Missing Members?

Imagine you woke up one morning to find an arm missing, or a hand, or a leg, or some other part of your body. Even if you got past the initial shock and tried to function normally, how could you? If your feet went missing, how would you move about? If your hands went missing, imagine trying to clothe yourself or eat. If you woke up without eyes or ears—well, what would keep you from falling into despair? We could not function at one hundred percent at the very least.

The church of Christ is the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12, 27). It is literally the physical embodiment of Jesus Christ on earth at present, left here to fulfill His work of saving souls. When Christians are gathered together in one place at one time, we are worshiping our Lord, building up one another in faith, learning His will, and honoring His name by proclaiming His death in the Lord’s Supper (Communion) (1 Cor. 11:26).

Just as the physical body is severely impaired by the absence of its members, so the Body of Christ is severely impaired by the absence of its members.

Yes, there are times and good reasons why we MUST be absent from worship services, but they are very few. Health isn’t always the best one, for sometimes people will leave their homes to go shopping, visit loved ones, attend birthday parties and events, etc., feeling poorly but when it comes time to attend church services, will use that as an excuse to skip out. We may fool people with those antics, but we will not fool God.

Work is another reason often used. Yes, we have to work to make a living; it is required of believers especially heads of households (1 Tim. 5:8), but why should God receive less because we receive more? Can we not make arrangements with employers? Can we not see that it is God who gave us the job and who can take it away?

Habitual, willful, absenteeism from worship services is a sin, pure and simple (James 4:17; Hebrews 10:25ff). It requires repentance. Repentance means we stop missing services for “reasons” that are in actuality lousy excuses.

If there is a “heart” problem causing the absenteeism, remember Jesus’ agony on the cross for our sake. If there is a “blame” problem (you are mad at someone who attends), remember Jesus forgave His enemies while on that cross. If there is a “sin” problem, remember that Jesus removed and will remove its guilt and stain if we will bring it to Him.

In short, let’s get over it brothers and sisters! A body missing members is not going to function well and get the job done. A Body of Christ missing members will not either. Time is growing short. The Body of Christ needs its full strength to persevere in this evil age.

Do not be a missing member, but be, or remain, a living, active, vibrant, fully functioning member of the Body of Christ in the world at large as well as in every worship service of the Lord’s Church.  The Lord Jesus Christ deserves no less.

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Unless You Become as Little Children

The Lord Jesus made it abundantly clear that there are qualifiers for anyone to “inherit the kingdom of God.”  In one instance, He declared that those who wish to do so must be “converted” and “become as little children” (Matt. 18:3).  There are some kinds of  behaviors often associated with children, generally, which are not part of that injunction: childishness, selfishness, self-centeredness, naivete, gullibility, to name a few.  However there are good aspects of becoming as children which are worth more than a glance.

Children can be very trusting. This is evidenced by how they respond when they are very little at times their parents play with them.  Even when tossed up in the air a short distance, they giggle and laugh as they descend into a parent’s waiting, hands.  They know those hands will be there every time.  Sadly, that innocent trust can be misplaced when they are lured by offers of candy into the grasp of strangers who have evil intent.  Yet I am positive this kind of trust is a quality of children that Jesus expects of us.  We have to have complete, total, trust in Him and His love for us.  We must, like the nobleman said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) during times of great stress and hardship when we are tempted to doubt God’s love.

Children are color-blind by nature. Very small children do not see skin color or take account of race.  That does not factor into any of their dealings with other children, that is, when or until they have learned differences from older people who often seek to infuse their racial prejudices into them.  God wants us to be like them in that way.  Skin color has no bearing on anything in God’s scheme of redemption!  From “one blood” God made the human race (Acts 17:26).  As my father told me about the Japanese prisoners he met in the Philippines in WWII, “they are people just like us.”  We all bleed red no matter what color skin we have.  God made us all and loves us all equally.  In God’s plan of salvation, Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile,” (Gal. 3:28a).  God would have us all saved; He wants nobody to be lost (2 Peter 3:9).  So if we are to reach out to the lost people of the world and love one another, we must also be colorblind like little children. Racism has no place in the Christian system and it will surely keep us out of heaven.

Children can be content, happy, and optimistic in any situation.  Even children from broken homes and “dysfunctional families” have times of fulfillment and joy.  They make do with whatever they can find for toys.  I have seen photos of kids at school without nice clothes or shoes and they seem happy.  You toss them some candy and watch them smile.  They use whatever they have to entertain themselves, build things, imagine things, so they can laugh and enjoy life.  They find small ways to escape the worse aspects of their lives.  Jesus gives us true hope and an eternal home in the heavens “not made with hands” (2 Cor. 5:1).  He wants us to be happy, content, and optimistic about life and the future (Phil. 3:13-14).  He wants us, like children and the apostle Paul, to be content in whatever place we find ourselves in life (Phil. 4:11).  “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).  We must learn this, or we shall become covetous, inheriting all its attendant ills.

Little children can teach us a lot about managing life, but Jesus says to be like them in good ways is paramount to salvation.

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Do You Really Think…

An all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present, entirely-benevolent God[1] would take all the time, effort, and trouble to create a world, fill it with people to whom He imparted the essence of life thereby creating immortal souls within them, only to leave it on its own, bereft of any direct or indirect contact with Himself as He stood idly by while it devolved slowly and inevitably into abject chaos, ruin, and destruction?[2]

Or that, having made observable contact over hundreds of years involving numerous personalities and nations, He would clumsily or haphazardly neglect to leave enough reliable and vital information about His activities in earth affairs unrecorded for posterity, knowing that His intervention, and the required evidence of it, was absolutely essential in His eternal plan to reunite Himself with this wayward creation?[3]

Or that He would eventually appear on earth as a human being to model His righteousness and fulfill the demands of His lawful nature and offer Himself as a vicarious, atoning, sacrifice for the issues (sins) that preclude intimate fellowship with Him, and then somehow fail to tell us why and how that was to be accomplished so we might discern truth from fable?[4]

Or that He would permit some hopelessly inferior person, group of people, angel or any other being, interfere with His plan of human salvation, redemption, and glorification to the extent that He would allow them to corrupt, distort, or obliterate the record of that work?[5]

Or that, having allowed that to happen, He would, willingly or otherwise, fail to convey a warning of impending judgment for our sinfulness but still judge us by the corrupted or obliterated criteria?[6]

Or that He would fail to give us the terms by which we could receive His pardon through a record that is so confusing and cryptic that He would leave it to an individual’s own imagination and interpretation as their own personal understanding and application of it directed them?[7]

Or that He would permit other competing plans (religions) to serve just as efficacious as the singular plan He devised in eternity; one that He successfully implemented requiring His personal appearance in the flesh, leading to His brutalization, degradation, and the shameful spectacle of the cross, to the extent that this shedding of His own blood for sin was no better sacrifice for sin than any other humanly engineered, random, moral code and its inherent ritualism?[8]

Or that, having accomplished His purpose of redemption in the world, He would, as time and culture dictated, permit and accept human alterations in the definition of sin – sins for which He bled and died to remove the guilt thereof, and to eradicate their dominating influence, only to see them being revised to gain human approval as acts of decency and righteousness?[9]

Or that He would postpone His kingdom (rule of the earth) of which prophecy foretold in abundant and explicit detail, simply because those to whom He went did not immediately accept it at the time (forcing Him to withdraw the offer), an event which He, despite being omniscient deity, failed to foresee occurring?[10]

Or that He would allow Himself to be beaten nearly to death and ultimately die on a Roman cross, taking upon Himself the just penalty due all of us, not because He loves us and wants to empower us so that we may share glory in eternity with Him, but because He enjoys brutality or it absolves Him of having to “save to the uttermost those who come to God through in Him.”[11]

Or that, in dying in such cruel fashion for our sins, He would gladly permit us to continue in those sins unabated, unrepentant, and unashamed, ignoring the shameful mockery we would be making of His noble sacrifice?[12]

Do you really think and believe any of these things?  I pray you do not.  If you do, however, for your soul’s sake, please study the New Testament with an open mind and heart.  The affirmation and confirmation of all that is God’s Own Truth lies waiting there to save you and bless you with eternal life.[13]

[1] Omni4 (B. Burns)

[2] Ephesians 1:3-12, 17-21; 2:8-10; 3:20-21

[3] Deuteronomy 29:10-29; Isaiah 55:1

[4] John 20:30; 21:24-25

[5] John 17:17-19

[6] John 12:48-50

[7] Romans 10:17; John 8:24; Matthew 10:32; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16

[8] John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-10

[9] Isaiah 5:20; Revelation 22:18-19

[10] Daniel 2:44; Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:5-6, 9

[11] Hebrews 7:25a

[12] Romans 6:1-6; 8:8-14

[13] John 6:63

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It Had to Happen

This was bound to come up.  At some point in time, some atheist had to suggest that God had taken sexual advantage of Mary (if not actual and literal rape).  They just cannot help themselves.

Eric Sprankle, a university professor (atheist and satanist) recently had posted this to twitter:  “The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays.”

When it was pointed out to him that Mary did give consent, he replied:  “The biblical god regularly punished disobedience. The power difference (deity vs mortal) and the potential for violence for saying “no” negates her “yes.” To put someone in this position is an unethical abuse of power at best and grossly predatory at worst.”

In other words, God put her in a position where she had no choice in the matter.

If you look at, say, Mark’s account, it may seem  that God told her what He was going to do and that’s that.  It might appear she had no choice, but only to the shallow thinkers and those who dismiss the facts having an axe to grind against God.  Luke’s account shows that clearly that Mary gave God her consent to do it:  “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word.”[1] His answer to that is basically, “Well, He is God and if you disobey Him, you could get into trouble and that was why she agreed to it, not because she wanted to.”

First of all, let’s clear up the rape charge.  There was no physical sexual activity involved on God’s part at all.  God is spirit, nor corporeal (John 4:24).  The Holy Spirit did not impregnate Mary in the way humans do; there was no human sperm or coupling involved at all.  This was accomplished entirely by miracle.  God was coming into the world in the flesh and this was the only way to do it.  Think it over.  If God can speak worlds into existence by words, non-physical things, then sending the eternal Word, Jesus, into the world via the womb by non-physical means, is nothing for Him.  So it could never be rape as we know it.  The best that could be charged is – God took advantage of her.  He most certainly did not.

It must be understood that God never chose Mary randomly.  He created her for this very thing.  Being omniscient and unshackled by time constraints, God could gaze down the streams, the channels, of time and select a woman He created whom He deemed worthy to deliver the Messiah, Jesus, into the world who would agree to it voluntarily.  He would not have chosen her if He knew she would NOT have consented to it.  That’s the perk of being God – you know the end from the beginning.   He, therefore, had her consent from the onset, before the event even happened.  Wrap your head around that thought for a moment.  Let it sink in.

Put simply, God chose Mary because He created her knowing she would be the one to agree to bear the Christ child, would love, nourish, and protect Him, never remotely considering abortion (even if they did that back then, which I doubt).  He placed the entire future and destiny of the human race in the womb of the one person He could trust to bring the Christ into the world without a hitch – Mary – and that is why she is blessed among women, highly favored.[5]

With God masterminding salvation, nothing and no one: angel, demon, Satan himself, would be able to derail His plan.[2]  And do not think Satan didn’t try!  The multitudinous times Satan tried to destroy God’s people Israel (think Cain murdering Abel, the apparent line of the “seed” promise which was actually the line of Seth[3]; the ungodly world threatening to corrupt the messianic line through Noah which God saved through a flood[4]; the Pharaoh who ordered the male children of Israel to be killed; the nations around Israel which tried repeatedly throughout history to wipe it out; the machinations of Haman who wanted the Jews destroyed, etc., etc.)  Yes, Satan even used King Herod to try to destroy the child in its infancy.  Satan wanted to destroy the Messiah.  He still does with blasphemous, unsubstantiated, attacks like this made against God.

Don’t be unsettled that Gabriel spoke of the event as a “done deal” with her.  He knew what her choice would be because he knew God well enough to know that He planned it this way, that she would consent.  She, like every other Israelite woman, greatly desired the prospect of being the one through whom the Messiah would come – which must have been why being barren was considered, by them, as a curse of God, worthy of reproach.[6]  You can tell by her beautiful song that she was humbled and blessed by having been chosen for this:

And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name,” Luke 1:46-49.

Hmmm.  Doesn’t sound like something a victim of unlawful sexual abuse would say, much less sing about, does it?

It is quite obvious that Satan is still in the “snake oil medicine” business.  He still tries to peddle his absurd, scurrilous, lies about the One Person whom God sent into the world to save us all from the place that he, Satan, and his God-envious ilk, are destined to inhabit for eternity, for saying things like this.  No surprise here.  This is just one more way for him to do it via the mental-gymnastic perversions of his unwitting, or perhaps witless, surrogates.

Doctorates and intellectualism may impress a lot of people, but they don’t impress God or those who know Him and the truth of His Word.

We know what Mary believed about the situation by what she did and said about her part in bringing our Lord Jesus Christ, the Victor over sin, death, and Satan, into the world.

All the rest of this nonsense is just another bite of sour grapes from a three-time-loser and his bitter band of not so merry men.

[1] Luke 1:38

[2] Colossians 2:13-15

[3] Genesis 3:15

[4] 1 Peter 3:18-20

[5] Luke 1:28

[6] Luke 1:24-25

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What Evil in the World Proves

An atheist’s favorite argument against God, or at least an all-benevolent God, is the existence of evil in the world.  Their line of reasoning is:  if God is good, why does He permit evil to exist and be pervasive in the world?  On the surface, it seems like a good way to approach the subject.  It looks like an air-tight argument, does it not?

If you think long enough, however, their reasoning actually PROVES that God is good and not evil at all.

Say what?!!

Imagine if Satan ruled the world.  I believe it is safe to say he would be doing much worse than he is now in tormenting us.  Can you imagine him allowing us to shake our fists at him, like many do God now?  Would he shower us with untold blessings in giving us his rain, his air, his food, in due season?[1]  Hardly.  He would, like all human dictators, tyrants, and godless despots, crack down hard.  He would punish the opposition, wipe them off the face of the earth.  He would rule by sheer terror and fear (imagine the world being like North Korea, or better, Cambodia, when Pol Pot was running things there!).  There would be no end to his destruction, misery and through it all, he would find his amusement.  His world, whatever Hell that would be like, would be a world full of unwilling worshipers, bowing before him, praising him, not out of love and adoration for him, but out of fear—pure, unbridled, all-consuming, fear.  Do this, or face immediate death, would be the character of his horrific reign.  That’s how evil operates.

Our God, while omnipotent, and who does bring temporal judgments on men and nations for sure, and an end to all this one day, is not like that[2].  If He were evil, He would not permit our constant rebellion to His will virtually unchallenged.  He would not permit His creation, inferior in every way, to treat Him with routine, nonchalant, limitless and shameless, contempt.

 Yet He does!

He offers us a choice and a chance to escape judgment to come[3].  That process cost Him the beating, brutality, and death of His Son, Jesus Christ.  The question should not be “How can a good God condemn anyone,” it should be “How can a good God save anyone?”  Only a good, loving, gracious, God would even want to try.

He came in the person of Jesus Christ to provide a way out, the only way out, of eternal condemnation.[4]  In the meantime, He continues to give us good things, but best of all that part of Himself that only HE can give us—love (AGAPE) which we can give to Him and others.  He gives these things despite the fact that the majority of people despise, disdain, discredit and otherwise blaspheme His name.  Would an evil dictator allow that?  Would Satan allow it?  No.  God does because He is love; because He hopes we will change our ways and our way of thinking that we might live eternally with Him in a perfect, sin-free, pain-free, death-free new world made especially for those of us who believe in Christ.  (I still marvel that God actually wants our company, yours and mine.  Imagine that).

Next time an agnostic or atheist friend brings out the “a good God wouldn’t…” argument, share this with them.  God loves them too, and would have them saved.

[1] Matthew 5:45

[2] 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff

[3] John 8:24

[4] John 14:6; Acts 4:12

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Why Should I Care?

I can imagine a conversation between God and Satan about us, the human race.  I dare not and will not speak for either of them, but I can imagine what might be said from viewpoints they could possibly entertain about us, from what I know about them in Scripture.  And from what I know about us in general.

I can imagine Satan asking God, “Why do you care for them?  What good are they?  After all You have done for them, all You have given them, even bled for them and died, what use is it?  Look at them!  They are selfish, self-centered, egotistical, plotting, perverted, degenerates, reprobates, whining, complaining, bitter, dissatisfied, evil-speaking, conscienceless, merciless, stubborn haters, unloving (except themselves), pathetic, fragile nobodies encased in dirt thinking themselves to be impervious little gods.  Why should You care???”  (In fact, in most cases, this is all too true of us collectively, is it not?)

I can imagine God simply replying, “You wouldn’t understand; they’re my children.”

There is something about the love one has (or should have) for one’s children that cannot be fathomed nor explained.  Sometimes it makes no sense at all.  There is much more than an emotional attachment, something more than bequeathing another person our history, our DNA, our genes, and our name in the human relationship we share with our children.  We are tempted to make excuses for them, to be supportive of them when they say and do truly stupid things; to be overly protective and dismiss their faults with often weak excuses.  The bond we share with them can be very strong.  We will fight for them and we will die for them.  The first thing a parent thinks when they hear a tornado siren is something like: “Oh Lord!  Where are my children; are they safe?!”

Perhaps the most overlooked passage in the entire Bible which depicts as well as anything God’s love for us, is when He said through Hosea, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.  Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.  ‘How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, Israel?  How can I make you like Admah?  How can I set you like Zeboiim?  My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred,’” (Hosea 11:7-8).

Jesus Christ echoed this sentiment as He looked upon the city of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37).  Jerusalem is a microcosm of God’s love for people everywhere.  He is unwilling that any should perish, but all should come to eternal life through repentance (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9).

Love this strong, of this sort, will cover a “multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8); in fact, tons of them, over and over and over again.  It is relentless.  It never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8a).

I remember a movie where a woman was bemoaning her love for a scoundrel, a real godless, evil, sinful, man, and she carried his child.  He had thrown her away after he learned she was pregnant.  She confessed she still loved him and asked a woman who had taken her in if her helpless, hopeless, love for him was not the worst sin of them all.  The lady with her gave the perfect answer:  “Love is never a sin; only the lack of it.”

There is no limit to love (Galatians 5:22-23).  It cannot be abused, wasted, overworked, or overdone.  It simply is and always will be, for God is eternal, and He is love (1 John 4:8).

The next time you or I need a reason to love the unlovable, to pursue those who try to hide their tracks in the wastes of sin, who do not want our love or God’s either, whose lives are so mutilated by sin and godless living, whose faces and bodies betray their total immersion in drugs, alcohol, and fornication, and you are asked or imagine why as if the devil were doing the asking, “Why should you care?” the answer is simple:  “Because God does.”  Because He loves me, because I love Him and He lives within me, so will I.”

Never quit loving people.  It is of God.  He offers no explanation nor apology for it.  Neither must we.

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The Lamb of God

In the book of Revelation, filled with its rich symbolism and figures, a number of creatures appear.  Most imposing is the great red dragon, Satan, and all the imagery that goes with it in our fertile imagination:  a gigantic, fearsome, awe-inspiring, thickly-scaled, fanged, clawed, fire-breathing, machine of destruction, that, according to myth, could incinerate and ravage whole villages.  Then there is the beast which arises out of the sea, an imposing multi-headed, ten-horned, creature whose heads bear blasphemous names.  Others may be seen, some typical, some threatening, but all giving the appearance of power, majesty, deserving of our respect and fear.

And then there is the Lamb.  I remember one of my instructors, Jim McGuiggan, state that, as we behold that awesome, wondrous, majestic throne of God, at the heart of it, resting serenely therein is what?  – “Ah, a little lamb!”   I am so grateful he pointed that out.  Isn’t that striking?  Many of the other creatures in the book are fearsome, frightening, threatening – things that we all had best tread quietly around.  But no, not the One who is truly the most formidable of all – Jesus, that little lamb.  Of all the amazing things God wants us to take in about Jesus His Son is that we are to view Him, to see Him, as we would behold a little lamb.  Not as a dragon, a beast, a monster, a mighty superhero-warrior of legend – not anything one would imagine for a Being who holds all authority and power, but as a little lamb.  There has to be a good reason why.

Vikings had their gods, Odin, Thor, Freya, Loki, who thrived on warfare, carnage, and battle.  One look at the ancient walls of Assyrian and Persian temples and we see their fanciful imaginations of semi-human beasts with wings and claws.  Even the things represented in Revelation can be a bit frightening, dangerous-looking, and scary.  And, yes, Jesus is called in that book the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).  However, when He becomes visible to the onlookers He is a mere lamb (Revelation 5:6).  Some of us need to get over the intoxication with super-hero icons, maxims, and the rest of it.  None of them, not one, compare to Christ Jesus.  You want a real hero?  Look no further.  Jesus is the real man, the real God-man.  All others are imposters, figments of overactive imaginations; at best, very pathetic imitations.

Many religions depict their gods, demigods, and human icons as beings wielding deadly power, giving the impression that, “you’d better do as I tell you, or else!”  They want you to view them as beings who will hurt you if they do not get their way.  They promote fear as a means to enforce subservience.  Observe the artwork in Hindu temples – elephants, multi-limbed beings wielding swords and the like.  According to the Quran, Islam is to hold sway over the earth by forcing others who disbelieve to accept Islam’s rule of Sharia Law or else pay tribute and stop promoting their own religion at the point of death.  One could claim that Christianity does the same with threats of damnation and hell-fire upon the world and unbelievers, but it is not by threat nor even the promise of eternal reward that puts teeth into the message of Christ – it is through sympathetic appeal for what Jesus, God in the flesh, did for us to make it possible to avoid hell and experience life with God.  It is through a gospel, a message of divine love toward us, that compels us to take note.  No other religion offers this.  They only peddle fear, making people slaves of fear.

God greatly desires our love and devotion.  He is deeply unhappy when sinners die lost.  Jim stated quite emphatically on another occasion, “God is not in the damning business!!”  He is dead-on.  “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23).  This messed up world is not what God wanted, but is the result of what humanity chose and chooses.  We are like His wayward, idle, bored, children waving loaded guns, wanting to play God, smug in our smartness, clownish in our cleverness, shameful in our sophistication.  Jesus came to help us out of the mess and lead us to something far better prepared for those who love Him.   And He did not arrive on the scene to accomplish it as a raging dragon, a murderous beast, or a blood-drenched Viking warrior.  He came as a lamb, of all things.

Upon seeing Jesus coming toward him John the baptizer announced to those around him and to the world: “Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).  He knew what Jesus came to do.  He understood His mission.

Consider some attributes of lambs from the Word of God that fit the description of Jesus Christ:

A lamb is benign. Nobody has nightmares about rabid, bloodthirsty, lambs running amuck.  In a fantasy “zombie apocalypse” nobody would run from a zombie lamb.  Lambs do not attack or harm people unlike their goat cousins.  This is the image of Christ.  He is not intent on hurting people.  He loves us.  He wants what is best for us now and later (John 10:10).  It is illogical and inconceivable that He would die for us in such a horrible, excruciatingly painful way only to laugh at our own pain while He inflicts it upon us.  Satan is the bully, not Jesus.  People who blaspheme Jesus as evil are Biblically ignorant, likely willfully so.  But He died for them too, whether they, or we, like it or not.  Jesus is sinless and harmless.

A lamb is vulnerable. A lamb being harmless means it is a target ripe for destruction and abuse.  They are a predator’s first target within a flock of sheep, no doubt because they are easily caught and make the tenderest of meals.  Nobody I know of goes “Lamb hunting.”  One would become a laughing-stock to brag to hunting buddies: “Hey, I went bow-hunting for lamb last week.  Killed a hundred of ‘em.”  Ah yes, big game hunter, are you?

All levity aside, Jesus was vulnerable.  Read the Gospels.  See how people used Him.  They had no shame sometimes, no sense of common courtesy.  He seldom got a moment’s peace from them.  To say humanity, all of us, have taken advantage of Him is wildly understating the case.  We still do it today, don’t we?  When we partake of His forgiveness, grace, patience, and love, expecting it, counting on Him to palliate our guilty consciences when we have willfully, sometimes, let Him down by being far less than what we should be, are we not using Him?  Are we not exploiting His vulnerability?  Perhaps.  Yet He forgives, lifts our load, carries our burdens, anyway.  He can handle whatever we throw at Him or put on Him.  And the beautiful part of this is – He wants us to.  Rather, He begs us to! (Matthew 11:28-30).

A lamb is tamable. In the story that the prophet Nathan presented to King David, he used the image of a lamb, a “ewe” (a young female) the family’s beloved pet, very dear to them (2 Samuel 12:1ff).    Neither sheep nor lambs are wild animals but docile, and hence, tamable.  Jesus had to learn like the rest of us in God’s planet-earth training class, that “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).  You heard that right.  Despite being who He was, eternally or otherwise, He learned obedience through suffering just like everyone else.  No exceptions.  He had to put up with this seriously dysfunctional world being hungry, cold, hot, injured, thirsty, deprived, sick, despondent, etc.  Those things taught Him (and can teach us if we let them) “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).  In so doing, getting through it with His integrity intact, He brought us and bought us, total victory.  He overcame the world (John 16:33) for His Father, for Himself, and for our sakes.   We just have to get through this thing with our mind, heart, and the righteousness He clothes us with, intact.  He showed us the way.  He shows us we can do it if we are obedient to the Father as He was, and follow Him.

A lamb is a sacrificial animal. The Law of Moses commanded a lamb be sacrificed morning and evening (Numbers 28:1-5).  They had to be blemish-free, that is, no deformities or imperfections; they must not be less than the very best of the flock.  God does not want nor appreciate “scraps” as worship, homage, to Him.  Let’s remember that.  He, through Christ Jesus, gave His very best to pay for our sins at Calvary.  He did not demand our children, as many pagan cults did; He did not send an angel or someone else.  He came Himself, in the flesh, to be our only atonement for sin.  God gave His best and desires our best.  That is what John the baptizer meant.  Jesus is the One who, by His vicarious death, takes away our sins.  All of them.  Paid in full by His body and His blood, for all time (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Peter 1:17-20; 2:24).  God wants us to partake of His fullness, bounty and glory so much that He did this for us.  Not with a rampaging dragon’s beastly roars or berserker battle-cries – just a stunning, heart-rending, appeal for us to accept His sacrifice, shape up, and be shaped up by Him, to share the joys of eternity with Him like He always wanted.  He calls us to be lambs also, just like He is (Matthew 10:16) so we will fit in when He comes back one day to take us home.

God always does things that don’t make sense to us.  His ways are higher than our ways.  When we think of power, majesty, what is fearsome, we think of beasts like dragons or beastly men, savage warriors.  God has none of that; needs none of it.  Oh yes, there will come a day when the Almighty will “judge the world in righteousness by the man He has ordained” Christ Jesus (Acts 17:31), and will come “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  But He came first as the Lamb of God, to fulfill the righteous requirements of His holiness in paying for our sins, and in so doing, to woo us, to show us the side of God that mankind has been missing from the beginning of time – to our own desperate loss and His eternal sorrow on account of it.  Only He could pull it off.

And He did – but as a lamb, Jehovah God’s precious Lamb.

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