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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Lamb of God

Image by Getty Images via @daylife
What does it mean to be the Lamb of God?  We use that phrase a lot, and it means different things to different people.  What did it mean to the Pharisees, the Disciples, the little kid in Sunday school, the sinner afraid to come to church.  What does it mean to me?  What does it mean to God?

The Lamb of God: John's View
John the Baptist was preaching and teaching on the banks of the River Jordan, and there he baptized Jesus.  The next day he was standing with some of his disciples and Jesus was there.  John said,  “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)  There were other people there too.  The Pharisees came out to see John, and they heard his proclamation.  They were very well versed in the Law and they knew the scriptures  concerning the Passover well.  John did not know all the details, but he knew this one thing:  Jesus was the one he came to proclaim as the Lamb of God.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law knew the lamb of the Passover to be the one who took away the sin of a year, but it had to be repeated every year.  Was he saying Jesus was more than that?  Moses had given them the Passover so that they could come before God sinless for one day, but the day after the sacrifice they began to rebuild the store of sins and trespasses.  It only lasted for a day.  A man as the Lamb of God--how could that be? 

The Lamb of God: The Disciples' View

The Twelve came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. After Peter's confession in John 6:68 and in Matthew 16:16 Jesus began to emphasize that he would go to Jerusalem and die.  It disturbed them when he talked about his own death.  In Matthew 16:22 Peter chastised him and counseled him not to say things like that.  But Jesus returned the rebuke.  He knew his destiny:  He would go to Jerusalem.  That meant pain, rejection, suffering, death.  The Disciples could not look beyond the death or even understand resurrection.  He spoke about his death to them more after this,but their understanding was still faulty.  They could accept he was the Son of God, but being the Lamb took longer.  The Son could be kind or gracious or majestic.  The Lamb meant pain and suffering and crucifixion.  

In John 6 and Matthew 16 Jesus went to great lengths to explain the meaning of feeding on his flesh.  He had blessed bread and they sought more.  Now he tells the crowds he was the bread of life.  That was sort of hard to take, but when he said "eat my flesh and drink my blood," they couldn't take it.  Many of them followed him no more. (John 6:66 )  These words bring the Lamb of God into sharp focus.  

Lamb of God: Spiritually Immature View

Little children in Sunday school are not ready for the very mature reality of Jesus as the Lamb of God, so we effectively inoculate them with Jesus as docile and defenseless.  It is true that he came before Pilate without defense.  He did not call a legion of Angels to defend him.  He was meek and mild.  When adults who can approach this concepts still have the picture of Jesus as a victim without power, we have failed to teach the reality of who Jesus is.

Lamb of God: Sinners' View,  in or out of the Church

Sinners, the lost, and the worldly who hear the words of Jesus, the Lamb of God, may know there is something more to this than they understand.  Like the crowds that turned back and the Pharisees that sought the law, they are seeking something more concrete.  Jesus has only himself to offer, and the sinner has a load of guilt he doesn't know what to do with.  He feels he has to clean it up and make it look better before he can stand before God.  He misses the point:  Jesus will take care of it.  Name the sins and leave that baggage beside the door.  Jesus will take you and love you and redeem you, when you go in to dinner with him.

The Lamb of God:  My View
Jesus is the Lamb of God who has done for me what I could not do for myself.  He reveals places in me that I didn't know were there; places of sin and darkness and places of joy and light are revealed as he shows me myself through his eyes.  He feeds me on his own presence as I abide in him.

The Lamb of God:  God's View

The Lamb of God is the person of Jesus who participated in our lives in the world.  He knows our needs and our blessings.  God himself saw our need for salvation before he ever created the world.  He knew we would be willful creatures before Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden.  He could have created us sinless and perfect, but he wanted us to have freedom.  He wanted us to love him when we had the option to do otherwise.  Because we would be capable of sin, he wanted a way to remove the sin if we chose to take it.  

Revelations 8:13 says that Jesus was "the Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth."  In the mind of God, if there was going to be a race of men, there must be a sacrifice for sin.  This is a weighty concept:  God knew before man was ever created that sin would be a reality.  In the mind of God the sacrifice for sin was a fact before the creation ever began.  He loved the world and created humans with the remedy for their sin already in place.
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