Day 6: Jesus is the Lamb of God
Ісус як Агнець Божий (Ukrainian)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29
One day John the Baptist saw Jesus at the Jordan River, where John was baptising, and said to people: “Look, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Obviously and importantly, Jesus is the Passover Lamb whose once and for all sacrifice on the cross freed us from the penalty our sin deserves. We celebrate this gift of grace as we observe Advent.
I want us to consider another connection to Jesus as the Lamb of God, a connection that’s particularly meaningful to me in this time and my context. When Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples and sent them out to labour in His kingdom, He said to them: “Go! I am sending you out like lambs surrounded by wolves” (Luke 10:3). Later, before His arrest, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension, the Lamb of God prayed for His disciples and, prophetically, for us, His disciples in the ages to come. He said to the Father: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). This prayer reminds me that He knows that He sends us into the world like lambs surrounded by wolves. I need this because this is how we very often feel as His children in the context of social-political and economic challenges in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
My context tells me that, in order to survive in it, I need to become a wolf, a predator, because no one will take care of me if I do not take care of myself. But Christ reminds me that I am His sheep, called to entrust myself to His care, becoming like Him and transforming into His character. The sheep cannot defend itself from the wolf. The Shepherd protects the sheep from the wolves, not by the power of the sheep but by His power. By the power of Him who has loved us, we are His salt and light in the world. We are amid rot, but we do not rot and do not stink because God, the Father and the Son and the Spirit, is in us and with us. We are among the sinful darkness, but we are not darkness because the light of the Father through the Son shines in the Spirit in us and through us, through His sheep in the world of the wolves.
Christ also reminds us that the church is not a wolf pack. Relationships in the Church are not competitive relationships within a group controlled by an alpha male. The Church is built on our experience of Christ’s love through the Holy Spirit, not on the strong and mighty hand of a human political or religious leader and not on our achievements or merits in the community. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow lambs following the Good Shepherd. And the shared life of the Church is not a hunt or defence of our hunting grounds! We pursue the mission of God as the people of God in the world of wolves: the mission to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength with our worship and our lives; and to love our neighbour—yes, even our wolf neighbour—as ourselves. The Lamb of God sends us like sheep into the midst of wolves, not to be torn apart and not to feed us to the wolves. Instead, He wants to reveal the transforming power of the gospel through our faithfulness to Him and His mission, even when we feel surrounded by a wolf pack.
John’s call to people to look at the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, reminds us that the Lord, by His grace, can transform even the hardest wolf into His sheep. He is capable of turning wolves into His lambs, reviving them for a new life with Him for His sake and the sake of His love and mission.
So, Lamb of God, keep us, your sheep, safe from the evil one in this world when we feel like wolves surround us, and help us faithfully carry your mission. Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Taras Dyatlik lives in Rivne, Ukraine, where he is the Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Overseas Council International. He also preaches at a free evangelical church in Rivne. Taras served as project manager for the Slavic Bible Commentary and the forthcoming Central Asian Bible Commentary, both produced with support from Langham Partnership.