Monday, April 14, 2014

Behold the Lamb!

When John the Baptist saw Jesus as he walked, he looked and exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John watched Jesus as he walked. For three more years Jesus walked. He walked north and he walked south. He walked into cities and walked out of them. Jesus walked away from some disingenuous people, but walked up to many more. 

One day, after about 3 years of healing the ill, giving sight to the blind, opening deaf ears, strengthening weak limbs, and raising the dead, Jesus walked up to the gates of Jerusalem. There a crowd awaited him. There, in the presence of those who should know better than anyone else, Jesus fulfilled yet another prophecy: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.-- Zech. 9:9

They should have known, those religious leaders of Israel. Those scholars of the Law and the Prophets. Those men of great importance. They should have seen. But they were blind, both by choice and by the god of this world. 

Just a few days later we find Jesus walking once more. He walks up the stairs to an upper room that has been made ready for the last Passover the Lord Jesus will celebrate with his disciples until his return. He teaches, admonishes, warns, and prepares his disciples for the inconceivable. And after a few hours together, hours that puzzled his small band of disciples, Jesus walked down the stairs, out the door, and on to Gethsemane. Gethsemane, the garden with the prophetic name: oil, or olive, press. It was there that the weight of the agony of taking away the sin of the world weighed hard on the Lord Jesus. As the press began its work, Jesus sweat great drops of blood. His soul was pressed. His heart pounded like a hammer squeezing every drop of oil from the olives beneath its head. 

Back and forth Jesus walked from his place of agonizing prayer to the place of the three unfeeling disciples, all bound with ropes of sleep. Not an encouraging word would be found from his three closest friends. Not one look of compassion showed on their faces, limp with the sleep of the hour.

From there, late into the night, Jesus walked to trial after trial, stopping only to be questioned, mocked, beaten, and whipped. Surely those legs must be tired by now. Jesus has walked so many miles. He has not gone the second mile, though that is all he has asked of us. He has gone so much farther. One more walk and for three days his walking will be done.

With a cross as heavy as a large man of his day, Jesus began his walk outside of the gates of Jerusalem. He walked on as far as his legs would carry him. The soldiers compelled another to walk with him. Simon of Cyrene, carry that cross! Jesus, fall in behind him! Onward they walked, the legs of Jesus now heavy with both pain and grief. The cacophony of the crowd is almost indistinguishable. Some are laughing, some are crying. Some are begging for mercy, some are braying like stupid donkeys. 

At a place shaped like a skull the procession ends. Jesus won't walk anymore--not for the next 3 days. In fact, those feet that carried Jesus so many miles are now carefully arranged and fastened to the vertical beam of the cross with such ferocity that no man with half a heart could look on. His hands are equally impaled and Jesus is raised up from the earth. 

In his mind he has to have thought, "I was born for this. This is my destiny." We know one thing he thought: who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame... (Heb. 12:2) In a way that remains a mystery to the human mind, Jesus became sin on that cross, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. We can throw around the big words: imputed, propitiation, expiation, etc.; we can throw them around, but the mystery will remain in the same darkness that surrounded the cross for 3 hours. 

When Jesus finally came down from the cross, he came down as a corpse. He was dead. No man took his life; he laid it down. He had become the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. God saw the travail of his soul. And God was satisfied. The perfect sacrifice had finally been made for the sin of the world.

Joseph, Nicodemus, and a handful of women hastily prepared the body and buried our Lord Jesus in the tomb of the rich. Don't worry, Joseph! He's just going to borrow it for a few days.

On the first day of the week, early in the morning, an angel of God rolled away the stone. We like to say that the angel rolled the stone away so we could walk in, not so Jesus could walk out; but does it really matter? He has defeated death and if the King of kings wants to walk out, I think it's his prerogative. He doesn't need to, that's for sure. But we beheld him for three years as he walked from place to place. Maybe he wanted to stretch his legs one more time before presenting himself to his father in heaven. 

Behold the Lamb! He was the Lamb who willingly walked to his death so you would be able to walk into life everlasting. 

Take a good look...