Thursday, April 16, 2009

the lamb

"He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)

I was reading from Praying the Names of Jesus this morning at breakfast and I am on the chapter that names Jesus "The Lamb of God." Growing up in the Catholic church, I recall hearing that phrase often. Every week, I believe, during communion. I even remember when the priest showed my confirmation group around the altar area where there was a picture of a lamb in some of the ornamental carvings. Nowadays, where I am in a So. Baptist church, it's not said weekly, but I am continually reminded of the sacrifice Christ was as the ultimate, final lamb given for our sins.
In the Old Testament times, the Jewish people sacrificed a lamb twice a day - once in the morning and once at night, to atone for their sins (Numbers 28:1-8). The lamb was killed and partially burnt. The author of the book, Ann Spangler, goes on to further clarify that, "To the Jews the lamb represented innocence and gentleness. Because the sacrifice was meant to represent the purity of intention of the person or people who offered it, lambs had to be without physical blemishes" (p80).
John the Baptist pointed out this title for Jesus (see John 1:24-35). Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice. The one time atonement for all of our sins, when we confess His lordship over our lives.

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

One of the questions that accompany this title in Spangler's book asks, "Imagine that you are walking into the temple holding a young lamb in your arms. He is like a favorite pet, but now he is going to be sacrificed for your sins. How do you feel? Now imagine doing the same thing over and over because no one sacrifice can possibly take away your sins. What thoughts go through your mind?"
How would you answer these questions?
I can't imagine sacrificing over and over again. I think after awhile it would feel futile. Like I could never do anything right if I had to keep sacrificing lambs. God would feel less personal and more out of reach.
Praise God, He did the unimaginable - He humbly came to earth to make the connection for us to Him. He is no longer impersonal. He not only created us and knows us, but made us to desire/need an intimate relationship with Him to be whole.

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