Animals have been used in warfare from ancient days. Horses pulled chariots and bore soldiers into the thick of the fight. Warriors sat astride camels in the sands of the Near East. The Soviets even trained dogs to carry bombs that demolished German tanks. The Greeks warriors under Alexander the Great rode elephants into combat. Pigeons winged secret messages through the sky. Mules tugged war wagons.
You name it, a whole zoo of animals has been harnessed to aid men in the defeat of other men.
When God goes to war, he too employs an animal. But he does the unthinkable, the foolish. He chooses not a strong horse or a sturdy camel, not even the most ferocious canine. No, when the Lord is ready for battle, of all creatures, he commissions Mary’s little lamb.
The Lamb of God goes forth to war. No claws with which to tear. No fangs with which to bite. No hooves with which to crush. This lamb is a sitting duck. He walks onto the battlefield with all of hell’s tanks blasting at him. The bullets of a thousand sins scream through the air at him. At the end of the battle, his white wool has become blood red. The Lamb of God is a victim of violence. Wolf-like men devour him. He is dead, the lamb, the innocent one, the sacrifice.
When God goes to war, he goes to lose in order that we might win. We, the enemy, kill God’s lamb. And in that death, we live. For on that battlefield, the lamb who dies, to the shock of all creation, stands on his feet three days later. “Death and life have contended, In that combat stupendous; the Prince of life who died, reigns immortal.” “The Lamb the sheep has ransomed.” He wins the war not by show of might, not by prowess in battle, but by defeat in death and victory in resurrection. When the Lamb is alive again, all creation, including us, arises to life in him.
So “let your Alleluias leap!” “Let love grow strong anew, and great, Let truth stamp out the lie.” Lay down your weapons. Gather round this lamb. And feast joyfully and sumptuously upon the feast of his love.
**This is part of a series of meditations I wrote for an Easter Hymn Festival of Praise at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Leland, MI.