Lent devotions 2011: Thursday 21 April

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’John 1:29

The Lamb of God: what a rich Biblical symbol this title is. Just think about it.

God commands Abraham to go to Mount Moriah to offer his only son, the son whom he dearly loves, Isaac (Gen. 22:2). With astounding obedience Abraham obeys the Word of the Lord, but on the way, Isaac realises something is not quite right as he asks, “where is the lamb?” (Gen. 22:7). Again, with wonder-filled faith Abraham responds, “God will provide for Himself a lamb” (Gen. 22:8). And He did, as Isaac’s life was spared, and in his place a ram was sacrificed.

Then we turn to Exodus 12 where we see the Passover lamb being sacrificed to save the death of the first-born Israelites. The blood of the lamb was placed on the doorposts so that the angel of the Lord would “PASS OVER” the believing house. The blood of the lamb delivered God’s people from certain death.

The poor lamb’s lot continues as we read further in the Scriptures. Leviticus. 3 and 4 say that a lamb may be used as an offering for both sin and peace. The unblemished lamb is to be sacrificed at the tent of meeting in order that its blood may cover the sin of the people and through its blood peace with God and peace with one’s neighbour may also be achieved. Here again, the lamb and his blood point to forgiveness and reconciliation.

The imagery of the lamb is further sharpened in Isaiah. 53:7 where we find the Suffering Servant of God who is being led “like a lamb to the slaughter” to be a sacrificial substitute for the sheep who have gone astray. Here again, the poor spotless lamb bears the iniquity of others and he pays their price for deliverance, forgiveness, and life.

All of these passages flesh out what John the Baptiser meant when he called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. God did provide a sacrifice for Himself on the mountain. The blood of Jesus delivers us from death as God passes over our transgressions. The blood of Jesus atones for our sin and brings peace with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. All of these things were accomplished because He was the Lamb who was led to the slaughter for us sheep who love to go astray.

But that isn’t the end of the story, oh no. The Lamb of God was slain, but in Revelation 5, John informs us that the Lamb is seated on the throne of heaven. The Lamb was slain, but His blood has ransomed all people, and because of this fact, all the creatures in heaven cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12). That same “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, Jesus Christ, now lives and reigns forever as King of kings and Lord of lords.

And this fact is such wonderful news for us, because this Lamb of God; slain and risen for us, who lives to rule forever, says we are sheep of His pasture. He beckons and calls us to follow Him, the Good Shepherd, so that we might be declared a Lamb of God.

O Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God
I love the holy Lamb of God!
O wash me in His precious blood, my Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

Amen.

 

(LSB 550)

Friday 22nd April

“…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1: 18-19

 

GOOD FRIDAY

 

Good Friday only serves to demonstrate to us how futile OUR WAYS truly are.

 

‘Our ways’ are murderous ways. ‘Our ways’ are rebellious ways. ‘Our ways’ mock and taunt God. ‘Our ways’ would try and silence God. This is our inheritance from Adam and Eve’s first sin. In fact, the whole essence of sin is trying to do things ‘our way’.

 

The funny thing about Good Friday, if there is anything funny about Good Friday, is that God did allow us to do things ‘our way’. He allowed Jesus to be the victim of gross injustice; He allowed Jesus to be beaten, mocked, and ridiculed; He allowed Jesus to become a public spectacle of humiliation as He was nailed to a cross; He allowed Jesus to be forsaken of God; and He even allowed Jesus to die. That’s how WE do things.

 

Yet God knows we are held captive by the sin and selfishness that we have inherited. God knows that ‘our ways’ are ways of hatred, greed, lust, violence, and ultimately death. God knows we cannot free ourselves from these evil ways. Therefore He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to absorb our worst so that we could be set free from sin’s bondage.

 

Jesus did exactly that when He died on the cross. He paid the ultimate ransom price of His blood to set us free from ourselves. His precious blood broke the chains of sin, death, and the devil that held us tight. He has set us free from ‘our ways’ and once again opened up the door back to Yahweh.

 

Through His blood He has taken away our sin-for He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Because His blood covers us, God passes over our sin and spares our lives. Because His blood covers us, we now wear a robe of Christ’s righteousness. Because His blood covers our sin, we can call God “Abba, Father”.

 

When we tried to do our worst to God, He did what was best for us through Jesus Christ the sinless, spotless Lamb of God who purchased and redeemed us through the shedding of His precious blood.

 

Your soul in griefs unbounded,

Your head with thorns surrounded,

You died to ransom me.

The cross for me enduring,

The crown for me securing,

You healed my wounds and set me free.

 

Amen.