So, I came across this picture of some knitted nativity characters. I noticed the donkey and the sheep at the top of the picture and my next thought was that the sheep in the bottom left looked dead because it had its legs in the air.
Once I clicked on the small thumbnail picture I was looking at, it opened up in full size and I could see that what I had thought was a dead sheep was really baby Jesus. Oops!
At first I thought that this was just funny, but then it occurred to me how profound that my mistake was (it’s not often that you can refer to your mistakes as being profound and so I’m going to make the most of it!)
When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1.29)
At this time of year, we tend to focus on baby Jesus and in one way this is mind-blowing as we think through the miracle and implications of the creator of the universe becoming human. In another way though we can view the birth of Jesus as a nice story with a cute baby and we can lose sight of what was really going on.
Jesus came into the world to become our saviour and he saves us primarily through his death on the cross.
In Old Testament times, the Jews would sacrifice a lamb to take away their sin and as John called Jesus ‘the lamb of God’, this image of sacrifice is what the people who heard would have thought of. A lamb (which had to be perfect) took away sin by dying in the place of (or as a substitute for) the person who had sinned. The animals death gave freedom from the specific sins that were being turned away from whereas the good news now (for all the lambs in the world as well as for us) is that Jesus’ death dealt with sin once and for all. If you want to understand more about why Jesus died, then you will want to read why do we call it good Friday?
So the dead sheep was really baby Jesus, the lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. What an amazing reminder of who Jesus is and why he came. Thank you God!