Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jesus: The Lamb of God

Sheep, Stodmarsh 6
I want you to imagine something for me.  Picture two lambs.  One is well fed, fluffy, and pure white.  It lays contentedly in the shepherd's arms.  The other is dead, its throat slit.  The scarlet blood pooling beneath its body, shocking against the pale wool.  These are the two predominant pictures of lambs found in the Bible, and beautifully depicted in the song "Lamb of God," by Twila Paris.   Jesus became one lamb so that we could become the other. 

Your only son, no sin to hide...

The Passover lamb (and all other animals to be sacrificed) had to be unblemished (Exodus 12:5).  God would not accept a sacrificial lamb that was not the very best his people had to offer.  Jesus, the true sacrifice, likewise had to be perfect.  Despite living in this sinful world, he was completely without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  Only in this way could he be the perfect sacrifice for us. 

But you have sent Him from your side, to walk upon this guilty sod and to become a Lamb of God.

Jesus had been one with the Father since the beginning (John 1:1), yet it was God's plan from the beginning for us to be redeemed through His blood (Ephesians 1:3-8).  The Passover lamb was only a copy, a shadow, of the lamb that was to come take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). 

Your gift of love they crucified; they laughed and scorned him as he died
The humble king, they named a fraud, and sacrificed the Lamb of God.

This is the only part of this lovely song that I can't agree with.  Yes, some of the Jews and Romans worked together to have Jesus crucified.  They mocked him; they called him a fake.  But they did not sacrifice Jesus.  He offered himself (Hebrews 9:14).  He offered himself so that we could be holy and unblemished before the Lord (Ephesians 1:4; 5:26-27).

I was so lost, I should have died, but you have brought me to your side
To be led by your staff and rod, and to become a lamb of God.

This verse always makes me tear up a little.   Through the sacrfice that Jesus made, we become lambs ourselves.  Not lambs to be sacrificed (unless as a living sacrifice), but to be led, cherished, and loved.  I can't help but think back to the story Nathan told David: 

The poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb Which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him (2 Samuel 12:3). 

Although in this story, the little ewe lamb represented Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, I know that God views us in the same way, with the same devotion and love.  Think about the words: "which he had bought..." We know God bought us back from sin with the currency of Jesus' blood (1 Corinthians 6:20).  "It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup..." Is that not what we do each Sunday when we partake of the Lord's supper?  

Not only that, but Jesus compares himself to a shepherd and us to his sheep several times.  My favorite is in John 10. 

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.  A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.

I have heard many people say that sheep are really stupid, and they need the shepherd to keep them from doing dumb things that will kill them.  While I'm hardly an expert on sheep, a close reading of this passage shows that sheep are smart in at least on area: they know their shepherd.  This isn't a trifling matter.  They know who feeds them, who cares for them, who loves them.  They will go to him and none other.  Sounds pretty smart to me.  

Jesus wants me to be that lamb.  He wants me to be the lamb that follows her master's voice.  He wants me to be cherished, nourished, loved, and cared for.  That's why he became the Lamb of God, so I can too.

Oh lamb of God, sweet lamb of God
I love the holy lamb of God
O wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ the Lamb of God


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