Wednesday, October 29, 2008

lamb

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared - Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” – Jn 1:29

The Baptizer has already testified that he isn’t the Messiah. He’s now ready to bear witness to the Lamb of God – the Lamb that takes away the world’s sins.

We’re used to this Messianic title by now. But think about how these words would have sounded the moment they left the Baptizer’s lips. The Jews expected a Messiah – but a lamb? The Messiah was supposed to be a lion if anything. The Lamb of God? This is like expecting a pit bull and getting a poodle; like buying a ticket for a heavyweight bout and watching “mini me” step into the ring. The Lamb of God?

Yes. Lambs play a key role in Israel’s salvation history. Lambs are the centerpiece of the Jewish feast of Passover, and historically speaking, a lamb was Israel’s ticket out of slavery and death.

The Israelites, you may recall, became slaves in the land of Egypt. And because they were God’s elect, God sent Moses to Pharaoh – “Let my people go!!” Pharaoh refuses. He’s a fan of the free labor. In fact, Pharaoh’s heart is so hard that God is forced to kill every first-born Egyptian male to free His chosen people. And so God “passes-through” Egypt and executes the first born male of every house that doesn’t display the secret sign. Of course, God gave His special people the secret sign. And that secret sign involved a “lamb without blemish” (Ex 12:5). Israel was told to slaughter it and display the lamb’s blood on the doorposts of their home. “For the Lord will pass through the land and strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood … on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not … strike you down” (Ex 12:23). God “passed-through” Egypt and “passed-over” Israel. And a lamb’s blood was at the center. A lamb was Israel’s ticket out of slavery and death.

Let’s fast forward to Jesus’ death. John tells us that Jesus was crucified “on the day of the Preparation for the Passover” (Jn 19:14). What happens on the day of preparation? Lambs are slaughtered. The temple is full of bleating lambs and piles of blood. It has a certain smell to it. It’s messy. It’s loud. It’s the biggest festival of the year. Once a year lambs were “prepared.” And this was the day that Jesus died. On a hill outside Jerusalem, Jesus died with the other Passover lambs. He died as a Passover lamb.

Why? Because Jesus is the Lamb without blemish. His blood, sprinkled on the doorposts of our heart, is our ticket out of slavery and death. Jesus is the Lamb of God. The Lamb’s blood is still the center.

UNTIL MONDAY, NOV 3RD: Consider what it means for Jesus, the Messiah, to be God’s Lamb. It begins with Jesus’ perfect sacrifice. But it doesn’t end there. Consider how the Lamb can also be the perfect shepherd (Jn 10:11)? In what ways are we supposed to become lambs (Jn 15:13)?

1 comment:

Karen said...

Hey, I'm a lame commenter--still reading, though.