“Who is worthy?” That’s the question in Revelation 5, and the possibilities are scarce. Not Abraham, Moses, or Elijah. Not Eve, Ruth, or Esther. “No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth” is worthy to open the scroll in the right hand of him who is seated on the throne in heaven. Each and every human being at some point has decided, “God may have a plan, but I think mine is better.”
As the universal unworthiness deficit settles in, John begins to weep loudly in Revelation 5, “because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it” (5:4). Just then, his attention is drawn to the answer.
“Who is worthy?” The Lion of the tribe of Judah. Centuries before, Jacob had blessed each one of his sons and foretold specifically of Judah:
“Judah is a lion’s cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Gen 49:8-10)
“Who is worthy?” The Lion of the tribe of Judah is worthy.
“Who is worthy?” The Root of David. In 2 Samuel 7, the LORD himself had made a promise to Israel’s second king:
“I will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” (2 Sam 7:11-14)
“Who is worthy?” The Root of David is worthy.
“Who is worthy?” The Lamb. As John the Baptist proclaimed from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry:
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
“Who is worthy?” Only one, is the answer in Revelation 5. The Lion, the Root, and the Lamb.
“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.” (5:9-10)
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” (5:12)
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (5:13)
The Lion, the Root, and the Lamb.
Royal strength. A sustaining anchor. The atoning sacrifice.