In the March 2, 2015, edition of The Paris Review, Sadie Stein remarked on March coming “In like a lion, and out like a lamb.” She says, (it) always seemed a straightforward enough proverb, when March starts, it’s still winter, and by the end of the month spring has begun. True, in many climates the weather hasn’t quite reached the lamb stage by the end of the month—it’s more like a surly cat, maybe, or one of those awful territorial honking geese. But we get the idea. I have seen the phrase referred to as an “eighteenth-century saying” in more than one unreliable Internet source, while Wikipedia calls it “an old Pennsylvania” saw.
One of the earliest citations is in Thomas Fuller’s 1732 compendium, Gnomologia Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British. The authors give the wording as “Comes in like a Lion, goes out like a Lamb.”
The adage causes me to think of how our Savior came, but in reverse. Jesus arrived as a sacrificial lamb who came for the sole purpose of dying and redeeming a lost mankind. He may have come in like a lamb, but He will return as the Lion of Judah.
Based on Jacob’s blessing, the lion is a symbol of the tribe of Judah, which is known as the kingly tribe (King David was of the tribe of Judah).
In the Old Testament, God is sometimes described as being like a lion. In Hosea, God is angry at Israel because they became proud and forgot Him. God says, “I will be like a lion to them…like a lion I will devour them. You are destroyed, Israel, because you are against me, against your helper” (Hosea 13:7-8). It is better to experience the help and protection of the Lion than to deny His kingship and face His fierceness.
In Revelation 5, Jesus is the long-awaited Lion of the tribe of Judah. John weeps because no one was found worthy to open the scroll of God’s judgment or even to look inside it. Then one of the elders says to John, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. It is better to experience the help and protection of the Lion than to deny His kingship and face His fierceness.
He is the true king and the One to whom belongs the long-awaited obedience of nations. Yet it is not His fierceness or the force of His power that makes Him worthy. The Lion has triumphed because He became a Lamb (Revelation 5:6-10; cf. John 1:29). Jesus Christ is worthy because He lived a perfect, sinless life and in shedding His blood defeated sin and death. His death and resurrection have resulted in a protection for His people and an eternal kingdom that will honor and worship God. Ruling this kingdom will be Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Ed Jones pastors Fellowship at the Ranch Church at Robson Ranch. This nondenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. For information, visit Fellowship’s website, www.fellowshipattheranchchurch.com.