Why Is Jesus Called The Lion Of Judah? Unpacking The Symbolic Roots Of His Title

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Published by Kenneth Garcia


Co-Founder of Biblekeeper, Author & Theologian

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Many scholars have wondered, “Why is Jesus called the Lion of Judah?” This intriguing title attributed to Jesus Christ has rich historical, biblical, and symbolic significance. This designation is drawn from the tribe of Judah, which encapsulates Jesus’ identity as a protector and compassionate leader.

In the context of biblical symbolism, the lion is representative of power, authority, and nobility. It’s no wonder that this majestic creature was chosen to signify the stature and dominion of Jesus Christ.

By examining this symbolic figure, we are invited to gain a profound understanding of Jesus’ multifaceted role as we unravel these layers of symbolism and reflect on the lion’s associations with royalty, strength, and guidance.

What Does The Lion Of Judah Mean?

The Significance Of Judah In Biblical History

The tribe of Judah[1], one of Jacob’s twelve sons, is pivotal in the Bible’s narrative. Jacob blesses his children as the twelve tribes of Israel in Genesis 49. This act portrays Judah as a symbol of leadership and strength, foretelling that the ruler’s staff will rest with Judah until the appearance of a Messianic figure.

The prophecy echoes in the New Testament, where Jesus Christ is identified as the young lion and “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” Notably, King David, a descendant of Judah, gained prominence for his victory over Goliath, his role in making Jerusalem the capital, and the establishment of the Davidic dynasty. Combining royal and priestly functions, this dynasty becomes emblematic of Judah’s role in shaping Israel’s political and spiritual landscape.

Following the Babylonian exile, the tribe of Judah is connected to the broader Jewish identity, as the term “Jew” originates from “Judah.” Judah’s legacy is woven through prophecies, the lineage of kings and priests, and its association with the awaited Messiah, culminating in its enduring influence on Jewish and Christian traditions.

The Meaning Of The “Lion Of Judah”

The phrase “Lion of Judah” appears in Revelation 5:5, echoing its significance in the lineage of Judah. In Genesis 49, Jacob’s prophetic words over his sons establish the foundation as he blesses his son Judah. Jacob’s twelve sons formed Israel’s tribes, and Judah held prominence in Jesus’ ancestry, highlighted in Matthew 1’s genealogy. Jacob’s prophecy in Genesis 49:8–12 bestows praise on Judah.

In Revelation 5:5, the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” represents a triumphant king from Judah’s line. This metaphor encapsulates Christ’s majestic authority, mirroring the lion’s regal traits. The Lion’s symbolism encompasses messianic prophecy, kingly dominion, victory over adversity, and righteous judgment.

This imagery harmonizes with Jesus’ role as the ultimate judge and Savior. Hence, comprehending the “Lion of Judah” involves recognizing the deep biblical roots that link it to Judah’s lineage, prophecy, and Christ’s profound significance.

Why Is Jesus Called The Lion Of Judah And The Lamb?

The Lion As Conqueror And King

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

— Revelation 5:5

The imagery of the lion symbolizes Jesus’ victorious and kingly nature. Lions symbolize strength, courage, and leadership. Calling Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah alludes to his descent from this tribe among the twelve of Israel.

This lineage is crucial as it fulfills the prophecy that the Messiah would come through Judah (Genesis 49:10). In the context of Revelation, the lion symbolizes Jesus’ authority and power over all things. It portrays him as the triumphant and sovereign ruler who will ultimately overcome all evil and establish his kingdom.

The Lamb As Sacrifice

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

— John 1:29

The imagery of the lamb draws from the Old Testament sacrificial system, where lambs were offered as sacrifices to atone for sins. This concept is deeply rooted in the Jewish faith and symbolizes the need for a pure and innocent substitute to pay for humanity’s wrongdoing.

Jesus’ identification as the Lamb of God reflects his role as the ultimate and perfect sacrifice. He willingly offered Himself as the sacrificial lamb to reconcile humanity with God, taking upon Himself the world’s sins and providing a way for forgiveness and redemption. This imagery emphasizes his love, humility, and selflessness in giving his life for the salvation of humanity.

The juxtaposition of the lion and the lamb in the context of Jesus’ mission highlights the paradoxical nature of his mission. He is both the powerful ruler who will establish his kingdom and the humble Savior who offers Himself as a sacrifice. This duality highlights the profound nature of Jesus’ identity as fully God and fully human, able to embody attributes that might seem contradictory in other contexts.

Furthermore, the symbolism of the lion and the lamb speaks to the concept of divine mystery and the depth of understanding that surpasses human comprehension. It reminds believers that Jesus’ nature and mission go beyond easy categorization, encapsulating a religious complexity that underscores his divine nature.

In summary, the imagery of the lion and the lamb captures essential aspects of Jesus’ identity as the conquering King and the sacrificial Savior. It illustrates the depth and richness of his role in the redemption and governance of humanity.

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How Is Jesus The Lion Of The Tribe Of Judah?

And every tongue acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

— Philippians 2:11

Various compelling reasons substantiate that Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah. Jacob’s prophetic message to Judah holds significance in this regard. It was foretold that Judah’s brothers would praise him. This notion aligns with Philippians 2:9–11, emphasizing that Jesus would be exalted above all names and that every being would bow at mentioning his name.

Jacob’s additional proclamation of Judah’s dominance over enemies, symbolized by his hand on their necks, finds a parallel in 1 Corinthians 15:24–26. This passage illustrates Jesus’ ultimate triumph over dominion, authority, and power, culminating in the defeat of death itself. The concept of all adversaries being vanquished echoes Jacob’s vision of Judah’s authority.

The prophecy in Genesis about the unending presence of the scepter within Judah’s lineage is mirrored in history. The line of Jacob consistently produced kings, culminating in Jesus, the Messiah, originating from the tribe of Judah. This fulfillment underscores the credibility of Jesus as the lion’s whelp and lion of the tribe of Judah.

Interestingly, Revelation 5:5–6 portrays the Lion of the tribe of Judah as the Lamb of God. This dual depiction captures the essence of Jesus’ two-fold nature. As the perfect sacrificial lamb, his blood cleanses humanity of sin. God exalted Jesus as he embodied the mighty lion destined to rule over Earth.

The multifaceted evidence solidifying Jesus as the lion of the tribe of Judah is compelling. Jacob’s prophecies align with New Testament passages, foretelling Jesus’ exaltation and supremacy over adversaries. The lineage of Judah consistently producing rulers, leading to the birth of Jesus, further bolsters this claim.

Revelation’s portrayal of Jesus as the Lion and the Lamb encapsulates his dual role as a sacrificial Savior and a future reigning King. These interconnected threads weave a coherent tapestry affirming Jesus’ significance as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

4 Powerful Reasons Why Jesus Is Called The Lion Of Judah

1. Messianic Prophecy

The tribe of Judah held importance in the Old Testament as the predicted source of the messianic lineage. Genesis 49:10 features Jacob’s prophecy about his sons, proclaiming that authority would remain with Judah until Shiloh’s arrival, signifying a future ruler. The messianic prophecy that “your father’s sons shall bow down to you” is fulfilled in Jesus, the Lion of Judah.

2. Royal Authority And Kingship

Lions are often referred to as animals with strength, courage, and regal authority. By being called the “Lion of Judah,” Jesus is depicted as the ultimate king with supreme authority. This title emphasizes his sovereignty and rule over all creation. Jesus is frequently called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the New Testament, emphasizing his royal nature.

3. Victorious Savior

Lions are also symbols of power and victory in many cultures. Referring to Jesus as the lion’s cub and the Lion of Judah signifies his victory over sin, death, and evil through his sacrificial death and resurrection. Just as a lion’s dominance is evident, Jesus triumphed over death, offering salvation and eternal life to believers.

4. Judgment And Justice

Lions are also often associated with judgment and justice. In the Bible, Jesus is depicted as a just judge who opens the seven seals, holding all accountable for their deeds. The title “Lion of Judah” emphasizes his role as a righteous judge, ensuring justice and equity in the world. This aspect of his character is aligned with his role in separating the righteous from the unrighteous on the Day of Judgment.

desert landscape with blue sky and why is jesus called the lion of judah


Why is Jesus called the Lion of Judah? The lion symbolizes Christ’s eternal kingship and power, while the lamb embodies his lasting role as a merciful savior. Jesus, the innocent lamb, secured our victory over sin through his sacrificial work on the cross. This act allows us to partake in his glory, marking a profound union of strength and grace.

In summary, calling Jesus the Lion of Judah is a rich metaphor that encompasses his messianic fulfillment, royal authority, victorious nature, and role as a just judge. It captures various aspects of his identity and mission as presented in the Bible, highlighting his central role in Christianity as the Savior and Lord.

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