Advent. Day 13: The Sheep

Advent. Day 13: The Sheep

Opening Prayer. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Amen.

Scripture. Isaiah 65:24–25 (Rom 8:35–39).

Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.


Kingdom Comes.  From Dawn Duncan Harrell.

Sheep are the most powerful image in the Bible. Sheep.

Priests slaughter them for guilt, purification and peace offerings. At Passover, a lamb’s blood redeems each household from the angel of death.

Prophets use flocks of sheep to depict God’s family and to scold their leaders for behaving like wolves in shepherds’ clothing, gorging themselves on the most vulnerable instead of nourishing them in green pastures.

But Isaiah upends that metaphor. When God’s kingdom comes, a wolf and a lamb will feast together.

Five-hundred years later, Bethlehem sheep witness the heavenly host’s announcement: “Tonight, a sufficient savior is born!” Jesus will redeem humans once for all. The end of sheep’s sacrificial service has begun.

“Behold,” John the Baptist declares when Jesus is grown, “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

Jesus hasn’t matured into a vegetarian wolf. Instead, the distinction between oppressor and oppressed is obliterated because Christ retains the redeeming role of the flock’s most vulnerable.

Kingdom comes.

In John’s Apocalypse, heaven’s host sings again, “Worthy is the Lamb, looking as if it’s been slaughtered, to receive power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory and blessing!” (5:6, 12). Resurrected from the dead, the best image of Christ the Conqueror is still a baby sheep with its throat slit.

It’s a little revolting. I’m tempted to look away, not to worship.

But then I hear Paul confessing: “We are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered,” and I remember that I, too, am a humble sheep, destined for death. Yet even in glory, the Lamb shares and redeems my fate. “Who will separate me from the love of Christ? . . .

No one. In all things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:35–39).


Invitation.

How are you suffering today? Big or small, justified or phantasmic, your hurts and griefs are not separated from Christ the Conqueror. You can hold both the pain and the image of the Lamb together: in your mind’s eye, in your emotional core, in your physical body. You are not alone.

Closing Prayer. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Amen.