John 1:29 29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Revelation 5:5-6 5Then 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." 6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
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I would say that the contrasting imagery mentioned in the question is one of multiple instances in the Bible where the Messiah is metaphorically described, on the one hand, as a suffering servant (as in Isaiah 53) and as a meek, sacrificial lamb (John 1:35-36), and, on the other, as a conquering ruler (just as the lion is referred to as the "king of beasts"), in fulfillment of the dying prophecy of Jacob (Israel) in Genesis 49:8-12 concerning the descendants of his son Judah, which would include both temporal kings (such as David) and a coming Messiah (Jesus) who would rule over all people. Jesus has fulfilled both these roles through (as Paul noted in Philippians 2:5-11) willingly being born as a man (although He was also fully God), living a sinless life, suffering a sacrificial, redeeming death (in the same way as the lambs sacrificed in the Old Testament starting at the original Passover (Exodus 12)) to give eternal life to all who would believe in Him, and rising from the dead to live forever. It was His triumph over death that fulfilled the imagery of being a conquering lion, and allowed Him to satisfy both roles. (His imagery as a conquering lion will be fully realized when He returns in glory at the close of the age to finally do away with the power of the world, our flesh, and the devil, and to reign eternally.)
As Tim says its imagery used to refer to Jesus as the lamb showing humility, one who gives his life to save humanity. The lamb submits and is a sacrifice. The lion is his kingly nature, to rule and have dominion. The lion (kingly) is to execute God's divine purpose in the earth. The natures and function of the lamb and lion are found in Christ and His people who are also kings and priests. (Rev.1:6)
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