An idea from a great book, a sale priced canvas, and a couple Saturdays equals this:
There is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ.
For example, we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness. In his equality with God he has a deep reverence for God. Though he is worthy of all good, he was patient to suffer evil. His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission. He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom, but was simple enough to be loved by children. He could still the storm with a word, but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross. The glory of Christ is not a simple thing. It is a coming together in one person of extremely diverse qualities.
So Christ is a lamb-like Lion and a lion-like Lamb. That is his glory—“an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.” This glorious conjunction shines all the brighter because it corresponds perfectly with our personal weariness and our longing for greatness. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:28-29). The lamb-like gentleness and humility of this Lion woos us in our weariness. And we love him for it. If he only recruited like the Marines, who want strength, we would despair of coming. But this quality of meekness alone would not be glorious. The gentleness and humility of the lamb-like Lion become brilliant alongside the limitless and everlasting authority of the lion-like Lamb. Only this fits our longing for greatness. Yes, we are weak and weary and heavy-laden. But here burns in every heart, at least from time to time, a dream that our lives will count for something great. To this dream Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. . . . And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The lion-like Lamb calls us to take heart from his absolute authority over all reality. And he reminds us that, in all that authority, he will be with us to the end of the age. This is what we long for—a champion, an invincible leader. We mere mortals are not simple either. We are pitiful, yet we have mighty passions. We are weak, yet we dream of doing wonders. We are transient, but eternity is written on our hearts. The glory of Christ shines all the brighter because the conjunction of his diverse excellencies corresponds perfectly to our complexity.
– From Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, ch. 3
I tried to paint a gentleness into the lion and put cool colors behind him, as the lamb has a fierceness and is surrounded by warm colors. It was a fun experience to think for hours about Christ as perfectly both.
*Diverse Excellencies is 30″ by 40″ and is too giant for my apartment so he’s for sale, message me for details :)