2nd Sunday OT
There are some things, some words that we simply don’t like to be referred to by. Chances are no matter who you are, you have been made fun of, teased or picked on at some point in your life, really it’s inevitable. It’s ok to joke, but we have to make sure that we never take things too far—to the point where it becomes hurtful. We should protect our dignity as a human person, but it’s also important to not be overly sensitive either. For Marty McFly, in the Back to the Future trilogy all it took was one word and he came completely undone. Chicken. What are you chicken? Call the guy a chicken and he lost his mind. What then can we gather from St. John the Baptist, the voice of the one crying out in the desert and what is the word He uses to refer to Jesus: Lamb. “Behold the Lamb of God” At least chickens have their own dance associated with them, what does a lamb have? Should Jesus be offended?
Turns out that the lamb is more than just mutton chops, actually of all animals the lamb held a distinct place of importance in the history of Israel. We recall the Passover, when Moses and the people of Israel trapped and enslaved in Egypt were set free as they were released promptly after the Angel of the Lord passed over their dwellings. This event centered around the sacrifice of the lamb. Each home would provide a one year old unblemished male lamb, they would shed it’s blood which was then placed on the doorposts, and then they would conclude by sharing a meal where they proceeded to eat it’s flesh.
This tradition would continue into the time of Jesus himself, but instead at His time the lamb became a sort of a sacrificial sponge that would absorb the sins of whomever it would be offered for. This point plays off the more ancient biblical narrative of Abraham and Isaac. Good ‘ol honest Abe finally gets to have a kid, and no sooner does the boy hit puberty than God asks Abraham to kill Isaac, we’re not sure if Sarah, the boy’s mother seconded the request after the teenage
hormones got to be too much or not, but we do know Abraham was obedient and took his only begotten son up to the top of Mount Moriah in order to take his life. As they begin their ascent— Isaac being no dummie—asks his father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice—-and Abraham responds prophetically, God will provide himself a lamb. These words are held over the course of time until they find in Jesus their fulfillment.
Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, He is the sacrificial offering who’s blood was spilt so that we might be set free. The sin of mankind has been transferred over to him and placed upon his shoulders. He has carried our crosses, even the painful ones we endure right now, he knows them and has offered himself upon them claiming victory in and through His love. And so we come to our temple, our altar of sacrifice, and we hear the words of John uttered in our midst, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him, who takes away the sins of the world.”
What does it mean to behold? I think it is to be taken into him as we take Him in to us, He now absorbs us into his heart, our sins cleansed, our lives made whole the holy reception of His flesh in the Eucharist is our entryway into eternity. Heaven and earth are united through a simple and docile Son, who follows His Father’s will and in doing so restores order to the cosmos. Jesus the Lamb of God is given for you and for me that we might taste life in it’s fullness. “Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb.”