We are in the middle of the Lenten season. Lent– in the traditional Church Calendar begins with Ash Wednesday – being reminded with the ashes of our mortality. Genesis 3:19 “for dust you are and to dust you will return”…and continues through 40 days before Easter. It is a season of reflecting, recalibrating, returning - accompanying Jesus to the cross on Good Friday then, as Holy Week concludes, celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
As we consider this Easter story, a lamb appears in God’s narrative toward the beginning, throughout and is present at the conclusion. The lamb in Exodus 12:1-13 was the sacrificial Passover lamb. One lamb was sacrificed for one family. If your family was small you might share a lamb with another small family. It was a real live lamb that was slaughtered.
The blood of the slain lamb was pasted on the doorposts of the dwelling of that family as instructed by the Lord. “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Thus the family was protected, saved from destruction by the blood of their slain lamb – a symbolic, but very real act.
Who would have thought that a lamb could rescue the souls of men?
In Isaiah 53 the narrative continues as another “like a slain lamb” is mentioned, “he was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open His mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent…for he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.” - this lamb, a human, being sacrificed for the sins of humans.
In the Gospel of John 1:29, from John the Baptist’s portion of the narrative -John looks up from his baptizing in the river and says “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” One lamb is sacrificed lamb for one family; the Lamb of God is sacrificed for the whole world – Jesus.
The death of Christ was foreshadowed in the Passover Feast Israel celebrated the night an unblemished, sacrificed lamb’s blood was pasted on top of the doorposts of each home as a protection. Isaiah connects the Passover lamb with the coming Messiah, the Lamb of God.
The final story of The Lamb, threaded throughout God’s story, ends in great triumph.
In the Revelation 5:11-12 “I heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands and then thousands times ten thousands…they encircled the throne in loud voices they sang: Worthy is the lamb, who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.”
Who would have thought that a lamb could rescue the souls of men? It is true – the lamb in God’s story sacrificed Himself for my sin and yours. He IS THE wonderful, merciful Savior we honor and remember and celebrate this Holy Week before Easter as the music group Selah sings.
As we wait for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead consider, as you continue your Lenten practice using these days before Easter Sunday to:
Reflect– honestly evaluate. This is a time to seriously reflect on the state of my spiritual life, to inventory the strategies of my flesh to protect myself, and to ask the hard question of myself - in what ways am I making my life work apart from God? Where are my soul blind spots? What have I neglected noticing in the midst of the busyness of fast lane living?
Psalm 51:6 “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”
Recalibrate – slow down; practice silence -pausing for detox from all distractions for a portion of each day.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”
Return – to what we know, to quiet spaces with our shepherd and Lord - Joel 2:12 “…even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
I Peter 2: 25 “For your were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
Remember – who He is
Our anchor Hebrews 6:19-20 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”
Our High Priest–Hebrews 7:24-25 “…but because Jesus lives forever he has a permanent priesthood.Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them."Remember the setting writing to a Jewish audience… can you imagine the impact on the readers?
During Lent as we accompany Him on His journey to the cross….He is interceding for us.
As we reflect on the state of our souls He forgives and welcomes us back. He desires to make us whole.
As we recalibrate and slow down He is waiting with open arms…come.
And as we return to Him and rest… He satisfies our souls…our great High Priest – Jesus.