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Is Jesus the Lion of Judah?

When Muslims hear about the life of Jesus and notice the end of his life on the cross, they think that it is an ugly life, not interesting to follow. In their view a prophet is a person with a high level of holiness, protected by God Almighty. They hear that with Christmas, a lamb is presented, which represents a weak animal. This is another indication that the Christian view of Jesus is not so interesting for Muslims. They expect that the Messiah is at least a mighty prophet of God with power. Is it a misconception that Jesus is weak?

1. The weak image of Jesus

With Christmas you read about the lamb and with Easter that Jesus was crucified by his enemies. For many unbelievers, Jesus is weak and doesn’t have an attractive lifestyle. Suffering and execution are connected with an ugly life. Jesus never established the Khalifa State, which had to be restored according to the Hebrew Scriptures [1]. For many people, Jesus looks girly. The golden age of Israel did not come back with Jesus. The way he died, by crucifixion was for the Jews the final evidence he could not be the Messiah. Why didn’t he defend himself and fight back? Hollywood has created heroes like Superman and Rambo as good men who save the world. The unbelievers walk out of the cinema feeling and think that Jesus has a message for the weak. Is this all about Jesus?

2. Jesus is the Lion of Judah

There is another view of Jesus Christ, Muslims feel comfortable with. The Bible shows that Jesus has great power in heaven and earth: “And 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” (Revelation 5:5). This verse brings to mind the martial and glorious image of the Messiah who defeats his enemies. This is exactly what our intuition is waiting for. Jesus is many times referred to as the Lion. Most people like the idea of him being a lion much more than being a lamb. The patriarch Jacob has blessed all children. However, to his son Judah he put a special blessing: “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him” (Genesis 49:8-9). King David was from the tribe of Judah. During his reign, his kingdom was the most powerful on earth. A lion has great power, is fierce, and the king of the animals. The Scriptures are telling us more about the symbolical and prophetic meaning of Jesus as the Lion of Judah: “They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west” (Hosea 11:10).

3. Jesus was fasting for 40 days

Jesus has been out in the desert for forty days and for forty nights, so he was physically weak at this point. Then Jesus was tempted by Satan during fasting. Satan told him: “’All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me’” (Matthew 4:9). Then Jesus showed true strength and character by saying “No!”. He refuted Satan with the Scriptures: “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (Matthew 4:10). People who did such fasting without eating and drinking during day and night know how difficult it is. It is extremely hard in cases of weakness spiritually, emotionally or physically, to resist those temptations.

4. The Lion of Judah cleansed the Temple of Jerusalem

We first think that a strong man must be physically strong, a strong willed person, who is a strong leader and with a strong character. Jesus fulfills these requirements. Jesus as the Lion of Judah entered the temple of Jerusalem (Luke 19:45-46). He found the unbelievers in the temple and found them involved in unjust gains made in trade or business, in Islam it is called riba. The unbelievers were changing the Roman money and ripping off the people. The Lion of Judah turned over their tables and kicked them out of the temple. As the Lion of Judah, Jesus said: “My house will be called a house of prayer," but you are making it "a den of robbers."”. Jesus showed personal greatness and intensity of will with his words and tone [2]. Jesus had the courage to attack the money changers. They were overwhelmed by his authority, and touched with the consciousness that he had a right to command.

5. Jesus said he is the Messiah

Jesus said as the Lion of Judah: I am the Messiah. After Jesus reads from the Scripture Isaiah 61. He sits down and as all the eyes of the synagogue are on him, he declares: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus said that he is the Messiah. Jesus showed courage to tell this because when people don’t want to believe this, they can kill him. This is exactly what happened. The Jews said , this man must die. The Jewish leaders asked Jesus if he is the Messiah. Jesus was not afraid to tell them that he is the Messiah. “The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:63-64). They threw rubbish on him. But God said this was disbelief. Muslims call such disbelief: kufr. They said he must die and he must die by hanging, because the Torah says who is hanged is cursed: (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). However, the righteous Lion of Judah came from God. Jesus has all power to defend himself: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). He was born in a human body with the name Jesus the Messiah and he became the means by which people of any generation might have life in Paradise.

6. Conclusion

Jesus is not weak, but strong. We are created with weakness and need an example to find our way in life. Jesus as the Lion of Judah wants to show us that by following him, we will be blessed by God’s grace and find our stairway to heaven.

Notes

1. Sheikh Imran Hosein, The Return of Jesus The Messiah, Dawah Digital, London, 2018.
2. Charles Ellicott (ed), An New Testament Commentary for English Readers, Matthew 21:13, 2012.