"OUR EVER-PRESENT LAMB OF GOD"
Text - JOHN 1:29-31 and THE 23rd PSALM
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS - OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold!
The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!"
John and Andrew knew – as David had before them – that without a conscientious shepherd to lead them, Judean sheep would die of starvation or thirst or wander into eminent danger.
I have an article in my files I’ve shared in sermons and BIBLE studies for years about a group of Basque shepherds who left their flocks in the field as they went into town for supper. A sudden storm, a bolt of lightning, and a loud clap of thunder caused a panicky ram to run and 3,000 sheep followed that ram off the edge of a cliff to their death. I’ve seen less fatal but equally erratic behavior myself,
As if Israel’s barren terrain and the sheep's helpless nature aren't enough of a handicap, their anatomy adds to their problems.
While cattle can graze the same pasture for long periods of time, sheep have such narrow lips that they eat the grass right down to the soil and their cloven hoofs tear up that soil and the roots just beneath it. When it comes to water, sheep will only drink it if the water is truly clear and perfectly still.
In the animal kingdom, most of the species are wild - living by the basic instincts and abilities The Creator has given them. We've domesticated some like dogs, cats, birds, horses - but, even there, the key is we have domesticated them - they were wild – basically self-sufficient and we made them pets or beasts of burden.
Sheep – domesticated or not - would not survive without a conscientious shepherd.
The two future disciples knew how blessed are we human beings – more dependent than all other creatures on a Divine Shepherd to nurture and guide us – to truly have our Divine Shepherd.
The Psalmist David – years before God came among us as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ – knew that Divine Shepherd very well. Those nights – laying under the stars and writing his psalms - he must have thought here I am taking care of these helpless sheep who couldn't make it without their human shepherd - but where would I be without my own Divine Shepherd. Thank God, The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. The pastures of food which God has blessed us human beings with come in such abundance that, having been well fed, we are able to find rest and solitude as we figuratively lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters - the clean, clear, unpolluted, still waters even the most finicky sheep would treasure. Our Creator cares for our physical needs in such abundance that even the most selfish hoarding cannot diminish the generosity of divine gifts.
My Divine Shepherd leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. In THE HOLY BIBLE, righteousness - whether referring to God Himself or to human beings or to other animals or even inanimate objects - always means living up to the definition God has given to describe Himself, or us, or something else. We are only righteousness when we live up to the definition of what God created us to be. To make us righteous in God’s sight, He leads using the paths of righteousness
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for God is with me; His rod and staff comfort me.
For the Holy Land sheep following shepherds through narrow valleys surrounded by mounts, there are numerous shadowy areas where predatory animals and human thieves can hide to snatch a wandering lamb and abandoned cisterns into which careless lambs tumble - their valley of the shadow of death.
Terrorists who consider murder to be virtuous behavior - the prevalence today of the most erratic and dangerous weather patterns of our lifetime - new threats from new diseases and some ancient ones resurfacing in parts of our world - our modern world lives in the valley of the shadow of death - and in the end we will all die - but our Divine Shepherd is with us.
And with our Divine Shepherd and our human flock there is more – far more. God – our Divine Shepherd – came among us to restore our souls and save us. Created in the Image of God for an eternal relationship of love and trust with God, we humans have a dimension to our lives that no other animals have or can even comprehend having.
Human sinners that we are, we tarnish that Image and alienate ourselves from the relationship God has so loving established with us- but God restores our souls and renews His relationship with us.
How great is God’s love for us? God not loves and blesses us through the entirety of our lives as our Divine Shepherd, but God comes among us as one of the flock- as The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!". We can scientifically gauge the difference between a human being and a sheep. The difference between God and us is so great that we can not even begin to describe or gauge the difference – but God loves us so much He came among us as the vulnerable flesh and blood member of the human flock - the Lamb of God to redeem us and to restore that Relationship God created us to have and we and our sins destroyed.
Our Divine Shepherd Who came as The vulnerable flesh and blood Lamb of Goddid not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross. (PHILIPPIANS 2:6b—8)
God preparest a table before us in the presence of our enemies.
In the presence of temptations, we all too easily succumb to - in the presence of those sins which alienate and separate us from God - in the presence of guilt and death - we come to the altar table as we will next Sunday to commune with Jesus in the meal The Lamb of God has prepared for us with His Own Body and Blood.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life ..." - because our Creator loves us that much.
"And I shall dwell in the house of The Lord forever” because our Creator has created us for that eternal relationship and our Savior suffered and died on the cross and rose from the dead to spend eternity with us.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold!
The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!" Behold Jesus!
The Son of God throughout all eternity and The Son of Man born of the virgin Mary – God becoming one of us to truly relate to us, to perfectly communicate His Word and His Will to us, and to give His Perfect Life for us on the cross to lead us out of death itself.
"Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!"
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world !
3rd Sunday After The Epiphany Of Our Lord January 27, 2019 -week late due to snow level 4
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio