The Lamb of God

The Season of Christmas is over and our Readings now turn toward the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. The child has grown, become a man and spent some time in the desert fasting, praying and being tempted. Before Jesus began his ministry, he was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist.

The Gospel According to John

John testifies that Jesus is the Son of God in the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (John 1:29-34). As Jesus came toward him, he announced “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” He didn’t say, “Behold, the Messiah.” He didn’t say, “Behold, the Son of God.” He said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

The Lamb of God

Lambs are baby sheep and important to a shepherded people. We think of sheep most of all when Jesus says that he is the shepherd and the sheep hear his voice and follow him. I believe, however, that in this text John refers to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, like the lamb whose blood was placed on the doorposts of all the children of Israel. The lamb became the sacrifice which freed them all. This was something the prophet Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 53:6-7) when he portrayed the Messiah as an innocent lamb slain for the sins of others. This is the Messiah who comes to us as a sacrificial lamb and, as John says, “who takes away the sin of the world.”

Taking the Message Home

Through Jesus’ love and God’s saving grace we are forgiven. Jesus didn’t come to judge, he came to love and teach about love, and he came to heal. In this healing, we realize that we are responsible to and for each other. It is up to us to respond to the needs of others, to offer support when others have given up, to be with them and to care for them. It is up to us to be the hands, feet, eyes and arms of Jesus. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away everything that stands between us and the love of a loving God, a Father who has given us Jesus to show us the way to love.