This is a serialised version of a sermon preached as John the Baptist. Perhaps consider it a kind of ‘true confessions’ of that first eye-witness of the Lord.
I’ve been thinking. And I’m wondering if Jesus just might be ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’?
Not that I’m suggesting he’d be the star attraction for the under-6’s at the zoo. Give me a break! Have you ever actually hung around a flock of sheep out in the back-blocks of Palestine? It’s a dirty, smelly, cut-throat world.
No. There’s nothing particularly impressive or significant about a bunch of lambs. They’re stupid, mostly. Apart from roasting them with a little rosemary and garlic, probably the best thing you can do with them is offer them to God as a sacrifice! That is what being a Lamb is all about. That is what it means to be ‘the Lamb of God’, I’m sure. It’s got to be something like that!
Now the details are a bit sketchy, I know. Because if he’s the Lamb of God — and I guess it’s still a big ‘if’ — then, well, I suppose he’s going to die. And sure, I know everyone’s going to die, in a deep, existentialist sort of way. But this is different. This’ll be about sacrifice. About dealing with sin — like the lambs at the Temple. How could it mean anything less? To be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? To be crushed for us like Isaiah talked about?
I’m still chewing it all over, of course. And I can’t see exactly how it’s all going to work. But I’m thinking that maybe his ‘ordinariness’ is an advantage here. Not that he’s supremely average. But that he’s one of us — a human being, an Israelite, our brother. Which I guess he’d have to be if he’s going to represent us, stand in our place, die our death, deal with our sin. Kind of like a substitute.
But the Scripture’s tell us that no one can die in the place of anyone else. We’ve all got our own sin to deal with — one look at the sacrificial system will tell you as much: even the high priest has to go through an elaborate process of dealing with his own sin before he can approaching God on our behalf! But perhaps Jesus is the Lamb of God because he’s spotless. Blameless. Like one of the lambs we slaughter at Passover — without blemish or defect.
I know, I know! I hardly know the guy. Not these days. Could he really be spotless? Could he really not have his own sin to deal with? I’m starting to sound pretty crazy — even to myself.
What more, I guess we’re not just talking about Israel here. If he really is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, then it’s got to be bigger than that. The world… The world that God made but which has gone bad? The world that pursues satisfaction and meaning in anything but in him? The world that needs the cleansing fire of judgement to straighten it out?! That the Lamb of God might take away ‘the sins of the world’… OK. That’s just mind boggling!
But let’s just say (for argument’s sake) that Jesus is going to be a sacrifice, that he might not have his own sin to deal with. Well, I still can’t get my head around how he can get to the root of the problem and deal with sin for everyone… Surely, only God could do that?
Like I said, I’m still trying to come to grips with it all. But I’ve got a feeling this is big. Even though it’s not exactly what I expected.
So, yeah. I met Jesus the other day. He wasn’t what I was expecting. But he sure left an impression.