Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent 2014

Wednesday, December 3

 

Dr. Tom Austin said that Jesus came to show us what God is like.  John 1:14 tells us, "The Word became flesh; He came to dwell among us, and we saw His glory, such glory as befits the Father's only son, full of grace and truth."  John the Baptist immediately recognized this son, saying to the crowd gathered at Bethany, "Look, there is the Lamb of God; it is He who takes away the sin of the world" (1:29).   Matthew 3:16-17 records that after John baptized Jesus, "The heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and a voice was heard saying, 'This is my son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.'"  With these verses, we are told that God loves His son as does a human father, and by extension, is the loving father of us all. 


But at the same time, Jesus is named the "Lamb of God."  Lambs were by nature defenseless and in need of protection, and became symbolic of meekness and obedience.  Furthermore, their whiteness became symbolic of purity and innocence.  We also know that lambs were the most commonly used animals in Old Testament sacrifices.  Thus, God's plan to redeem sinful humankind, because He loves us, is the sacrifice of His sinless son!  Such love is a wonder and a mystery to me.


In his Songs of Innocence, the English poet, painter, printer, and mystic William Blake (1757-1827), known as an intensely religious man who had strange visions of angels in trees, the prophet Ezekiel in a field, and even God at his window, captures some of this mystery in "The Lamb" below:  


Little Lamb, who made thee?

Little Lamb, who made thee?

Gave thee life and bid thee feed,

By the stream and o'er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing wooly bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice!

Little Lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?


Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee!

He is calléd by thy name,

For He calls himself a Lamb:

He is meek and He is mild,

He became a little child:

I a child and Thou a lamb,

We are calléd by His name.

Little Lamb, God bless thee.

Little Lamb, God bless thee.

 

The first stanza asks, "Who made you?"  Psalm 23 comes to mind as Blake describes the lamb, its "clothing," the pasture, "tender voice," and the joy experienced just in seeing it and being there.  The question is repeated with a twist, "Do you know who made you?" 


The second stanza begins with another repetition, but of answers, not questions:  "I'll tell you!"  The "He" and "Thou" become Christ, and the "I," surely is Blake himself:  "I a child and Thou a lamb, we are calléd by His name."  Blake believes and I believe that through His son, Jesus Christ, God made it possible for us to bear the son's name:  Christians!   What a terrible price and what an awesome gift!  What a tremendous love and what a huge responsibility!  Please, God, let us try to be worthy of it!   

 

- Lynne Davis

 

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