Jesus Christ in the Gospels: Lion, Ox, Man, Eagle
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1)
Matthew 1 begins with the genealogy of Jesus. The book of Matthew presents Jesus as the king of the Jews. It shows Him through this genealogy as the legal heir of the throne of David through Joseph.
All of the gospels depict Jesus differently. And here is the background. In the Old Testament tabernacle and temple stood the figure of the Cherubim. There were four faces on these Cherubim; the face of a lion; the face of an ox; the face of a man; and the face of an eagle. The early church fathers applied these four symbols to the four Gospels as they reveal different perspectives of Jesus’ life.
The Lion represents Jesus, the King of the Jews. The kingship of Jesus is the theme of the book of Matthew. The ox represents Jesus as the suffering servant, and this is typified in the book of Mark. Mark represents Jesus as the worker, serving mankind by preaching, teaching, healing, and delivering form satanic bondage. The human face represents Jesus the son of man and He is typified in the book of Luke. In Luke we have a display of the humanity of Jesus and He is represented as the Son of man. Details of his birth are given in Luke, showing that He was both God and man. Mary clothed Jesus with a body of flesh so that He could identify with our weakness, show His strength, and set us free.
The face of the eagle on the cherubim represents Jesus’ Divinity. The gospel of John reveals Jesus as the Son of God. John looks at Jesus from the aspect of his Divine nature. In John we see Jesus as the Living Word, pre-existing the body that Mary gave Him. We see Him as the Son from eternity past who came to give us light and to set us free!
In the genealogy of Matthew 1, four women are mentioned that had nothing to do with God’s covenant with Abraham. Tamar and Rahab are mentioned and they were both prostitutes. Ruth is mentioned, and she is from the cursed race of the Moabites. Bathsheba is mentioned, and of course she is the woman who committed adultery with David.
Why did God add these women to the genealogy? I believe that He wanted us to know that we are accepted into the family of God regardless of our background. Jesus was a friend of sinners, and when He cleanses from sin, it is so thorough that He is glad to include us in His family tree! Neither race, gender, social place, nor political persuasion can keep us from the love and forgiveness that Jesus offers if we will simply humble ourselves. He will be to us everything we need. The face of the lion, the ox, the man, and the eagle all represent the fact that Jesus came as the king; not too mighty or proud to work; willing to identify with our humanness; yet being Sovereign Deity who reigns over all.
As member of His body, let’s identify with Jesus and see every person through His eyes. Every person is precious to Him. He love and forgives if we simply yield and accept His freely given grace and mercy. Let’s look beyond the flesh when we see others, and place on them the value that God places on them. For God so loved the world!