Is it time to retire the judge and bring on the Lamb of God? You bet your bippy!
In 1968, Sammy Davis Jr. made his first of numerous appearances on the television comedy series, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In. Maybe you remember watching him donning a white powdered wig and black robe while walking through the middle of a comedy routine saying, Here comes da judge, here comes da judge. Frankly, it never grew old for me. I remember laughing until it hurt just like it was yesterday, but that was 55 years ago.
Fortunately, John the Baptist, didn’t say, Here comes the judge. He pointed to Jesus and said to his followers, Here comes the Lamb of God. The last thing those disheartened and burdened people needed was another judge.
I know that the word lamb conjures up images of cuddly and cute creatures bouncing like soft woolen snowflakes. But for those living in First Century Palestine, where lambs were slaughtered for the Passover, the word lamb was more likely to conjure up images of a suffering servant, of one who would sacrifice everything for the love of his people. That’s what the people needed, and that’s why so many picked up and followed Jesus after John proclaimed him as the Lamb of God.
The people needed a gentle Messiah who knew which parts of their lives had been pierced. They needed a Lamb of God who could save by the power of love, not the power of indictment!
Gallup did an extensive series of polls on religion in America, and in one poll they found that EIGHTY TWO PERCENT felt a need for spiritual growth in their lives. That was up twenty-four percent in only four years. I don’t believe we have anywhere near eighty-two percent of American adults in our churches.
That same poll indicated, and this one really saddens me, that 50 percent, THAT’S HALF of all American adults feel like they will be cut off and unforgiven by God when they die.
I find myself wondering if churchgoers need to be converted to a new way of witnessing to Jesus Christ. I’m wondering if we don’t need to do what good old John the Baptist did, and switch to some new describers of Christ and the God of Christ. I really believe that for too long we Christians in the mainline traditions have been willing to let others do our witnessing for us.
We quietly work on our church projects and our fund raisers, and we gather in our Bible Studies and we speak of Jesus around the tables, and we let some of those eighty-two percent on the outside, who admit they need spirituality in their lives, get their impressions of Jesus from a few select preachers on television and radio. I’m afraid that I don’t often hear John’s gentle words echoed there. I don’t hear Jesus often described as the Suffering Servant, Lamb of God. I too often hear him described as the Jesus of wrath and of judgement.
Personally I think we’ve heard enough about that Jesus. It is the Lamb of God that we must hold up for others to see, just as John and Andrew and Nathaniel and Peter were able to see in our appointed Gospel this week. Remember it was after they heard that Jesus was the Lamb that they followed him!
The story is told of a woman who was taking a walk one day when she came across some boys who were hitting and throwing rocks at another boy. She boldly stepped into the group and said, Stop that. If you want someone to hit then hit me. Throw your rocks at me.
The group of boys became curiously quiet, and the woman felt a quivery fear as she started to walk to her house.
As it turned out, the group of boys followed her in silence, and when she looked back at them from her porch, they were still standing there, meek and silent, looking up at her. These boys had never known anyone who was ready and willing to take a beating for someone else, maybe even to die for someone else. Their whole world was one of beat up before you get beat up. But when one willingly stepped up to serve and to suffer, they could say nothing. They could do nothing except to follow this newly found lamb.
There are many people out there who see the world as one where you beat up before you get beat up. Many people from many walks of life see the world as that vicious circle. We need to tell them about the Lamb of God. We need to tell them about the One who has taken some of our blows and some of the stones that the world can throw at us. We need to tell them about the Christ who knows our pain like no other!
People don’t need to hear about the fire-breathing God of damnation. They need to hear about the Servant Lamb who knows them and will love them at any cost.
Did you notice in today’s Gospel when Jesus asked them, What do you seek?”
How they answered with another question? They asked him, Where are you staying?
That might seem odd at first, but it’s not really, it’s a perfectly logical question. Jesus asks what they seek, and they say that they are seeking him and that they want to stay with him, that they want to serve the servant of God!
Stop and think back to when you first came through the doors of the church where you now belong. Especially those of you who have joined that church fairly recently. Why did you stay? You didn’t have to stay, but you did. Why? Didn’t it have something to do with the fact that instead of a roaring lion-God or a fire-breathing God, you found the warmer and softer touch of the Lamb of God? Isn’t that at least part of what brings you back each week?
Well there are many more outside the walls of that church who are seekers just like you. Don’t let others do your witnessing for you.
Let’s begin this week to make sure that we help others to know the kind of Christ that John describes, in our homes, where we work, where we shop, where we play . . . wherever.
If there’s one thing this Gospel from Matthew shows us, it’s that you can’t claim to be a Christian and not tell others about John’s kind of Christ. You just can’t do it!
John Jewell, a pastor, writes about a drawing that a social worker asked a little boy named Eric to draw of his family. This was a family that was clouded with much turmoil and dysfunction. In the boy’s picture, it was raining. His mother and dad and sister were in the picture, but there were no smiles on any of the faces, and it seemed that the boy was missing from the picture.
The social worker said, This is a very nice picture Eric. I see
your mom, and your dad and your sister, but I don’t see you. Why isn’t Eric in the picture?
The boy then pointed to a small black scribble in the corner of the drawing and said, There I am!
Can you imagine feeling like a small black scribble in the corner of the picture of your life?
Maybe you can. I know for certain that there are many outside the walls of our churches who do.
They don’t need a Savior with a pitchfork, they need the gentle Messiah who restores dignity and reminds us just how precious we are in God’s sight; they need someone to witness to the Lamb of God, the Christ who forgives and nurtures, and heals and loves.
That’s the Christ that can change lives. That’s the Christ who can make a scribble, stand up and walk tall. That’s the Christ that most people want to follow. That’s the Christ of most people’s hopes. That’s the Christ of our faith!
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