Posts Tagged ‘lamb of God’

There’s not much glory in being the sidekick, particularly if the person is true to his/her mission.

A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. [John 1:6-10, CEB]

It’s an interesting story, this tale of John the Baptist, who made such a huge splash (pun intended) in Judea, living on the fringe of society, prophesying endlessly, drawing colossal crowds, and calling on the people to ceremonially cleanse themselves in preparation for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. He was all fire and determination. But he was also a catalyst.

John did not ride with Jesus and yet he was one of the key disciples. John moved things along. He challenged the norm; he challenged Jesus himself. (See Matthew 14.) John instigated the situation with Herod and knew that condemning a leader’s actions would get him put into jail. He was no fool. But he also knew he had to step away from the limelight in order for Jesus to take the reins of that moment in history.

Up until then, Jesus was doing a lot of teaching along with a few miracles and he built his team of twelve and even sent them out to try their hands at ministry, but he hadn’t really inflamed the leadership. But after John was in prison and eventually beheaded, Jesus began manifesting a series of fantastic unexplainable miracles from feeding thousands of people to walking on water and even transcending our three-dimensional world on Mount Tabor during his “transfiguration.” He stepped up his game.

John was the sidekick who was willing to sacrifice everything for the mission of Jesus. John the Baptist had been in the limelight and turned that light toward his cousin Jesus.

In our modern world, people are not always as willing to step aside or step down for the sake of the friend or partner or colleague.

I complain so often that my young adult children still believe the world revolves them. But perhaps I am no better. Can I learn from John and say, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” [John 1:29b, NIV]

Turn your eyes and look with me this day.

Advent: Day five.

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passover-lambIt’s easier to read the story about God “testing” Abraham when you know how it turns out. As I contemplated this tale, I wondered if Jesus remembered this story as He was being dragged to the cross, knowing full well that He the was Lamb. But that’s another story. In this one, who knew?

Genesis 21:7
Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

As a mother, I cannot do anything but head right for the emotions of the moment. How did it feel to be Abraham preparing the sacrifice of his son at the command of God, who had been all about the promises of descendants as numerous as the stars? Despite departing right away the next day, it was still a three day journey to the mountain where the sacrifice was to take place. Three days of contemplating the loss of his beloved son. Three days of wondering how God would work things out. Three days of surrendering. It could not have been an easy journey.

And how did Isaac feel, once they arrived, tied up and placed on the prepared altar, wood loaded and knife in his own Father’s hand? Did he go calmly? Did he really think, “Wow, my Dad is truly faithful. He’s amazing!” I don’t think so.

In fact, we don’t really hear about the relationship between Isaac and Abraham after this experience at all until Abraham is “very old” and acquires a wife for Isaac who is now forty years old. What was Isaac up to all those years? No telling. We will never know.

But it doesn’t change the story, does it? Whether they feared or not feared, whether they cried or screamed or complained, it didn’t matter. Abraham acted. Abraham took his “here I am” seriously, because “here I am” also means I am willing to do whatever you ask me. No one says, “Here I am” to God and then follow up with, “I’ll think about it.” And because Abraham had already agreed to do whatever God asked him to do, he followed through.

And really, here’s the truth of it for me. When I became a follower of Christ more than thirty years ago, I also said, “Here I Am.” I think I’ve been forgetting what it meant. And, quite honestly, I’ve put my head in the sand about the lamb, figuring Jesus did all that hard work. And that’s basically true, but there are the daily sacrifices and the long-term ones. There are still challenges and obedience.

The lamb is here.

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If you thought the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was a extravagant affair, just wait until the next royal or papal coronation. I reviewed the YouTube footage of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953: thousands and thousands and tens of thousands . . .

Revelation 5:11, 13
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. . . . Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To [the one] who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

This is the picture I imagine as John describes his vision of the throne, the lamb, the living creatures, the elders, and the angels, all singing, all joining voices in adulation. For John to be able to describe this picture, he is somehow separate from it, like a television camera. He is not in the event nor part of the event. He is an observer, a witness of a unique sort, a reporter.

Here in the United States, it is outside our ken. We have well attended inaugurations and there is a type of pomp but nothing on the order of Great Britain’s royalty. And now, with modern television, the numbers who are watching have multiplied exponentially. It is as though the the entire earth can witness these events.

This “heavenly” coronation image is the only way John can wrap his mind around and give image or voice to the importance of the moment. The Christ, who entered human form and by God-given power, was able to propitiate (satisfy or atone) for a previously made agreement or covenant that Human made with God and then broke.

This is not the stuff of soccer and Facebook, football and Miss America. This has to do with the fabric of creation outside of our three-dimensional sensibilities.

John did the best he could with what he knew.

In today’s world, we have other visionaries and artists who try to imagine or conceptualize this non-dimensional place or rather, an actuality. But we fall short. Instead, we have our own versions of celebrations and weddings and coronations in an attempt to capture the importance and wonder of a vow, a promise, a covenant, a new identity, a new responsibility.

Why do we have ceremony? Why do you? What is the message?

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John 18:39-40
“…But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” [Pilate asked] They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

Barabbas was the first one to experience Jesus as his “savior.” Barabbas was already slated to die by crucifixion (perhaps even that day). Instead, Jesus died for him. Barabbas went free and an innocent man died in his place.

I remember seeing the old movie (1961) called Barabbas with Anthony Quinn playing the lead. Jesus is never seen directly. But that movie marked me as a child. I remember Barabbas looking out of his cell window and recognizing that Jesus was going to death in his stead. Is it true? Who knows? But it graphically sets before us that opportunity to recognize Jesus as a savior…. a trans-formative power… an advocate… a friend. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

This little story of Barabbas is a word picture of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are the rebels. He is the lamb.

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