Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where is Jesus?

This is the LAMB logo.  In Honduras, LAMB is called Asociación Para El Servicio Mundial and uses the same logo.  It is a shepherd holding a lamb, perhaps that one lost lamb that he left the herd to find.  So, where is Jesus in the logo?  Is he the Good Shepherd?  Of course!  Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep..." (John 10:14,15)  In this logo, it is clear that the Good Shepherd knows and loves the lamb.

But wait!  I thought Jesus is the Lamb of God!  John the Baptist recognized him right away:  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)  The lamb in the logo looks so vulnerable and yet so safe in the arms of the shepherd.

So which is it?  The Good Shepherd or the Lamb of God?  He can't possibly be both, right?  It has to be one or the other.  Or does it?  About 15 years ago, give or take, a young priest at St.David's preached a memorable sermon.  Fr. Kevin Kelly explained how, in fact, Jesus is both.   Here is the story:

A visitor was driving in the Irish countryside and came upon a shepherd and his herd of sheep.  The visitor asked the shepherd what he thought it meant for Jesus to be both the Good Shepherd and the Lamb of God. The shepherd thought for a moment and then said this:

In the early spring, during lambing season, two things invariably happen - some of the ewes die giving birth, leaving their lambs orphaned, and some other lambs are stillborn. A mother ewe will only care for her own sheep, so the orphaned lambs will die. To prevent this, the shepherd will take the body of one of the stillborn lambs, cut it open, and pour its blood over one of the orphans. He then presents that lamb to the stillborn's mother. When she smells the blood of her own child in the new lamb, she takes it for her own, and cares for it as her own.

So, there you have it.  Jesus both sacrifices His blood for the orphaned lamb, otherwise doomed to death, and He is the Good Shepherd who cares for the all the sheep, not willing to lose a single one.

Maria Mercedes with her caretaker, 
Tonya, who so loves this little lamb.
I think about the  Asociación Para El Servicio Mundial staff here.  They also are not willing to lose a single lamb.  They sacrifice daily in ways we really don't understand.  Why? Because they know their Good Shepherd and they deeply love the Lamb of God.

‘Never again will they hunger;
   never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
   nor any scorching heat.
 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
   will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
   ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’

(Revelation 7:16,17)