Why Is Jesus "The Lion Of Judah" And the "Lamb of God"?


Jesus is known by many names that are symbolic of His character and nature. These names truly embody who He is and we use a lot of them in worship and prayer. Some of them include the Lion and Lamb, the Lion of Judah, and the Lamb of God. 

On the surface, these two animals (A Lion and a Lamb) contrast in nearly every aspect of their identity and this even spreads to their habitat, feeding habits, and temperament. Yet they complement each other when used in describing Jesus. 

How is Christ’s nature similar to theirs, what is the meaning behind them, and what can we learn from this?

What Does The Lion Of Judah Mean?

The first mention of Judah along with the word lion was in Genesis 49:9-10. It says,

Judah is a lion’s whelp;

From the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He couches, he lies down as a lion,

And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

Until Shiloh comes,

And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”

Here Jacob blesses his son Judah, likening him and the tribe that comes from him to a lion. 

The second time was in Revelations 5:5 where only Jesus the “Lion that is from the tribe of Judah” is worthy to open the seven seals.

In Israel, the tribe of Judah was known as the lineage of kings and rulership. King David and all his descendants who ruled Israel up until the time of the Babylonian captivity all came from this tribe. 

Jacob’s prophecy that the scepter and ruler’s staff will not depart from Judah until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be Hisrefers to Jesus (his descendant) in His second coming where He will rule the earth and the nations forever.

Why Is Jesus Depicted As A Lion?

The lion as an animal is synonymous with characteristics like boldness,  fierceness, majesty, and kingship. 

God Himself is referred to as one in the Bible for numerous reasons.

“ … As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him he is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill.”

Here it is because of His fearlessness and ability to protect His own. He doesn’t back down when His beloved is touched. 

“So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way…

I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open.”

He uses the word here in reference to His ability to discipline and devour His own in chastisement.

So Jesus is depicted as a lion not only because of His place as a conquering and victorious king descended from Judah, but also because He is fearless, powerful, and He fiercely protects those who are called by His name.

Why Is Jesus Depicted As the Lamb of God?

A lamb is associated with meekness, submissiveness, and purity. Among the Jews, it was mostly slaughtered as a sacrificial animal for the atonement of sins.

It is because of this that Jesus is depicted as one. Being meek and humble, He came down to earth in human form even though He was God. He lived a pure life without sin and was eventually sacrificed on the cross for the sins of mankind. He didn’t owe death but yet He gave up His life despite that. His death and resurrection gave us freedom from the bondage of sin and death.

Whereas the sacrifice of lambs was not enough to atone for and take away the sin of the sacrificer, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the perfect lamb of God, and the shedding of His blood gave us complete freedom.

Why Is Jesus Called The Lion And the Lamb?

Using ‘lion’ or ‘lamb’ alone to refer to Jesus would not fully balance out His image and true identity. However, when the two names are used together, they tell the story of what Christianity is based on; Jesus’ sacrifice and His resulting Kingship.

Jesus submitted to His Father’s will and made the sacrifice for us as God.

This immense and perfect sacrifice made Him unarguably worthy to be crowned Lord over all.  

Philippians 2:8-11 sums it all up by saying,

“8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 

11 and every tongue acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Therefore calling Him the Lion and the Lamb is acknowledging His sacrifice and Lordship.

Bible Verses About the Lion Of Judah And the Lamb Of God

“and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”

“and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

“There will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;”

“and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;”

Final Thoughts

From the understanding of Jesus as the Lion of Judah, we have the confidence that He is Lord over all. He has given us authority even as we are here on the earth, and when He comes back again, He will destroy Satan’s rule over this world and the whole earth will bow to His authority.

On the other hand, the understanding of Him as the Lamb of God helps us see Him as our Savior. His love for us made Him leave His place in heaven as God to come down to the earth, show us how to live, and sacrifice Himself for us even when we didn’t deserve it. Our response to this great display of meekness should be to live for the One who willingly gave up everything to give us purpose and a reason to exist.