Friday, December 9, 2011

Advent XV

While most folks would say one Sunday of John the Baptist is more than enough, for some reasons those who created the ordered scripture lesssons for the lectionary's Advent season decided the Baptizer should show up a second Sunday. So, still he prowls around spewing his message about repentance. However, this week he causes us to become even more focused on Jesus as he speaks of Him as "the Lamb of God." (John 1:29)
It is a word of identification that carries us back to the Old Testament. As we are called to behold the Lamb of God, our minds race back to the story of the scapegoat, the one who carrried the sins of the people out of the camp. We are reminded of the lamb slain in place of Isaac. But, surely, the story which most often comes to mind is the way the blood of the slain lamb provided a means of deliverance for the Hebrew people that last night they lived as slaves in Egypt.
Even before the ministry of Jesus begins, John the Baptist is speaking a word which identifies Jesus as the One who will be another sacrifice with saving power. However, this time it will be different. The writer of Hebrews speaks of the difference as he wrote, 'but when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, 'he sat down at the right hand of God.'" (Hebrews 10:12) Another sacrifice will not be needed. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God whom we know as Jesus was all that will ever be needed. The problem of human sin has been handled once and for all. John the Baptist points us not to the fragrant smell of fresh hay in a manger, but to the smell of divine death which provides for us what we can never provide for ourselves. Life.

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