Jesus Welcomes - Like a Lamb
A Good Friday Reflection
(c) Copyright 2008 Rev. Bill Versteeg
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
A Lamb - most of us would think of a young lamb skipping about in a field, or maybe if we are into “mutton,” we would think of a juicy meal. But for an Israelite, for a person who heard these words from John, only one particular lamb would come to mind - the Lamb of the Passover. The Passover was celebrated every year. During that week of celebration, an Israelite family would take a young lamb, without blemish, and for four days that lamb would live with the family as they watched it, inspect it, to make sure that it was well fed and healthy in every way. It would become the Lamb of the family, their Lamb. Their chosen Lamb. Often children, the family, would get attached to it. They would play with it and cuddle it. Then 4 days later, the lamb which had become the family’s lamb, would be slaughtered, eaten, its blood placed over the door lintels and posts of the home. As they ate the Passover with its lamb, its bitter herbs, they would remember the bitterness of Egypt, and the day when, placing the lamb’s blood on their doorways, they found refuge under the blood of their lamb, their neighbors, the poor, those who did not have a lamb came to be there with them under the blood stained lintel, and the angel of death Passed Over their home, whereas the angel of Death went to all the Egyptian homes to take the life of everything that was firstborn. Blood from a lamb on the cross piece of wood of their door protected them from divine judgement and in the process set them free from the tyranny of Egypt.
John said: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
In using those very words, he was pointing for all to see the Passover Lamb now provided by God. For thirty years Jesus grew from baby to manhood, and then for three years he ministered, all could watch, inspect, see this Jesus, the perfect Son of God. They were awestruck by his authority and riveted by his purity and beauty. He was the Glory of the One and Only. To Him, children were welcomed. Neighbors, the poor, the sick, the powerless were welcomed by him. Sinners were his friends. For many the Son became their friend, their Lord. They grew to love Him. He became their Lamb. But then in the terror of one holy week, they saw the Son of God, slaughtered, His blood painted by a thorny blood stained brush on the lintel called a cross.
Had they in those dark sinister moments seen the cross through their history, through John’s call - “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” - on the cross they would have seen the Lamb, its blood on the door cross lintel an invitation to find refuge under its wings, a welcome to all who would come find refuge under the blood. Maybe through this dark night they would have sensed the angel of death fly over, not daring to come near to those hiding under the blood of the Lamb painted on the doorway to eternal life. Maybe they would have seen history happening all over again, being set free from the tyranny of slavery.
They wouldn’t for a few more days. But we do. “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” For us he is the Passover Lamb. And he welcomes us, we can hide in the shelter provided by his blood, for us he is the hospitality of God. Eternal death dares not touch us, or our families, or those who join us to find refuge under the blood, for this is the Lamb of God.
What wonderrous love is this, O my Soul, O my Soul,
What wondreous lover is this, O my Soul
That you my savior,, the Lamb of God
Should cast aside your life - for my soul!
What glory can I give you, what honor can I show, for you the Lord welcomed me,
You are my hiding place
You are my hiding place
You shall preserve me from trouble
You shall compass me about with songs of deliverance
What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.