truth of His identity and scattering His enemies completely. He would have been righteous and blameless in doing so.
Yet the worthiness and trustworthiness of Christ to rule, wielding unimaginable and unlimited power from His Father to govern the nations, flow from the actions Jesus restrained from taking as much as they are connected to the actions He did take. His perfect and loving leadership is related to the grace and love He extends, but it is also seen in His mercy and kindness to restrain in meekness. He was struck. Yet in His heart, He chose to be struck again because of His commitment to the salvation of Israel and the redemption of the entire human race. He endured for love. He restrained in mercy. These were the people He came to seek and save, and even in their betrayal and rage, He endured their scorn, shame, condemnation, and pain inflicted to give His life for each one gathered there and beyond.
To meditate on His kindness and mercy in these moments is to allow the Holy Spirit to remove every accusation in our hearts about His love towards us and His leadership over our lives. When it dawns on us that in our own sinfulness and rebellion we likely would have willfully participated in or approved of His torment and execution, yet He fought to prevail in order to save us and set His love on us, we cannot help but surrender again to His wisdom. His love conquers our fears and our doubts. This is critically important for us to grow in as it relates to the storms that lie ahead for us. Who loves like this? Who restrains His power like Jesus did, to fight to express His love for all and to all? The cross is the most majestic and breathtaking expression of love in all of history. It was there, in humanity’s darkest hours, that the love of Jesus shined the brightest. He was, in those hours, the finest, most loving Man possible, and yet they still fought to destroy Him. There, with His final breaths, He whispered prayers of forgiveness to His Father on their behalf.
I want to encourage you to spend time over the next few weeks, months, and years beholding Jesus during His greatest moments. The cross is His glorious résumé to the human race, giving us incomparable credentials that qualify Him to lead us all in a manner that no one else ever could. As we think about, pray about, study, and grow in our understanding of Jesus and His meekness and majesty, we give Him more permission in our heart to take leadership over our lives. We give Him more of our heart in agreement with His value system, more of our trust in His delay and what seems to be the withholding of His power, and more of our love and loyalty in the days where His leadership is expressed with jealousy, intensity, and disruptive and disturbing signs, wonders, and glory.
As we hold our weak, broken, or unstable hearts before the Lord, He wants to love us into great stability and security in His leadership for the days ahead. The areas of uncertainty, fear, or condemnation are at the top of His list to touch with His love as the kind Father and impact with His beauty as the righteous King. This is our glory and advantage as followers of Jesus—the Man who endured the cross and prevailed for love has given Himself to us fully to be known and enjoyed. As we do, our hearts become over time unshakable and unoffendable, rooted and grounded deep in the majesty of His love. This is how we fasten our lives to His love and beauty. And when we do, no circumstance or trial can shift us out of our love for Jesus.
What about the cross makes you trust Jesus more?
Want to know about what happens when Jesus takes the scroll described in Revelation 5? Check out End Times Simplified: Revised by David Sliker. Newly updated and revised, its straightforward language and biblical truths will help you understand end-time events and how you fit into them. Available digitally and in print at our Forerunner Bookstore.