Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Shepherd-Lamb

The Scriptures give us a lot of names for Jesus, and for God, based on His character and heart and relationship with us. There's something in these names that is essential for us to understand if we want to know Him better. And yet, for all of this, there are a lot of things that we still don't understand about Him. And a lot of things that are easier to just oversimplify, easier to look past. Sometimes, we're prone to emphasize one thing over another. Because, well, it's just complicated.

One of these things is the nature of Jesus as fully-God, fully-man. He is Spirit in flesh. He is Yahweh, the son of the carpenter. We don't understand how this really works, what it means, how we're supposed to conceptualize it, and what ends up happening is that we emphasize either His deity or His humanity (often, His deity) and lose sight of the other (often, His humanity). It's this last bit that is most problematic. There's a reason Jesus came in the flesh for us. Yet, we get so caught up on how amazingly well He was human that we dismiss it altogether and simply say, well, yeah, but He was God.

And then, there's this idea in Revelation....

It draws on some other images that help us to fill this out a little bit. First, we know that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He is the one whose voice we know and trust. He will lead us beside still waters and take us to good pastures to feed. He is the one who keeps us reined in, who protects us from predators, who watches over us as His own. He talks about leaving the 99 to find the one sheep that has gone astray. He reminds us over and over again that He is our shepherd.

We know also that Jesus is our Lamb. He is our sacrificial offering. He is our atonement. He was led to slaughter for our sins, and the curtain in the Temple was torn in two.

It's something we read right past because we're used to the Old Testament laws of animal sacrifice. As humans, we bring livestock and offer it to God. Man and lamb are so distinctly two things that we never put them together.

But maybe we should.

Because the Scriptures tell us that we all, like sheep, have gone astray. The Scriptures tell us that we are the sheep of His pasture. Or the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. The point is - we are sheep. We know this. We refer to ourselves this way when we talk about the church, at least when we talk about ministry and how we lead "the flock." Flock, of course, of sheep.

So let's go back, then, to the Lamb. Who is our sacrifice, yes, but what is a lamb? It is a sheep. It is a sheep that is new to the flock, but still a full-fledged part of it. It is the new life within the old fold.

And here we have it. Our Shepherd is a sheep just like us. (Revelation 7 says we will be shepherded by the Lamb - that's where I'm drawing all this thinking from.) He's the new life in the old fold. He came into the confined space where we live to show us, form the inside out, where all the best grazing is. Where the streams are. Where the pastures are. He leads us beside us, and we know His voice...and it sounds like ours.

This is Jesus. Our shepherd-Lamb. 

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