Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Lamb and the Shepherds

Life of Christ 8 

          Why did God choose to have shepherds be the very first to kneel in worship before His Son (Luke 2.8-20)? After all, He could have chosen to send the heavenly angelic announcement and choir to anyone in the vicinity of Bethlehem that night. Why did He choose the shepherds?
          I believe the answer is simple: God wanted to point toward the redemptive work of Jesus Christ via His sacrificial atoning death on the cross from the very beginning.
          One of the clearest pictures in all of the Old Testament of the atoning death of Christ is found in the Passover. We find its genesis in Exodus 12 as Moses comes to the final round of his match with Pharaoh and the demon gods of Egypt. God expressed through Moses that the firstborn in each home would die when the death angel passed over unless they applied the blood of a perfect sacrificial lamb on their doorposts. To quote the Lord, 'When I see the blood I will pass over you.'
          The centrality of the shed blood of a sacrificed lamb to cover sin was reinforced in almost every aspect of the Old Testament religion that Moses set up in Leviticus, and continued alive and well into the time of Christ. Josephus tells us that at Passover alone in Jesus' time 200,000 lambs were slaughtered on the Temple Mount.
          Wherever did the Temple get access to all those lambs each April? Well, the Mishnah (the largest section of the Talmud) tells us Temple raised them – watch this now – on pastures around Bethlehem. That's right, the very shepherds who came to see the Christ child at the instigation of the angelic choir were responsible for delivering thousands of lambs each April to the Temple to be sacrificed on Passover. That night they left those flocks of sacrificial lambs to kneel in worshipful adoration in the muck of that stable courtyard in the inn of Bethlehem at the feet of the Lamb of God Himself.
          It is no coincidence that Jesus, our Paschal Lamb, was born in the city that raised them, and that His first visitors were the shepherds who watched them – just as it was no coincidence that at the exact time of His death on Mt. Calvary, thirty three years later, the Passover lambs were being slaughtered by the thousands in the Temple.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
1Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

  If you would like to listen to the audio sermon that accompanies this blog post you may find it here on our church website. Press 'launch media player' and choose We Preach Christ 3, 'The Babe Lying in a Manger'. 

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