Lamb of God
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A
9-12 year olds
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
I wonder what the people think when they hear John the Baptist call Jesus the "Lamb of God"? This is not a familiar phrase. It is not found in Hebrew scripture.
They might, though, think of the Passover lambs. Each year, for thousands of years now, Jewish people celebrate the most holy and ancient of meals--the Passover. Hebrew scripture records the very first Passover meal celebrated in Egypt when the Jewish people were slaves. God instructed every household to slaughter a lamb, eat the meat, and spread the blood on the doorway to their homes. That night the angel of death visited each home in Egypt taking the firstborn son, but passed over each home that had the blood of the lamb on the doorway. The Egyptian leader, Pharaoh, was finally convinced that he must let the Hebrew people go free. The Jewish people, saved by the blood of the lambs, were convinced that God was indeed their God and they were God's people. Each year Passover lambs are sacrificed, and the Passover meal is celebrated as a memorial--a way for each Jewish person both to remember the first Passover and to participate in it. It is a way for them to enter more deeply into the covenant, to enter more deeply into relationship with God.
John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God. It calls to mind these animals designated by God to save people by their blood. Does Jesus save people by his blood? Absolutely. Remember, in his baptism he accepts his mission and takes our sins upon his shoulders. At the Last Supper, he takes the bread and says, "This is my body." He takes the wine and says, "This is my blood." Can you live with out your blood? Of course not. He is giving his life. He offers his life in the bread and in the wine, long before the soldiers arrive to take his life away. (Can they take away something he has already given?) He offers his life so completely as gift, as sacrifice, that he defeats death. He is emptied of life on that cross, but on the third day he is filled with the eternal life of God. The life that will never end in death. And he offers this life to us.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."
Like John the Baptist, the priest says this at Mass as he lifts up the broken bread and the chalice of wine for all to see. We remember the Last Supper, and we participate in it. We are given a meal to celebrate, a way to enter more deeply into covenant relationship with God.
John the Baptist says,
I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.
We see the bread and the wine and we know who this is. Like John the Baptist, we too can testify. Just before the bread is placed into our hands, the priest says, "The Body of Christ."
It is so.
We testify in a clear voice: