Behold the Lamb

Manger in the Shadow of the Cross
Manger in the Shadow of the Cross

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NASB)

I took this photo during a “box scene” rehearsal in 2012. The Nativity and the Cross never appear together during Carols, but I think this fully captures the story of The Hope of Christmas. The simplicity of that stable on that quiet night to the horror of that cross on a terrible Friday in the most public of venues.

In Genesis 3:15 (NIV): God condemns the serpent (Satan) and, while banishing Adam and Eve from paradise due to their bad decision-making, lays the groundwork for hope: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. “Her offspring” – Jesus, the Lamb of God.

In the Old Testament, the sacrifices required a “perfect” lamb as the Passover lamb. Exodus 12:5 sets that out for the sons of Israel: Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.  Yet it was obvious if you follow the patterns of sin / repentance / sin / repentance – that the sacrificing of a lamb, though representative, was not a final path to redemption.

Yet when, as noted in an earlier post, when Abraham told Issac (Genesis 22:8 NASB) that God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son, he knew that God already knew what was required for our redemption.

When they hung Jesus on that cross instead of you or me, He was still perfect in every way – no blemish, no disobedience, no avoidance – fully God though fully man – and the perfect Lamb. At the cross that terrible day, consider what happened (Matthew 27:50-54, NASB): And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  And indeed He is.

Behold the Lamb. I believe.

Still Choosing Joy

Cille

 

Emmanuel

Baby in the Manger
Baby in the Manger

 

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23 KJV)

During The Hope of Christmas, we are doing selections from The Symphony of Christmas. The opening scene reminds us that in Genesis 22:8 (NASB), Abraham told Issac as he prepared his only son for sacrifice in obedience to God that God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.

The following scenes capture the realization of the prophecy surrounding the birth of Jesus. The Angel appears to Mary and then to Joseph and then the couple begins their journey to Bethlehem. The Jews had waited for this for years – yet, they missed it.  You see they sought an earthly king and not a Heavenly One. They (we) failed to get that God’s plan for them was not their (our) plans for themselves (ourselves).

“O come, O come Emmanuel. And ransom captive Israel that mourns in lowly exile here. Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel. Shall come to thee, O Israel.”  The basis of Israel’s plea is the promise found in Isaiah 7:14 (KJV): Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. The promise is clear – a baby, conceived by a virgin, the Son of God. I just have never understood how they missed that point. I am certain there are a lot of things I don’t understand!

So often we see in a situation what we want to see. God sees clearly. He knew the desires of the hearts of the Jews in the days of Jesus’ birth as He knows the desires of our hearts. Truly, we are not worthy to bow down at that manager and worship any more than those kings and shepherds were all those years ago. Yet because God provided the Lamb, we are redeemed!

The Old Testament is rich with the prophecy of Jesus’ coming as “Emmanuel, God with us”. The little book of Micah so specifically tells this in chapter 5:2-4: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. 

Micah is talking about us – the Gentiles – the “rest of the brothers!” My favorite Christmas verse is the first part of verse 5: And he will be our peace.  Jesus was and is our peace.

I am not one of those who is constantly looking for end-times’ signs. I (right, wrong, indifferent) don’t get hung up in the calendar. I am fully certain, though, Jesus will return as He promised. Our responsibility is to be personally ready and to be obedient to His Great Commission to tell others.

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” God is with us. I believe.

Still Choosing Joy

Cille