A few weeks ago we had Preschool Sunday. During the devotion for the kids, I showed them a little stuffed lamb that belongs to one of my kids. We think of lambs as being real cute and cuddly. Our school has some on display since we’re the Redeemer Rams. LWML even has a lavender lamb – in both color and scent – that I got when they came to talk to soon-to-be seminary graduates during my last year at Fort Wayne. Lambs are cute and cuddly.
But are they really? They grow up into sheep, and farm animals aren’t all we make them out to be. Grampa’s farm didn’t have sheep, but there were plenty of cows, so I know they can be dirty. I think I remember seeing sheep sheared once in a school field trip, maybe in preschool, but those sheep weren’t cuddly. They were ornery, and probably not too smart.
All through Lent, and every Sunday, we call Jesus “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” Do you often think of a cute and cuddly lamb when you say that? If you do, I’m sorry, but that’s not what He’s like. This Lamb is not cute and cuddly. He’s battered, beaten, and bloody. He’s wearing a crown of thorns, is stripped naked, and is writhing in pain. Nails are ripping open His hands and feet, and a spear will pierce through His heart once He’s dead. There’s nothing cute or cuddly about any of that!
But if you know anything about lambs and the Old Testament, you’re not surprised The Lamb of God is definitely not cute and cuddly. Sheep were sacrificed every day at the Temple as offerings to show they needed access to God’s favor and His acceptance. On Passover, they were killed in remembrance of those lambs killed that night long ago, when they were roasted on a spit and their blood was painted on the door frames and their flesh was eaten . . . and the angel of death passed over them and they left Egypt’s slavery to go to the promised land of freedom.
This is Passover. The angel of death is coming. Will he pass over you? He’s not coming for your body; he’s coming for your soul. Will he be able to take it? Are you protected? You can’t protect yourself. You can’t defend yourself from him. He’s too strong for you. Your sins leave you weak and vulnerable. They leave you already dead in sin. All humanity is easy pickings for him. He comes for all and he can easily get all.
How can you escape him? The Lamb of God provides escape. He was roasted in the fires of hell as He hung upon The Cross. His Blood now marks our door through Holy Baptism. We eat His Body and drink His Blood at His Altar. Eternal death passes over us. For this Lamb is sacrificed for us. He bore in His Body all our sins. He was punished for every sin that has ever been committed or ever will be committed. He suffered hell for us on His Cross so we would enter paradise instead. He died and we will live again.
God’s little Lamb hung upon The Cross. There He was nowhere near cute and cuddly. But the result of His Death are far better for us than any cute or cuddly possession can ever be. Stuffed lambs can only give you joy for a little while, but this Lamb’s Death gives you everlasting joys. Our kids can only be Redeemer Rams for a few years, but this Lamb’s saving work lasts forever. For He is not a dead sheep, but The Lamb of God Who sits upon the throne of God, living and reigning unto all eternity. Good Friday gives way to Easter.