Monday, November 23, 2015

A Little Lamb

Thumb A sheep in the long grass 1024

I live in a city.  It’s not a huge metropolis, but it’s large enough to have a variety of defined neighborhoods, each with its own character and culture.  One thing that is pretty much a constant, however, is the quite normal scene of teens walking their lambs down the street to exercise them in preparation for the county fair.

If you think about it for a moment, you will realize that those lambs are growing up in someone’s back yard and are affecting far more than the teen who is raising them. Those of you who have been around a farm know that farm animals don’t take holidays off. They don’t get vacations.  That means their owners don’t get those breaks either, unless they make arrangements for someone else to do the work while they are gone.

I reflected on this and can imagine how many family conversations must turn to those lambs. “Did you bring home the food?”  “Did you check the water?”  “Did you clean up the mess?”  By the time that young person gets the lamb to the fair, the whole family will have been impacted by the animal.

I bring this up because one of the most beautiful and terrible descriptions of Jesus Christ is “Lamb of God.”  Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet was foretelling the death of Jesus when he said, "He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7 New Living Translation) Jesus fulfilled those words when He refused to defend Himself to the religious leaders who wanted Him dead.

John the Baptist (John, Chapter 1) reflected this same graphic word picture when, while baptizing in the Jordan River. “Behold, the Lamb of God…” he said, when he saw Jesus among the crowd who had come to hear his message.  This was at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry and most people had no idea what John was talking about. Long after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Simon Peter wrote,
18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver.
19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began...
(1 Peter 1:18-20 New Living Translation)
The Jewish people of Jesus’ day couldn’t hear the term “Lamb of God” without thinking of the generations before them who regularly sacrificed lambs to reflect on God’s mercy and power to save them from oppressors.  The idea that Jesus wasn’t just A lamb, but THE Lamb would have caused some deep soul-searching.

If Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” what difference does it make?  If you read carefully, you will see that the arrival of Jesus on the scene was disruptive to all kinds of people. Rich, poor, rulers, servants, wise and fools were all impacted by one single Lamb.  We have chosen this lens to look at the timeless story of the first Christmas.  Not only was the arrival of the Lamb a game-changer for many of those in Jesus’ day, He is still changing everything for all sorts of people today.  Our Christmas series, “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” begins this weekend at Stone Ridge Church.  We are excited to share it with you!  Can’t join us this weekend?  Catch the podcast!

As you spend a part of this week (hopefully) catching your breath, rejoicing with family and celebrating Thanksgiving, Cathy and I want you to know how thankful we are for each of you. Our lives are incredibly rich because of the gift of family and friends who share the journey with us!

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