The One

The One

From childhood we’ve heard the stories of “the one who could”:

Cinderella—the one who could fit into the glass slipper
King Arthur—the one who could remove the sword from the stone
Prince Charming—the one who could wake Sleeping Beauty

Our primal stories all have a hero who fits the moment and arrives to save us as hope is expiring.

But long before belles of the ball fit slippers and swords were withdrawn from stones and kisses woke sleeping beauties, people were longing for the one who could. This is the quest of the human heart in Scripture.

Prophets hoped for the one who could. Psalmists prayed for the one who could. Wise men from the east came asking, “Where is the one . . . ?” John the Baptist looked into the face of the Nazarene and asked, “Are you the one?” People throughout Galilee speculated whether Jesus was “the one.” If we are to be saved from those who would destroy us, the One must come, because we have exhausted the hope of saving ourselves.

In the Revelation, there is little help for the churches on the mainland. And John’s vision (Rev. 4—5) brings him to tears. In one direction, he sees Rome’s throne exercising a deadly choke hold on the seven churches. In the other direction, he sees heaven’s throne occupied by the One who holds a good-news scroll:

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?'” (5:1-2).

But John cries because no one can be found to bring the two thrones face-to-face by opening the scroll:

And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it (vv. 3-4).”

Apparently in the scroll God has a written plan, a plan to rescue and redeem His creatures and creation. But we can’t read it because no one is worthy to open the scroll. Lacking “the one,” we remain clueless.

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (v. 5).

Now here’s good news! Listen to the credentials of this scroll-opener: Lion of the tribe of Judah, Root of David, the King, the Anointed, the Christ, the One Who Can. These are messianic titles. Now this One will come and show what He can do.

“Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered” (v. 6). A dead-looking lamb? This is the One who will open the scroll that reveals God’s saving move?

God’s move surprises us. He comes as a slaughtered Lamb, not a triumphant victor. By coming as a lamb, God dies at the hands of every earthly power. They win. We lose. Doesn’t the Cross prove it? Our hero does not fit our earthly expectations.

So why does God do this? In dying to the beastly powers on the earthly thrones, God exposes them for what they are. They are thieves who come only to steal, kill, and destroy. All they can do is enslave and devour—they demand our life, and then they kill us. The Lamb exposes their death-dealing ways.

This lamb now stands before the throne worthy to open the scroll. Apparently, slaughtered lambs have more God-power in them than we would expect. He is the One who can.

Today’s post is an excerpt from Answers for Chicken Little: A No-Nonsense Look at the Book of Revelation.

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