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Lion of Judah

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Genesis 49:9-10
You are a lion's cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness - who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.

At West Side Christian Church in Springfield, Illinois the junior high/middle school Sunday School class usually fills up with about 75 or 80 kids. Our son Chris, who is the youth minister there, organized a bus trip to a reserved theater last Sunday to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. 159 young people showed up.

They sat everywhere, in the front, on the sides, on the floor, on the tables. What is drawing them to this class? Chris, who is 25 years old today, has plenty of charisma. The church covered $2 of each person's ticket cost. The movie has been fully hyped. Kids really like to be together, see movies together, ride on buses together.

All of that beckoned these kids in to the church doors, into the classroom, on the bus, into the theater. But I keep thinking about the lion. Muscles rippling, calm, confident, invincible.

Jesus little baby born in a manger, how can you grow up so strong? Men grow strong, but not like this. Jesus, "like a lion he crouches and lies down ... until the obedience of the nations is his." Jesus does not do this with intimidation or bravado, with coercion or violence. This is a lion of love.

I don't grab onto the lion's mane, I don't tickle him or tease him. "Course he isn't safe...but he's good," says Mrs. Beaver to Lucy ( But as I watch his tail swish back and forth, and notice the moisture on his nose, and look into his eyes, I don't feel the fear of earth. Nothing in his face makes me think I'm in danger. Instead I feel the respect and attention a father pays to his son.

Not just for junior high kids (although maybe especially for junior high kids), doubt and fear ruin so much of our lives. Being with the king of the jungle changes me deep inside. Jesus' calm certainty is contagious. As he believes in me, I want to believe in him. And lie down with him, get up with him, and follow him.

Jesus, lead me. Thank you for breathing in to me your inspiration. Your breath on my face makes me live.

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