Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Twofold Meaning of the Lamb

Image of the Lamb of God

After 37 years in ministry, it is a serendipity for me when I read something that is a new insight for me. I had such an insight when reading a book by Dan Stone and David Gregory called "The rest of the Gospel (When the partial Gospel has worn you out)" (2000, One Press, Corvallis, Oregon) The fifth chapter unfolds the picture of the Passover in Exodus 12 explaining that the purpose of the lamb's blood was to save the life of the first-born in each family when the blood was sprinkled over the doorposts of each Hebrew house. The authors went on to explain that the blood of the lamb was only part of the story. The meat of the lamb was also provided for the family to eat to provide nourishment in preparation for the beginning of the journey from slavery in Egypt out of bondage into freedom and the inheritance of a new homeland in Canaan. We have a tendency to think about the blood of the lamb, but forget to think about the meat of the lamb as God's provision.

Likewise, Jesus blood is provided to us for the forgiveness of sin, but his body is also provided to us for nourishment. Jesus is, for us, the bread of life. We are to remember that during our time of communion. It is common to think of the shed blood of Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But we only see half the picture if we fail to think of Jesus as the lamb who was slain and eaten in preparation of the journey out of slavery. This is the theme of Jesus sermon in John 6 which he preached to the crowds the day after he fed over 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes. The crowds liked it when Jesus miraculously provided food to the masses, but they were unimpressed when Jesus called himself the "bread of life." Jesus told the crowds, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51 NIV) At this point many in the crowds left him and many of his disciples also left him. They didn't want to hear this even though it was a major theme of his message concerning himself.

For the believer, Jesus is the Lamb of God, and his provision as the Lamb is twofold. The blood of the lamb is for salvation from the prospect of death, and his flesh is provided as our nourishment and sustenance in life. The experience of Jesus on the cross, and our connection to Jesus at the cross, is twofold as well. We thank God for the blood of Christ which cleanses us from sin, but we also need to see our connection to Jesus as the bread of life, who becomes the very life source of all who died with Jesus when he died on the cross. Romans 6 explains that connection to Christ at the cross where we died along with him and were raised up to a newness of life with him. Jesus is now our life itself. Our connection to him is permanent, and it is from him that we draw our nourishment. The message Jesus gave that was rejected by the masses in John 6, is the source for our lives in connection to Him. Jesus is the bread of life. our connection to Him is the very basis for our life as children of God. We need to see both the blood and the body of Christ when we look at the cross. See the forgiveness and the nourishment coming from our connection with Christ at the cross.


suziree said...

That is a new thought for me, too!

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