Would you weep like the apostle John?

And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. Rev. 5:4

At this point, I want you to put yourself in John’s shoes.  What would be your response to this?  You see, the scroll is not just about the future in the sense of a better tomorrow.  This scroll is not just about having a better future in terms of a better life than I’ve had in the past.  John is not thinking here about the problems of poverty or addiction.  I’m not saying those things are not problems or that we shouldn’t care about them.  We should because we should love our neighbors as ourselves.  If we don’t, there is something wrong with us as Christians.  But the tragedy is that so many people can’t think beyond these sorts of problems.  What does it matter if you can put food on the table and drive your own car from point A to point B and hold a good job and so on, if you are alienated from God?  What does earth matter when heaven is lost?

And that is what is at stake here.  John knows that.  Eternity is at stake.  The glory of God is at stake.  The future happiness of God’s people in his presence forever is at stake.  If the seals cannot be unloosed, all that is lost.  Would you weep over that?  In other words, I’m asking you: are you more concerned about cycles of poverty that people are trapped in than you are about their eternity in the presence of God?  Are you more moved about your next pay raise than you are about heaven?  Are you more anxious over your physical condition this side of the grave than you are about your body and soul in the age to come?

Would you weep like John weeps?  Are you moved by the things that John is moved by?  “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (4).  The Greek here indicates not only the amount of weeping (“much”) but also the volume of weeping (“loudly,” ESV).  This deeply moved John.  He was at this moment a living illustration of something the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).  John was miserable because for a moment it looked like the only kind of hope he could have was hope in this life.  And that made him weep – it made him miserable.

But this is not the end of the story.  At this point, “one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (5).  John is told to, “Weep not.”  There is good reason for this.  This is not about just keeping your chin up.  This is not about being bold in the face of despair.  This is not about thinking positively when you really have no reason to do so.  That is not what the Christian faith tells you to do.  No!  There is a wonderful and true reason not to weep.  

It is because there has been found someone to break the seals.  It is Jesus.  He has prevailed.  A better word would be conquered.  He is not only able, but he has also conquered.  He has won the victory.  He can do this because he is not just another human, though he is fully human.  He is not some angel.  He is not some departed spirit in the realm of the dead.  No, he is in a category all by himself, the God-Man, described here as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”  This goes back to a prophesy that the patriarch Jacob made concerning Judah: “Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:9-10).  This is a prophesy about the Christ, who is described both in terms of a lion and then as a king with universal dominion.  What John is seeing in heaven is the fulfillment of that prophesy.  The Lion has come and he has conquered!

By: Jeremiah Bass