One of Jesus’s names is the Lion of Judah. But what does this name mean?
We have to go way back to the beginning of the Bible for this question, to
the book of Genesis. The ancestors of the Israelites’ tribes were the sons
of Jacobwho was later called Israel (Genesis 32:24-30). Among these
brothers, Judah was elevated to be the brother who would be an ancestor of
Jesus, even though Judah wasn’t the firstborn in his family.
Before this happened, all the sons of Jacob ended up in Egypt when there
was a famine. But here’s the shocking part: Joseph, one of the youngest
sons, was already there. Years earlier, his brothers had sold him as a
slave to Egypt, but, through a series of events with all kinds of twists
and turns, Joseph ended up becoming second in command in Egypt. God had
given Joseph the ability to interpret dreams, and through this gift, Joseph
learned that a famine was coming. Thus, Egypt was prepared and had extra
food to share.
Joseph’s brothers, unaware of what had happened to their brother since they
sold him, arrived in Egypt asking for food, but they didn’t recognize
Joseph. But Joseph recognized them and put them through an elaborate test:
he demanded that Benjamin, the youngest brother, stay in Egypt as a slave.
That’s when Judah showed that he had changed: he offered to take Benjamin’s
place (Genesis 44). This offer of self-sacrifice also points to the
sacrifice that Judah’s descendentJesuswould later make. Jesus, who is
God, took our place on the cross, and His self-sacrifice
fulfilled prophecies of a Savior that are found all throughout the Old
Jesus, a descendent of Judah, had victory over His enemies through dying on
the cross and rising from the grave. He is a voice for the voiceless and a
shelter for those in need. He is our ruler and is the only One with the
strength and power to conquer death. Jesus is called the Lion of Judah. The
image of a strong and powerful lion is fitting for Jesus as a ruler. A lion
is fearsome and is not easily defeated; it rules over the land and its
creatures, just like Jesus rules in God’s kingdom. Naomi Zylstra
Judah was just a human, and he sinned like all of us, yet God chose him
to be the ancestor of Jesus. Why do you think Judah was chosen out of all
the sons of Jacob?
How does Jesus’s kingship look different from any other king’s? What does
it mean to be ruled by Jesus? (See our “Know Jesus” page to go deeper.)
See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed
Revelation 5:5 (NIV)