Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel

1 HERE IS THE LAMB OF GOD     - John 1

I’ve heard it said that that the names I use for God shapes my relationship with God. Experience suggests that this much is true. What we call God and why we refer to God with the titles and images that we do matters.

What people call Jesus in the gospels is significant. It says something about what they have been taught to look for and who they long for Jesus to be.

What John means when he declares, “Here is the Lamb of God,” is debatable. Read Christopher Skinner’s excellent overview of the subject (“Another Look at the Lamb of God”) and your reaction might resemble mine. Oh my. It’s a landmine.

Briefly, there are nine major views. Seven of those views are heavy on the idea of substitution: Jesus as the Lamb of God stands in for something or someone.

There are two other possibilities, which part ways with the idea that “Lamb” is a sacrificial term. What John means, say these schools of thought, is that Jesus is the suffering servant of Yahweh (Isaiah); or the Triumphant Lamb (Revelation).

I guess what I’m up to here is asking you to think about it. What does it mean that John calls Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (v.29)? Sermons are supposed to start a conversation. It sure is easier to start a conversation with folks who have dipped at least their big toe in the water!

The question once more: What does it mean that John calls Jesus what he calls him (v.36)? Remember, there are two Johns; John the Baptizer—the one who sees Jesus coming toward him and refers to him in terms of a lamb; and John the Evangelist— the inspired author of this gospel.

Another thing to keep in mind is how the John in the story is not encountering Jesus in light of how Jesus will die; though John the storyteller certainly is. John in the story is seeing Jesus and pointing to his presence and forthcoming ministry (C. Skinner).

Consider John’s words. Consider the words you use to refer to God/Jesus. Those words, I imagine, issue an invitation: Come and see (v.39).

Maybe the sometimes priestly and prophetic, always a poet Shakespeare was on point. “Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

UncategorizedRachel May