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Faith Moment
December 28, 2015
The Slain Lamb Stands

Ralph Wood, professor of theology and literature at Baylor University, once asked a group of seminary students to compare two individuals:  the modern collegian who insists that sin and the fall of humanity are fallacies invented by the superstitious, and a primitive young man in a remote village whom you find in the woods sacrificing a chicken on a makeshift altar.  "Which man is farther from the truth?" he asked.  The students struggled with the question but eventually agreed that the pagan boy understood something the other did not.  There is a need in our lives for atonement.  

We have within us a basic sense of our sinful condition.  As Malcolm Muggeridge regularly insisted, the depravity of humankind is at once the most unpopular of the Christian doctrines and yet the most empirically verifiable.  We are often reminded that we are not quite what we were intended to be.  Something went wrong, but we find ourselves incapable of the kind of restoration we need.

For generations, the Israelites labored to follow laws that were meant to atone for their sin and restore them to the presence of God: "And you shall provide a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to the LORD daily; morning by morning you shall provide it" (Ezekiel 46:13). The language of sacrifice and offering was found throughout Near Eastern culture.  But Israel's sacrifices were unlike those offered to pagan gods.  The prophets insisted that what God was commanding was something far more than the empty performance of sacrifice.  God wanted sacrifices offered with hearts of worship.  The God of Israel wanted to be near his chosen people, and God made them a way, through the blood of a lamb.

When Scripture speaks of Christ as the Lamb of God, it is easy to think of it as something like a symbolic code:  The lamb is Christ.  The lion is Christ.  But Oxford scholar John Lennox reminds us that these passages tell us not only who it is, but what it is.  It is Christ as the lamb, the spotless lamb whose blood my life requires. 

When the apostle John describes his vision of heaven in the book of Revelation, the Lamb is found in the center of a singing multitude: "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders" (Revelation 5:6).  Thoughtfully Lennox asks: "But how can a slain lamb stand?" The Lamb who bore my sins, forever bears the scars of my atonement, even as he stands. 

As the Lamb, Christ has filled a need we cannot.  He is the Lamb who was slain and yet stands so that we can stand in the presence of God.  Jesus is The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Cornerstone, the Shepherd, the Advocate who overcomes.  The Slain Lamb stands!

With love,
Mike

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