Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This week's scriptures are Isaiah 49: 1-7 and John 1: 29-42.

Our Bible study group is growing! And with that growth comes a lot of discussion that keeps me on my toes. I really enjoyed our discussion last night and am grateful for the ways the group makes me think about our scriptures.

One of the things that came up in the John passage is the reference John makes to Jesus as the "Lamb of God." Most of us, if we think about that phrase, think about it in terms of the lamb as a sacrifice. The pure lamb used during the Passover and other major high holy days. The image from Revelation of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" may come to us if we're familiar with those scriptures. We also have the picture in our minds of a lamb as a mild, meek creature.

But there is another use of the lamb as a symbol that would have been know to John the Baptist and to the readers of John's gospel. That is the image of the Lamb as "God's Champion." Particularly the symbol of a 'horned lamb' is used in this way; and that symbol is associated, for example, with Judas Macabbeus who led the Jewish people in recapturing the Temple from the Syrian occupation.

Now we know that the writer of John's gospel like words and phrases whose double meanings made his readers think. Perhaps this is one of them. The Lamb, who is God's Champion, who will take away the sins of the world, is also the Lamb who fits the description of a servant in Paul's passage in Phillipians (this 'servant' image first shows up in our Isaiah passage). "He was in the form of God; yet he laid no claim to equality with God, but made hiimself nothing, assuming the form of a slave...he humbled himself, and was obedient, even to the point of death, death on a cross." (Phillipians 2: 6-8). And this was the attitude that Paul pointed to when he said one verse earlier "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ."

What if God's way of conquering sin is to become vulnerable in Jesus. and what if following Jesus, being His body, means that you and I can only be "God's Champion" by taking on a servanthood that makes us vulnerable-even as He was vulnerable? And what does it mean for us to be vulnerable in our world today? What kind of vulnerablity are we called to?

These are some of the questions that our scriptures for this week raise. Where do you come out on them? Join us on Sunday, come to the Bible study, or just email me and let me know what you think. You and I are called to wrestle with these questions together. I'd love to know where you wind up in your contemplation.

Hope to see you Sunday.

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