In Revelation 5, the apostle John was transported in a vision to the courts of heaven itself, where all the inhabitants were focused on one thing: a scroll. In context, this scroll was nothing less than the title deed to the earth, which humankind abdicated to Satan when Adam disobeyed God in the garden.
"Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?" (v. 2) an angel asked. In other words, who has the authority and power to take back planet earth and rule it? At first, we read that "no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it" (v. 3), and John "wept much" (v. 4).
But then a hero entered the story. "One of the elders said to [John], '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). Now, John would've looked up expecting to see a lion, right? Only instead, he said, "I looked, and behold…a Lamb as though it had been slain" (v. 6).
John knew this was Jesus. But why did He appear as a lamb? Lambs don't rule the world. Have you ever seen a sign that says, "Beware of lamb"? No. But here's the deal: Jesus has both the meekness of a lamb and the strength, majesty, and readiness of a lion. He came to earth the first time to rescue the world as a lamb; He'll come the second time to rule the world as a lion.
And rule He will. Revelation 5 goes on to describe the defining moment of all history, when Jesus will step forward to take the title deed of the earth, open it up, and fix what's broken (see v. 7). In John's vision, all of heaven broke out in song in response to this moment: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (v. 9).
In other words, Jesus is worthy to rule as a lion because He came to die as a lamb. The very wounds He received as a lamb are what qualify Him to reign as a lion. This heavenly song puts Jesus' sacrificial death front and center because "without shedding of blood there is no remission" of sin (Hebrews 9:22), and He paid for your sins on the cross.
The cross was not plan B. It was not an "oops" moment. It was always God's plan to redeem you and me by sending His Son to die in our place, letting all of our sin and the punishment for it fall on Him (see Isaiah 53:6).
Jesus will rule as the Lion because He rescued us as the Lamb. And one day we're going to join all the hosts of heaven in singing, "You are worthy." Are you preparing your heart for that moment as you "[look] for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13)?