A Lamb and a Dove

Last night, how many men shoved a blade or shot a bullet into the back of some passerby for a few measly bucks?  How many sixteen-year-olds conceived babies that will soon fall prey to the abortionist’s knife?  How many children finally fell asleep after listening to the screams of their bruised and battered mothers?  How many lonely wives tossed and turned, fumed and wept, wondering in whose arms their absent husband lay?  How many porn sites were visited last night, how many families ripped apart, how many put the bottle to their head and pulled the trigger?

And worse yet, how many of us really care?  After all, we have our own problems and we get tired of hearing about the problems of others.  We lose sleep over our dwindling bank account but yawn over the news report of a hundred people murdered.  Is it not true?  We throw our pity-parties for the slightest amount of suffering and our temper-tantrums when life just doesn’t go our way.  We want families without problems, jobs without stress, old age without arthritis, roses without thorns. 

Behold, the sin of the world, that takes away the Lamb of God!  Behold our cold nails of lovelessness that pierce His wrists, our thorns of apathy that worm their way into His skull, our lashes of lust that plow crimson furrows upon His back.  Behold, the sin of the world—our own sin—that takes away the Lamb of God and hands Him over to the butcher’s blade.

But do not behold Him as One who wants our pity.  He doesn’t desire your sympathy; He simply desires you, your repentance, your trust.  That is why He came.  He came down from heaven for every person on earth.  For the thief and murderer, abortionist and adulterer, holier-than-thous, and all us who wag our fingers at them.  None are so bad that He did not die for them, none so good that they do not need Him.  For all have sinned and fallen long into the gory pit of sin.

So all, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  Let your eyes follow the pointing finger of John the Baptist, singling out the One who comes as the sole sheep of the Father’s flock.  He is the only Lamb of God.  He is the Sacrifice appointed from time immemorial.  When our first parents transgressed, there stood the Lamb, between the wrath of the Judge and the all-too-guilty sinners, ready to take away the sin of the world.  When Cain murdered, Noah got drunk, Moses got mad, and David got Bathsheba, there stood the Lamb, His fleece as white as snow, ready to be reddened to take away the sin of the world.   Then He came.  Mary had a little Lamb.

John points Him out.  He is the Lamb upon whom the Spirit lands like a dove.  Why like a dove?  Why not a sparrow or cardinal or eagle?  For in the days of Noah, when the waters of the flood had receded, the dove became a preacher.  He preached the end of the outpouring of divine wrath, the end of punishment, and the beginning of a new life.  The sermon of the dove was a homily of peace—peace between God and men, peace in the midst of waters. 

So on the Lamb of God the feathered Spirit lands and remains.  For when the Lamb stands in the waters of the Jordan River a new Flood has come, like unto but greater than the one in Noah’s day.  For Jesus is the stand-in for all humanity.  In Him is the murderer, pervert, liar, and cheat; you are in Him.  One for all.  And when John pours the baptismal flood over His head, He is a sponge, soaking up divine wrath for you.  In Him is the end of punishment.  In Him is the beginning of a new life.  He is the Lamb of God who takes up the place of the world in the Jordan flood; takes in your guilt and shame and death; and takes it all away.  All this that He might take you, cleansed and made alive, to His Father in heaven.  So the Spirit dove lights upon this Lamb.  That you might know peace and safety are found only in Him.  That you might actually have that peace and safety by being baptized in His flesh and blood.

He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, that takes away your sin.  And if He takes it away, it is no longer yours but His.  Your sins, whatever they be, belong no longer to you but to Jesus.  Your apathy is now His.  Your lies are now His.  Your pettiness or your prostitution; your murdering or your murmuring.  It matters not.  They no longer are your property.  They have transferred ownership.  Jesus has owned up to them.  He has taken them away.  And into your empty hands He has put peace, righteousness, goodness, grace.  All the good He has is yours for all the bad you had is His.

He has done it.  He does care.  He was ready and willing to be taken away by the sin of the world that He might take away your sin in the process.  Behold the Lamb of God.

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