“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
Scripture is full of irony. Just a few weeks ago we heard Jesus proclaimed a King, though he was a baby. Today we hear him announced as a Lamb, though he is a grown man in the strength of his prime. To our way of thinking this is backward. A vulnerable baby is a lamb. A strong man can be king. But God is forever challenging our concepts of what makes for authority and power. God’s Kingdom and ways always go counter to the structures and means of this world.
At the entrance of his ministry, Jesus is called the Lamb of God. From the start we know that this then will characterize everything that he will do from hence forth. John’s audience knew well what this meant. Jesus was going to suffer on behalf of others that the sin of the world might be removed. They knew that it was the sacrificial lamb at temple upon which the responsibility of sin was laid.
To be followers of Jesus, to participate in his ministry, we too must go the way of the Lamb. We must take responsibility for sin. In our society we need to hear this as a call to take responsibility for our own sin. Too often we are ready to place blame on others. Children blame their parents. The parents cast stones at the schools. The Republicans cite the Democrats. The Democrats lay it on the Republicans. But no one says the problem is mine. If we are to see sin removed from our world, each of us must begin taking some responsibility for the things in our life that we can change.
But there are sins in the world for which those who suffer cannot take full responsibility. They cannot go it alone. There, we must enter as the sacrificial lamb and take on the responsibility with them. Where people are overwhelmed by the harvest of their own sin or the wounds received from those who have sinned against them, we must be willing to go to their side with self sacrificing service. Where people are being crushed by the sinful oppressive structures of this world, we must shoulder the weight of that oppression that they might rise to their full human dignity. In doing this we may well ourselves be lead as dumb lambs to the slaughter.
Always though we must know that the sin of the world is taken away not by worldly might and power but by going the sacrificial way of the Lamb. Taking responsibility for our own sins, the sins of others, and the sin of the world is a frightening specter. Yet the Baptist’s words bring us comfort. If we identify with Jesus as the Lamb, we too can be assured that the Spirit will descend and rest upon us. We too will be baptized with God’s own power.
|Second Sunday Is. 49: 3,5-6; I Cor. 1: 1-3; John 1: 20-34|
|Peace Connections: Making the connection between the Sunday Readings and issues of peace and justice.© copyright 1995, by Thomas L. Garlitz. “Not for profit” permission to reprint granted|