Jakarta, 19 January 2019
A Christian Pilgrim
JESUS IS THE LAMB OF GOD
(A biblical refection on THE 2nd ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A] – 19 January 2020)
Gospel Reading: John 1:29-34
First Reading: Isaiah 49:3,5-6; Psalms: Psalm 40:2,4,7-10; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
The Scripture Text
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for He was before me.’ I myself did not know Him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that He might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on Him. I myself did not know Him; but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34 RSV)
In today’s Gospel reading, John the Baptist refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God”, a title rich in meaning.
Today, when two people enter an agreement, they usually draw up a contract and sign it to make it official. In ancient times, however, this couldn’t happen because most people were not able to read and write. Neither party could read the document or sign it. How then did the ancient people seal their agreements?
The answer to this question is that they made their agreements official by going through a little ceremony. They slaughtered animals, split them in two, and then waked between the two halves as a dramatic way of saying that if they weren’t faithful to the terms of the agreement, may the same thing happen to them that happened to the animals. Periodically, they renewed the agreement with a similar ceremony.
Although these ceremonies differed somewhat with time and place, the one feature they all had in common was they always involved the shedding of the blood of an animal. Because ancient people believed blood was the source of life, the blood of the animal gave life to the agreement. Without the shedding of blood, the agreement was meaningless.
The early Christians believed they had an agreement with God, an agreement that, like a marriage, produced a very close and loving relationship. We call such an agreement a covenant.
The early Christians called Jesus “the Lamb of God” because His blood sealed the covenant between them and the Father. Jesus was the “animal” (the lamb) whose blood gave life to the very close and loving relationship between God and the Christian people. The crucifixion was the ceremony that made this covenant official and it is Jesus’ blood that renews the covenant each time we celebrate the Eucharist. Jesus is the lamb who is slain to make possible our close and loving relationship to the Father.
Just as it takes much effort to make a marriage work, our covenant relationship with God also requires efforts. What will you do to make your relationship with God grow stronger?
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 48-49.)
Prayer: Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us. Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: grant us peace. Amen.
Jakarta, 18 January 2020
A Christian Pilgrim