One of the most significant passages touching the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is found in the fifth chapter of the last book of the New Testament. The remarkable vision of the Creator-Lord and His throne room in chapter four of the Apocalypse has given way to an animated scene in which the throne of heaven invests the Lion of the Tribe of Judah with the legal authority to establish His dominion over the earth through advent and judgment (cf. John 5:22-23, 27).
A seven-sealed book rests upon the right hand of the one sitting upon the throne. It is a testamentary disposition  of the affairs of the earth and the goal of history. It might be called a pre-written history of the manner by which the Son of Man ascends the throne of universal dominion to oversee the fulfillment of all the covenant promises.  When this takes place, all the ancient and modern questions find their solution.
We meet here, not the Christology of the liberal theologians, such as Hendrikus Berkhof, John Hick or James M. Robinson, nor of the mildly conservative such as Wolfhart Pannenberg, nor even of the inspired apostles, although it is completely harmonious with apostolic teaching. Here we have the theology of heaven. And in heaven they know who He is and what He has done. Only on earth are there confusion, perplexity and error.
In the dramatic scene pictured in Revelation five God makes it plain that it is through the Lion-Lamb, the Son of Man and Son of God, that God's kingdom is inaugurated as the fulfillment of His covenantal promises. And a disturbing question is raised here by modern Christology in which our Lord is seen as someone less than the Incarnate God. As an example, in an article a few years ago, James M. Robinson, Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate School and Director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, offers readers a view of Jesus Christ that concludes with adoptionist implications that He was a mere human being who was chosen by God, inspired and empowered by God for His ministry of the revelation of God's wisdom. 
All the old questions are raised, of which the fundamental one is, "How can one who is less than God redeem the people of God?" The question drags Anselm of Canterbury from the eleventh and twelfth centuries right into the twentieth.
We turn, then, to the dramatic scene of Revelation five and to the illuminating answers it gives to the question, "Who is the Lord Jesus Christ, and what has He done?"
The Seven-Sealed Book (1-4)
The description of the book (1). Chapter five represents a continuation of the vision given in chapter four of the great heavenly sanctuary and the throne, with the angelic court present. The seven seals of the book define it as a testamentary disposition.  It contains the history of the Messiah's assumption of the kingdom for us written in advance. The fact that it was written within and without (recto and verso) may indicate its fullness of content. The fact that the book or scroll was sealed may indicate the hiding of the contents from man. It is a divine mystery (cf. 10:7; Dan. 12:4).
The despair of John (2-4). To the challenge of the strong angel there is not a fit person in the universe to respond, and John is plunged into despair. No one! From the Pharaohs to the Maos, from the shepherds to the scientists, from the professors (gulp!) to the divines, no one was found. No power in heaven or hell, and no ruler on earth is worthy. It is the sentence of doom on all political messianism. Shall the secrets of the creation find no solution?
The apostle, overcome by the confrontation with human sin and inability to control his destiny, began to weep greatly (the imperfect eklaion (NAS8, "began to weep'') marking the continual audible sobbing). He understood that the unworthiness of anyone to take the book spelled judgment for all. Man has lost his right to rule (cf. Gen. 1:26-28; 3:1-6, 24).
The Triumph of the Lion-Lamb (5-7)
The victory (5). It has been said that Christ is best seen by weeping eyes, and the saying finds illustration here. The apostle in the profound verses that follow learns that, although man has by his sin wrecked his standing before the Lord, yet there is help in Him (cf. Hos. 13:9).
John is told by one of the elders to stop weeping, for the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and its seven seals. The titles portray Him as a martial figure with universal reign as "an ensign to the nations" (cf. Gen. 49:9-10; Isa. 11:1,11) in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. What man has lost, the Davidic King, the Son of Man, has regained (cf. Heb. 2:5-9). The figure of the lion is so apropos, for the lion is "at home in fight" (cf. 6:16)!
In the midst of the throne room the Lamb stands silent, offering no loud self-assertions as if to draw attention and advertise Himself. Isaiah's word regarding the Servant of the Lord comes to mind, "He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street" (42:2), and yet, "He will bring forth justice to the nations" (cf. vv. 1,4). The tense of the verb enikesen (NAS8, "has overcome") looks at the cross (cf. 3:21). 
The vision (6). When John looked to see the Lion, he saw a Lamb! The "Lamb" is the characteristic title of Christ in this book. The word occurs about twenty-nine times in Revelation, but only once elsewhere (John 21:15). It is not used of Christ anywhere else; it is a new conception. The word is a diminutive of aren, which means lamb, but in New Testament times it had lost its diminutive force.  It is, however, used to suggest weakness (cf. Luke 10:3; 2 Clem. 5:2-4). Elsewhere our Lord is called a lamb, but the word used is amnos (cf. John 1:29,36; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19). Here, then, the term suggests the manner in which He obtained sovereignty over the earth-by the weakness of the Cross (cf. 1 Cor. 1:25; 2 Cor. 13:4; 13:4; Jer. 11:19 [LXX]).
In one surprising stroke, a central feature of scriptural revelation is captured and vividly portrayed. "A lamb standing, as if slain," in the midst of the throne is the object of John's startled eyes. The phrase, "as if slain," unerringly points to the expiatory  death of the Lamb, the manner by which He triumphed and the ground of the celebration of the fact (vv. 9,12). John has in mind the Passover Lamb (cf. Matt. 26:26-29; Isa. 53:7). It is a triumph by a penal, substitutionary sacrifice that satisfies God's righteous claims against us. The belief that our Lord's sacrifice was a satisfaction is often traced to Anselm of Canterbury and his Cur Deus Homo. Philip Hughes has suggested that since the Cur Deus Homo is an academic work, a surer guide to the evangelical intensity of Anselm in his devotional life may be found in his Sermon on the Lord's Passion and his Admonition to a Dying Man. In the sermon Anselm wrote,
Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who condescended to die for your flock, acknowledge me among your sheep and lead me to your pasture. You who drank the bitter cup for me, enable me to share in your glory. Your punishments torture my conscience and your torments my memory: for I feared to drink the potion you drank; the sins you bore were my sins; I, an obstinate slave, committed the crimes for which you were flogged; it was my debts that were paid by you; my iniquity was the cause of your death and my misdeeds brought about your wounds. Alas for my sins for which atonement had to be made by so bitter a death .... O unspeakable mercy!. .. that when satisfaction for guilt was owed by none but man and none but God was able to provide it, he showed his mercy by overcoming man, and, though he owed nothing to himself, paid our debt by dying for us .... Behold how God did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us (Rom. 8:32). O the grace of him who does this! o the holiness of that death! O Good Jesus! O holy Jesus! what shall I render to you, what shall I endure for you who have endured so often and so much for me? The display of what you have done is the proof of your love. In counseling one near to death Anselm encouraged faithful pastors to ask such questions as these:
- Q. Do you confess that your life has been so evil that you deserve eternal punishment?
- A. I confess it.
- Q. Do you repent of this?
- A. I repent ....
- Q. Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for you?
- A. I believe it.
- Q. Are you thankful to Him?
- A. I am.
- Q. Do you believe that you cannot be saved except through His death?
- A. I do believe this.
- Q. Then do this while the soul remains in you; place your whole trust in this death alone and have no trust in any other thing; commit yourself wholly to this death; cover yourself wholly with it alone; wrap yourself wholly in this death; and if the Lord should wish to judge you, say: Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and your judgment; in no other way do I argue with you. And if he should say to you, It is because you deserve condemnation, say: Lord, I place the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between you and my demerits, and I offer his merit in place of the merit which I owe and do not have. If he should say that He is angry with you, say: Lord, I place the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and your anger ... 
While the Lamb has been offered·in sacrifice, John sees the Lamb "standing." He bears the marks of sacrifice, but He stands erect and alive in the sight of heaven. The Lamb has risen! As He said to the apostle when he was in the Spirit on Patmos, "I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades" (1:18). 
That the Lamb possessed seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth, suggests the fullness of strength and knowledge that belongs to the Lamb (cf. Deut. 33:17; Dan. 7:7,20; Zech.4:10). The Lamb is invested with the attributes of deity, as the angels will soon acknowledge.
John sees the Lamb in the midst of the gathering in the throne room, and for Charles Spurgeon this had practical significance. "Being in the centre, to Him they all look," he points out, making the further point that He should be this in the church, In the ministry, and in the saints individually. Speaking of the ministry, Spurgeon says,
Shall He not be also the centre of our ministry? What shall we preach about but Christ? Take that subject away from me, and I have done. These many years have I preached nothing else but that dear name, and if that is to be dishonoured, all my spiritual wealth is gone: I have no bread for the hungry, nor water for the faint. After all these years my speech has become like the harp of Anavreon, which would resound love alone. He wished to sing of Atreus and of Cadmon, but his harp resounded love alone. It is so with my ministry: with Christ and Christ alone am I at home. Progressive theology! No string of my soul will vibrate to its touch. New divinity! Evolution! Modern thought! My harp is silent to these strange fingers; but to Christ, and Christ alone, it answers with all the music of which it is capable. Beloved, is it so with you? We may substitute such things as process theology, liberation theology, redaction criticism, Pannenberg, Schillenbeeckx, Hendrikus Berkhof, John Hick and others, and Spurgeon's comments are appropriate still.
The acquisition of the book. At this point in the account the quiet Conqueror steps to the throne and takes from the right hand of the Ancient of Days the scroll with its apocalyptic authority, the cession of triumphal rights over the Empire of the Thousand Years. The drama of the event is caught by the word eilephen (NASB, "He took"), a dramatic perfect - He has taken it! 
The Shouts of Praise (8-14)
The song of the creatures and elders (8-10). The action of the Lamb is the signal for outbursts of praise, and immense excitement stirs the whole cosmos. Cross and crown are the theme of heaven, and they shout, "Crown Him! Crown Him! Crowns become the Victor's brow." Only on earth do they shout, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" All heaven knows who He is and what He has done.
"Heaven is the homeland of music," Christina Rossetti said, and this chapter is in agreement. And like a Roman candle the praises and the shouts rise in a mighty crescendo of magnification of the One sitting upon the throne and the Lamb. The new song comes from the living creatures and the elders, and it originates at the feet of the Lamb. They sing His worth in every age - as related to the past (vv. 8-9), the present (10a) and the future (10b).
The ground of His work in the past includes His sacrifice, the hoti (NASB, "for'') in verse nine giving the explanation or reason for the ascription to Him of worth. The "Thou wast slain" underlines the "as if slain" of verse six, the aorist here looking simply at the event of the cross. The egorasas (NASB, "didst purchase'') indicates that the purchase was redemptive by means of a propitiatory death (cf. Rom. 3:24-25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). In other words, the two verbs, both aorists that look at the cross, underline the comments made above. The death is a penal, substitutionary satisfaction for sin, a satisfaction purchased by His sacrificial blood. It is at this point that Karl Barth's theology may be justly criticized. Barth acknowledges that Christ has suffered punishment for us, but it is not the The Mediator's Cross According to Heaven punishment that Anselm has in mind. Barth specifically denies that Christ '''satisfied' or offered satisfaction to the wrath of God." His work was more decisive than that. He has in His own person made an end of us as sinners, delivering us and sin itself to destruction. The alienated cosmos "was taken and killed and buried in and with Him on the cross."  What Barth means is not altogether clear, but it is not what Anslem and Calvin meant.
The object of the two verbs in verses nine and ten, egorasas (NASB, "didst purchase'') and epoiesas (NASB, "hast made"), is unexpressed specifically. While a number of manuscripts have the personal pronoun hemas (AV, "us") after the verb "purchase," the reading is probably not genuine, as the well attested autous (NASB, "them") of verse ten indicates.  We must supply as an object of the purchase either "some," "men," or "a people." The construction is a partitive one, and in a moment its importance will be noted. Luther's German Bible has erkauft Menschen, or He has purchased men, as has the NASB.
We have said that the redemptive work here is said to be penal, substitutionary and sacrificial. That it is substitutionary is plain from the fact that the Lamb is slain and men are redeemed. What they experience is the result of His representation of them. There is a further point to be noted here, and it is this: The purchase, or redemption, is particular and not universal in scope. This is indicated, first, by the partitive ek (NASB, "from''). The "men" is italicized in the NASB to indicate that the word is supplied to give the sense of the partitive phrase. It is "men," or "a people," or "some" from every tribe and tongue and people and nation who are purchased by the Lamb's blood, not all without exception.  The "from" must be noticed; the text does not say that the Lamb purchased every tribe and tongue and people and nation, but "men," or "a people," or "nation" from such entities.
Second, the verb agoradzo, meaning to purchase and redeem, when referring to a redemptive purchase is always effectual. As here, everyone who is purchased has been made "a kingdom and priests" (NASB; NKJV, "kings and priests"). This cannot be said of any but the redeemed and, if so, then only they are the objects of the redemptive intent. 
Third, the particular reference of the Atonement is confirmed by the priestly work of our Lord, of which the purchase of a people is the vital part. The priest's work involved sacrifice, intercession, instruction and blessing. And the sacrificial work was coextensive with the intercessory work (cf. John 17:9). Those for whom He sacrifices are those for whom He intercedes, and vice versa. Atonement and intercession include each other, the Atonement being prolonged without suffering into the work of intercession. And the intercession is simply "the perpetual presentation of the 'continual burnt offering of Calvary."  The two functions are coextensive. Passages attribute the whole of our Salvation to His sacrifice and to His intercession (Heb. 10:14; 7:25). The same priest who ministered at the brazen altar and at the mercy seat also ministered at the golden altar of incense, and for the same people! As Martin says, "But at both altars Aaron was the type of Christ; and as an offerer both in sacrifice and intercession, Christ is the anti-type of Aaron." 
Fourth, if we affirm our Lord acted as a representative for His people, and that is suggested typically in that the high priest as he carried out his work had the names of the tribes of Israel on his breast and shoulders, then He must have intended the actual remission of the sins of all those for whom He died. The results of His work agree with the intention.
Finally, if we affirm that the Old Testament priests offered substitutionary sacrifices, and that Christ's antitypical sacrifice was also vicarious, then there are no grounds upon which a charge can be laid by heaven against those for whom He died. The debt of those for whom He substituted has been paid.
George Bishop has related the story of how Francisco Pizarro the Spanish conquistador (c. 1476-1541), deceived and assassinated the Peruvian Inca, Atahualpa, and conquered Peru. Bishop writes:
The story is told of Pizarro that when he had imprisoned the Peruvian Inca (Atahualpa), that monarch, lifting his hand to the level of his head upon the wall behind him, promised to fill the apartment with silver and gold to that level, provided Pizarro would let him go free. Pizarro agreed to this, and then when the loyal subjects of the Inca, denying themselves to the utmost, had brought together the requisite ransom, Pizarro led forth their beloved Inca, and before their smiling expectant faces put him to excruciating death. That Pizarro, lifted and broadened to infinite proportions, is the shadow which a universal atonement projects upon God - it makes an infinite Pizarro and subverts the very substratum upon which is built His throne. The heavenly hosts in verse ten relate His worth to the present, for He has made His people a kingdom, "a reigning power, equivalent to kings,"  and priests. The blessings of a royal priesthood, with the access to God implied, are meant.
And, further, they are specifically promised earthly rule (cf. 20:4-6). The disciples' question in Acts 1:6 has its final answer.
The shout of the angelic hosts (11-12). Like a second explosion from a Roman candle the angelic hosts speak of the worth of the slain Lamb. The verses are another testimony to the interest of the angels in prophecy. Peter affirms that in 1 Peter 1:10-12. And the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews suggests a reason for the interest, since in his use of Deuteronomy 32:43 in Hebrews 1:6 he says that they will worship Him at His Advent. 
The saying of the creation (13-14). The chorus of praise climaxes in what someone has called "an unparalleled fortissimo" of adoration and worship of the One upon the throne and the Lamb. The significance of this must not be lost. In Revelation 22:8 the apostle, after the reception of the visions and messages of the book, fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown him the things. The angel, however, replied, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God" (22:9). The angels, however, worship the Lamb! There could hardly be a clearer confession of His full deity.
Is His deity all that important? It is, for if what Jesus Christ has done in purchasing the forgiveness of sins by His blood is not what God has done, then it is not ultimately valid. We are still in our sins. If God Himself has not become incarnate and one of us, then we really do not have a true knowledge of God. If Jesus Christ is not God, then God is some hidden inscrutable Deity, of whom we have no certain knowledge, and of whom we can only be terrified. Then the judgment of the world will be without respect to the Lamb and His eternal love. If, however, He is God, then the consequences are staggering. All that He did for us becomes a sure and steadfast foundation for our eternal well-being. As the God-man He has thrown a great bridge across the gulf between God and man, and we are sure to cross the other side by His mediation.  Job was wrong. There is a Daysman, an umpire, who lays His hand upon us both (Job 9:33). Paul was right. There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). One God - just one. And one Mediator with His cross - just one. But the beauty of it is that one is enough!
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, who has previously contributed to Reformation & Revival Journal, served as professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, and at Dallas Theological Seminary before retirement several years ago. He was a teaching elder for many years at Believers Chapel, Dallas, Texas, and now teaches widely in conference and academic settings and writes extensively. He still resides in Dallas, Texas.
- The discussions of the nature of the seven-sealed book are manifold. Zahn, Weiss and many of the older commentators have discussions, and further discussion may be found in the works of Beasley-Murray, Beckwith, Caird, Mounce, Pohl and others. Caird's view is that the book contains "God's redemptive plan, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, by which he means to assert his sovereignty over a sinful world and so to achieve the purpose of creation" (G.B. Caird, A Commentary on the Revelation of St John the Divine [New York and Evanston: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1966], 72). He does not relate the plan to covenant promises specifically.
- Cf. G.R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1974), 123. He points out that, whether we consider the scroll a deed or a testament, the thing symbolized is one.
- Cf. James M. Robinson, "Very Goddess and Very Man: Jesus' Better Self," Encountering Jesus: A Debate on Christology. ed. by Stephen T. Davis (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988), 222-40.
- The ancient practice was called mancipatio, a ceremony involving the testator of the will, seven chosen witnesses (the seven seals) a familiae emptor, a trusted friend of the testator to receive the property in trust for the heirs until the death of the testator, and scales upon which coins were to be placed in token of a legal sale of the property. The familiae emptor became a kind of interim heir, which in the illustration our Lord has become for us. He is the heir of the kingdom. We are coheirs with Him, for He represents us as our covenantal head. Cf. Emmet Russell, "A Roman Law Parallel to Revelation Five," Bibliotheca Sacra, 115 (July, 1958) 258-64. The imagery of the vision leans also upon Ezekiel 2:9-1 0, particularly where the prophet's book is said to contain "lamentations and mourning and woe."
- The aorist is culminative and might be rendered Ii has come off victorious" to catch the nuance (see Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John: Studies in Introduction with a Critical and Exegetical Commentary [Baker: Grand Rapids, 1967 (orig. ed., 1919)], 508).
- BAGD, 107.
- Apt is Beckwith's comment, "While it (he is speaking of the Lamb) is here, as elsewhere in the book, a designation of the glorified Christ, that aspect of it which marks him as having passed through an expiatory death and thereby bringing eternal blessings to his people is emphasized throughout this scene. The Lamb once slain is contained in enikesen, v. 5, and forms the very heart of the whole scene" (509-10).
- Philip Edgcombe Hughes, The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 34849. The citation is taken from Anselm's Sermo de passione Domini (Migne, PL, CLVIII, cols. 685-87).
- Ibid., 349-50. The counsel to the faithful pastor is found in Anselm's Admonitio Morienti (Migne, PL, CLVIII, cols. 685- 87).
- Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John: The Greek Text with Introduction Notes and Indices (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951 [orig. ed., 1909]), 78.
- "The slain Lamb is the risen Lamb," Beasley-Murray comments (p. 124).
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Treasury of the New Testament, IV: 747-48.
- The dramatic perfect is said by the intermediate grammarians, Dana and Mantey, to be more vivid than the historical present (He takes!) or the dramatic aorist (He took!). They suggest the sense, "The first thing you know, he has done it." Cf. H.E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948), 204. Others see the verb here as a highly dramatic historical present, or an aoristic perfect. In fact, Mussies contends that in the Apocalypse there are early signs of the later fusion of the perfect and aorist indicatives. He finds four examples, 5:7,7:14; 8:5 (same form as 5:7), and 19:3. Cf. G. Mussies, The Morphology of Koine Greek: As Used in the Apocalypse of St John (Leiden: EJ. Brill, 1971), 265, 348.
- Karl Barth, Church Dogamtics, trans. by G.W. Bromiley (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1956), 1V:1, 253-54. Pannenberg also rejects the satisfaction theory of Anselm, although his explanation of Anselm's view is not completely accurate. He accepts penal satisfaction, calling that Luther's view. He rejects Calvin's view, claiming that he and Melanchthon returned to the satisfaction view "with a somewhat baroque revision that not the man Jesus, but the divine-human person was the bearer of the accomplishment of satisfaction" (cf. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus - God and Man, trans. by Lewis L. Wilkins and Duane A. Priebe [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1968],279). I do not see anything "baroque" about Calvin's view; it is simply sound Christology.
- There is not much manuscript support for the omission of hemas (KJV; NKJV, "us''), but to the majority of the textual critics the well-supported autous (NASB, "them'') of verse 10 makes the omission necessary. Evidently those who amended the text, adding the hemas (KJV; NKJV, "us'') in verse 9, did not notice its unsuitability with verse 10.
- Commenting on the partitive construction in the ek phrase in verse 9 (NASB, "from every tribe and tongue and people and nation''), Charles makes the point, "This expression does not attribute the same universal scope to the redemptive power of Christ's death as in 1 John 2:2"; 1,147). Swete agrees (p. 81). Sweet does not, finding in the words a universal scope, but he offers no explanation for the partitive construction (J. P. M. Sweet, Revelation [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1979], 130.
- Beasley-Murray's comment here is, "It is in keeping with the passover-theology of John that the sacrifice of the Lamb led not simply to a general emancipation of men, but to the creation of a people for God" (127).
- Hugh Martin, The Atonement in Its Relations to the Covenant, the Priesthood, the Intercession of Our Lord (Cherry Hill: Mack Hill Publishing Company, n.d. [orig. ed., 1870]), 59.
- Ibid., 60.
- George S. Bishop, The Doctrines of Grace (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977 [orig. ed., n.d.]), 159-60. Beckwith, 513.
- Beckwith, 513.
- Probably Wescott and others are right in seeing the verb eisagagei (NASB, "brings into" as a futurum exactum, a future perfect, referring to the Second Advent of Christ. Cf. Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews (London: Macmillan and Co., 1892), 22. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:26.
- The thought of this paragraph has been influenced by some words from Thomas F. Torrance in his The Trinitarian Faith (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988), 7-8.