Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. John 1:29
Where is our focus for these days of preparation? John gave us the answer. We focus on the Lamb of God. Is there anything more endearing than a lamb, cavorting carefree in the field, pink-lined ears antennas for all the delightful sounds of their new world. Who doesn’t love lambs? So when John the Baptist makes the stunning declaration that Jesus is God’s lamb, what did everybody expect to see? A winsome, smiling, knows-no-stranger innocent who could be everybody’s best friend?
The problem with this picture is that the Jews understood that a lamb was for sacrifice. It was all metaphor. The innocent would stand-in for the guilty, take the death blow, and the plea for forgiveness would swirl in a smoky trail to heaven. To think of this man, who walked with a sense of purpose to be baptized into the life John compared to the life of a lamb raised for slaughter was outrageous. Did anyone really understand Jesus as God’s lamb?
Besides, the priests had plenty of lambs for sacrifice. If someone had asked them, they would have declined the need for another lamb. Still, the idea that God had set aside His lamb to take away was a truth too raw for comprehending.
Isn’t that what our Journey to Easter is supposed to do? Make us look again at God’s lamb, the darling of Heaven as Darlene Zscheck writes in “Worthy is the Lamb.” Aren’t we supposed to see this beginning from its end? Aren’t we supposed to see our lives on the line in Jesus’ purposeful walk into the Jordan River?
Look at God’s lamb as you take this journey of review and reflection. Look at his focus, his restraint, his availability, his teaching, his gift. Take your place beside the Jordan River and see what God allowed John to see as the story started . . . God’s lamb sent just for you.
What part of this story startles you? Confuses you? Angers you? Humbles you? Remember, you don’t have to put yourself in Jesus’ place because Jesus came to put himself in your place. That’s lamb work.
Lamb of God,
help me see you as my lamb, sent to take my place
in a death that I cannot save myself from.
I repent of self-centered, casual following that is not worthy of your lamb’s work.
Oh, Lamb of God, I come to you
because there is no one who came for me like you did.