Study: Reflect on a time when you sensed a gentle “tug” in your heart to act or speak. Did you heed the call or ignore it?
Pray: Gaze upon the Cross of Jesus Christ, and consider His sacrifice for you. Thank Him for his merciful love to die for your sins.
Serve: Is there a way that you can gently help another face their struggles?
I think of John the Baptist as one of those people who are exciting to listen to but just a little too intense. Being around the charismatic, passionate, tell-it-like-it-is prophet strikes me as standing by a bonfire: you want to draw near, but too close and you get scorched.
Yet this no nonsense desert preacher sees Jesus and directly states:
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
What a contrast! John is fiery, bold, direct, and edgy…and he proclaims that the one greater than he comes to be slaughtered – to take away our sins. Our salvation is not achieved through a fierce battle or assault on hell; it comes because God sent his Son to die in our place.
It’s this notion of slaughter that foreshadows the death and resurrection of Jesus. Lambs were sacrificed ritually in the ancient Jewish world. From the time of Passover when the Jews endured slavery in Egypt – where the blood of a lamb was sprinkled on the door posts as a sign of the angel of death – the image of a lamb powerfully expresses a path of salvation.
Furthermore, lambs are gentle, meek, and defenseless. For thousands of years they have been employed by humanity for food and wool. Lambs require protection, and without help they fall prey to predators.
So here we have John boldly state that the Christ who will save us comes:
- To die that our sins be taken away
- To be with us in a gentle, tender way
He comes for us. He will die on a cross in a horrible fashion – FOR US. Yet he will not force his message of love, forgiveness, and peace upon us – he will gently approach us and speak.
How is Jesus inviting us today? Do we sense in our hearts a “nudge” to live in a different way? Is there anything going on in our lives that gives us the opportunity to follow the Lamb of God?
He will tenderly call us. His invitation will be marked by forgiveness and love. Will we accept the one who comes to take away our sins? May John’s words inspire us to become His disciples.