From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Six, Day Three
Most of us picture lambs as downy white animals frolicking in rolling green meadows or carried tenderly in the arms of their shepherd. Lambs represent gentleness, purity, and innocence. Though it is one of the most tender images of Christ in the New Testament, the phrase "Lamb of God" would have conjured far more disturbing pictures to those who heard John the Baptist hail Jesus with these words. Hadn't many of them, at one time or another, carried one of their own lambs to the altar to be slaughtered as a sacrifice for their sins, a lamb that they had fed and bathed, the best animal in their small flock? Hadn't the bloody sacrifice of an innocent animal provided a vivid image of the consequences of transgressing the Mosaic law? Surely, John must have shocked his listeners by applying the phrase "Lamb of God" to a living man.
When we pray to Jesus as the Lamb of God, we are praying to the One who voluntarily laid down his life to take in his own body the punishment for our sins and for the sins of the entire world.
John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
Praying the Name
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." Genesis 22:6 - 8
Reflect On: Genesis 22:6 - 13.
Praise God: For his mercy.
Offer Thanks: That God himself has provided the sacrifice that makes us whole.
Confess: Your need for a Savior.
Ask God: To open your eyes to what his Son has done for you.
A story is told of a young boy whose sister was suffering from a rare disease. Her only chance of recovery was to receive a blood transfusion from someone who had recovered from the disease. Her five-year-old brother was the perfect candidate. When the doctor explained the situation to the boy and asked him if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister, the boy hesitated for a moment, took a deep breath, and then said yes. During the transfusion, while lying in bed next to his sister, the boy smiled as he saw the color returning to her cheeks. Then, unaccountably, his face paled and he asked in a trembling voice, "Will I start dying right away?"
The story makes you want to smile and cry at the same time because you realize the boy's generosity and his mistake. He had been willing to give his last drop of blood if that meant his sister would live. His story reminds me of another story and another boy, one who nearly did give up his life. You probably remember it. It's the story of Abraham and Isaac and how the father was going to sacrifice the son. Do you remember the scene on Mount Moriah when Abraham was gathering wood for the burnt offering? Isaac turned to him and asked:
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
"The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
With poignant words, Abraham replied, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And God did. At the last second, when the father was about to plunge the knife into his son, the angel of the Lord told Abraham to lay down his knife and spare the boy. Then Abraham noticed a ram that had been caught in the thicket and offered him in his son's place. God had provided, just as Abraham had unwittingly predicted he would.
But God's provision extends beyond that instant, beyond that father and that son. According to tradition, the temple in Jerusalem was built on Mount Moriah, where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son. And the temple was only a short walk from where Jesus, the only Son of the Father, was sacrificed for our sins.
The next time you are tempted to wallow in guilt over some sin or failing, remember that the Father has paid an impossibly high price to redeem you. Don't make the mistake of acting as if it wasn't enough. Instead, ask God's forgiveness and then turn your thoughts to the Lamb that he has provided. Praise Christ and thank him for being willing to spend his last drop of blood to save you.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.