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VII. Worthy is the Lamb

As the Church gathers around the Lamb, they are singing a new song, a different song than the Song of Creation sung in Revelation 4. This new song celebrates the redemption accomplished by the Lamb who was slain. The Lamb’s redeeming death made Him worthy to open the scroll that unleashes justice all over the earth, and to establish the ransomed as a priestly kingdom for God.

And while this song isn’t sung at Jesus’ birth, I’m concluding our Advent and Christmas series with this song for two reasons. First, the birth of Jesus is just the beginning of the great story of redemption, there are far too many people who celebrate Christmas and know nothing about Easter. Second, though this song isn’t celebrating His birth, it is celebrating what He was born for. Jesus is worthy because He was slain, and because He ransomed people by His blood. In order for Jesus to be slain, and in order for Him to have blood to shed, what needed to happen? Christmas needed to happen!

Humans needed to be saved, but since all men were sinful, there wasn’t anyone who could deliver us from our sins. No human is worthy to open the scroll and usher in a new kingdom, because all humans are corrupted by sin. Only God could save us.

But in order for sinners to be ransomed, blood needed to be shed. That scroll does not open and the new kingdom does not come unless sin is covered by blood. And God doesn’t have any blood! God cannot shed His blood for us, and God cannot die. It simply isn’t something that the divine being can do.

And so since man can’t do the ransoming and kingdom-bringing, and God can’t do the bleeding and dying, God’s solution was Christmas: God would become a man, without stopping to be God. At Christmas, Jesus united the deathless holiness and redeeming love of God with the flesh and blood mortality of a man. As the God-man, Jesus accomplished the bleeding and dying and the ransoming and kingdom-bringing. Because of this, the Lamb is worthy, and so we lift up His name above every other name.

But the ransom is just the beginning. Christmas is about a king and a kingdom. After we’re ransomed, Jesus makes us a kingdom and priests to our God, so that we might reign upon the earth. Christmas is about Jesus coming to rule over us, but even more amazingly, Christmas is about Jesus coming to reign in us and through us.

Many Christians focus so much on being ransomed that they fail to fully appreciate that staggering truth. But even when Christians do understand that they are called to reign with Christ on the earth, and not just in a spiritual sense, they’ve still tended to get it wrong, either by politicizing the kingdom or by punting that kingdom into the future. But the Lamb’s Kingdom does not come through elections or raptures, it comes through singing and sacrifice. It doesn’t depend on waiting or warfare, the Lamb’s kingdom is about worship. The kingdom is a priestly kingdom, and priests are not elected officials or conquerors; they are worshipers.

When God’s people are gathered in worship, we are expressing Christ’s reign over us, in us, and through us. Our worship is where our voices sing “Worthy is the Lamb”, and then the reign of the ransomed on earth is where our lives say “Worthy is the Lamb.” With our words, we shout that the Lamb is worthy to be given power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing, and then we spend our lives giving those things to Him.

This sevenfold blessing represents the fullness of glory: everything we are and have is offered to the Lamb, because the Lamb was slain for us, the Lamb ransomed us, the Lamb made us a kingdom and priests to our God, and in the Lamb, we reign on the earth.

All of this kingdom living and priestly offering of our glory to God is only possible because of Christmas. The Lamb is worthy because He took on a mortal body full of blood that He shed in order to ransom us from sin and death. The Lamb who sits on the throne got to that throne by way of the manger, and because of this, He is worthy.

Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2016 by CJ Bowen