Mary Had A Little Lamb…
…whom we know to be Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29)!
But why did Jesus have to die? Did it really make sense for God to have His own Son killed…for us? Was it really worth His sacrifice? And what did it bring in return to the world, and to Heaven beyond?
The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross on Good Friday changed the course of human history, giving mankind the hope of freedom of sin, death and Hell, and eternal life in Heaven with the One who loved them enough to sacrifice His own life to them.
His death was a blood sacrifice for the sins of mankind:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)
God determined that a blood sacrifice was required, as a graphic demonstration of the cost of sin. When Adam and Eve fell in the garden of Eden, God made clothes for them out of animal skin. It would’ve been shocking and horrifying to that first couple, as they would have tended to that particular animal and perhaps even thought of it like a pet, named by Adam hinself. But it was a graphic demonstration of their spiritual death, and a foreshadowing of things to come, with Christ on the Cross.
Mankind grew so wicked, that only a single God-fearing man was left – Noah – and even his story ended in drunken family discord. At that time, there was still no means of reconciliation offered between the holiness of God and the sinfulness a man.
Though the world was in shambles from sin nd violence, God called a nation out of captivity to become a holy people, dedicated to Him. He delivered the Israelites out of Egypt by a miracle, through the leadership of Moses.
When God gave instructions for building the Tabernacle, and finally the Temple in Jerusalem, He finally had a place to dwell among his sinful people. But there was still a place that no one could enter within that Tabernacle and the latter Temples of Solomon and Herod, called the Holy of Holies.
The Holy of Holies was curtained off from the rest of the Temple, and could only be entered once a year by the High Priest. But his title alone didn’t give him access.
The High Priest had a rope tied around his ankle, and had a set of bells tied to the hem of his robes. The moment he walked into the Holy of Holies, the people would be listening for his continuous movements through the religious symbolic activities he would have to perform, as the bells would continue to ring on the hem of his garments.
The rope and the bells were instituted by God and installed by man for one reason. Because that High Priest was still a man, and as such, had a sinful nature. And as such – if he had not gone through the proper physical and spiritual cleansing required before walking in there, he would be struck down by God’s glory – and then his body would need to be pulled out by that rope around his ankle.
Even worse, his death would immediately end the activities in the Temple for the year. It takes time to institute a new High Priest, and it wouldn’t be happening right away. And the High Priest was there, on the Day of Atonement, for one purpose – to offer a sacrifice on behalf of the ENTIRE NATION OF ISRAEL, for the atoning of its sins. So the lack of preparation by the High Priest would mean that the entire nation would be irreconciled to God. I would assume therefore that there would be very few High Priests that would walk in there without being prepared. You’d only have to see one High Priest dragged out on a rope to wake you up forever, especially if you were the High Priest ordained to take his place. Not terribly surprisingly, there is no record of any High Priest in ancient Israelite history being stricken down inside the Holy of Holies.
Even Moses himself, who met with God on the top of Mount Sinai, and who brought the 10 Commandments down to the people, was never able to see God face-to-face. And anyone who touched the Ark of the Covenant, where the presence of God Himself rested inside the Temple, would be instantly struck dead.
Not only was mankind separated from God by sin, but because of that sin, we couldn’t even stand in the presence of God’s holiness and live. So our own sins created a situation where God the Creator could not have fellowship with His human Creation – the purpose for which we were created – because of our sinful nature.
So God had to create a plan.
Remember back in the garden of Eden, God took an animal skin to cover over there nakedness. They were still sinful, but God gave them a covering for that sin. Blood was shed because of there sin. And this was going to be a reoccurring theme throughout the Bible.
Mankind in the Old Testament was undeniably sinful. And when God called Israel to be His people, He gave them a long list of laws to abide by. These were laws against murder and stealing, mandating the care of widows and the poor, etc. But the people couldn’t live up to the standards. They were still sinful before God. They needed a covering for this sins.
So God instituted animal sacrifice, a deeply symbolic ritual. Blood, representing life, was to be drained from the animal, reminding worshippers of their spiritual death.
A “scapegoat” was also created, in which one goat was slaughtered and another one was released into the wild, which metaphorically carried away the sins of Israel (Leviticus 6:1-34).
Unlike other deities that came up at the time – false gods that were raised up in disobedience to God – and who readily accepted animal sacrifice – the God of the Bible was not going to be a appeased by these offerings forever. Simply “covering” one’s sin wasn’t enough for a Holy God.
Rather, in his love, He offered a way for His people to be covered over so they could still approach him. Rebellion and sin required death. They were not going to be taken lightly. In an order for the Israelis to gain forgiveness, something had to die.
This was a painful process (mostly for the animal at the time). But that was the point: Sin leads to death. It was serious. And in order to avoid their own destruction because of their sin, the Israelites had to offer something innocent to die in their place – in this case, an animal without blemish, who would not have sinned, of course, was the only sacrifice deemed to be worthy.
But this was never enough. The sinful nature of man lead them to sin over and over again. No amount of animal blood was going to completely wash them clean, or pay for the death penalty that they owed.
In fact, according to a report by NBC News, it’s estimated by historians that more than 1.2 million animals were slaughtered in just one day. Ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus described an enormous slaughtering operation. Some passages in ancient Jewish texts depicted priest that were wading up to their knees in blood.
But it still wasn’t enough. These blood sacrifices could cover the sins of the people, but they never would take their sins away. So God had to come up with a final plan to destroy the power of sin, Hell and the grave – through the death of Christ on the Cross.
28 After this, Jesus, [a]knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”
29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.
30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Did you notice what He said that? Were you paying attention?
Actually, notice first what HE DID NOT say: “I am finished”. These were not the last gasping breaths of a dying God, finally overthrown by the Devil, who had sought to stage a coup in Heaven and failed. But what sweet victory for the demonic hordes, to finally best God and kill His Son, on the planet that His Son had actually CREATED. The Creator, dying on a tree that He created. It would have been almost too much for Satanic gang to handle.
Actually, it ended up being MUCH MORE than the Satanic group could handle..
For suddenly, after hours of hanging on the Cross in agony, Jesus determined to lay aside His divine attributes and do something incredily odd. And it was, in fact, something that God had never done before, and has never done again since, and will never do again in eternities to come – Jesus decided it was a good time to die.
We all have seen the old spaghetti western movies, where the bad guy is about to be hung or shot by a firing squad or some similar demise, and the sheriff or executioner asks: “Any last words”? We use the expression “famous last words” today to mock someone for something they said, that ended up being ironic.
With the exception of these famous last words, of course, of Jesus Christ. Jesus lifted up His head from the Cross and with a “loud voice”, as other Gospels recorded it, He cried out
“IT Is Finished” Tetelestai (Greek)
I’m sure every demon within the sound of His voice must have dropped everything they were carrying and yelled out “what did HE say?”. For you see, according to the first edition of the King James Bible, they had calculated that from Adam to the time of Christ was:
“3,974 years, six months, and ten days“.
That is a long time to run with an insufficient plan of salvation.
It’s a long time to watch mankind continue to get kicked in the teeth by the Devil.
A long time to watch countless animals slaughtered, and witness and smell and almost taste the blood shed everywhere.
And after all that, it was a long time for mankind to still have no freedom.
“It Is Finished” was not a call of defeat. It was the culmination of almost 4,000 years of planning, from the day that Adam Fell until Jesus Christ died on Calvary.
FINALLY, the price paid was enough. The final bill had been settled, every receipt had been turned in, the penalty was PAID IN FULL. Sin had left behind a truly bloody mess – but now all was washed white as now.
Remember this moment in history. Because the lying Devil is surely going to come around to your house, tell you he’s eaten your lunch, got your number, signed your final death warrant, etc etc. blah blah blah.
Oh and he might make you quake when he tells you he’s planned for your total disaster, that you can’t get out of it, and you can’t win over him. He always over-reaches when he doesn’t have authority, to scare you into a submission you wouldn’t normally be under otherwise. But the Devil obviously doesn’t know your future. He’s not even a very good student of history.
In fact, he doesn’t seem to really grasp his OWN future.
Satan planned on killing Christ, and I’m sure Hell was having a party, when Christ uttered those famous last words. Had Satan known the final outcome, or believed the prophecies that told what was going to happen, there’s no way he would have let Christ hang on a Cross. Jesus would likely have been left alone to grow old and die in His bed, without redeeming mankind. But Satan played right into God’s hands, and with his assistance by having Christ executed, Satan sealed his own fate – for soon after, Jesus paid him a visit in Hell, and took the keys of “death, Hell and the grave” away from the Devil.
So, if the Devil is so pathetically BAD at predicting outcomes with Christ’s death, even when it was prophesied for up to 1,500 years before Jesus came; and if the Devil was stupid enough to actually believe he could overthrow God, only to find that God has eternally finished him off, and it’s only a matter of time before we’re free of him for good….
IF the Devil was so bad at knowing the final score of spiritual things, like the power of Jesus’ death, why is he convincing you that he knows what your last days will be like? When he tries to tell you that you’re not gonna amount to “jack squat”, just remind him that he actually DOESN’T KNOW Jack Squat..
The price paid by Christ on Good Friday was more than enough to take away the sins of the world, if forgiveness for all those sins was requested. There was enough power in that death on the Cross to cancel every sin on earth, should it come to that. The blood sacrifices of the past only covered mankind’s sins, and never got rid of them.
The ministry, life and death of Jesus Christ can be told in something as simple as a nursery rhyme. It’s in keeping with one of the most famous of them all, Mary Had A Little Lamb, written in 1830 by Sarah Josepha Hale, a renowned writer and influential editor – who was actually known as the “Mother of Thanksgiving” for helping making the day a national holiday!
The poem has been rewritten from the perspective of believers worldwide, and I think the edit is 100 times better:
Mary had the little Lamb, who lived before His birth;
Self-existent Son of God, from Heaven He came to Earth.
Mary had the little Lamb; see Him in yonder stall;
Virgin-born Son of God, to save man from the Fall.
Mary had the little Lamb, obedient Son of God;
Everywhere the Father led, His feet were sure to trod.
Mary had the little Lamb, crucified on the tree
The rejected Son of God, He died to set men free.
1 Peter 1:18
Mary had the little Lamb—men placed Him in the grave,
Thinking they were done with Him; to death He was no slave!
Mary had the little Lamb, ascended now is He;
All work on Earth is ended, our Advocate to be.
Mary had the little Lame—mystery to behold!
From the Lamb of Calvary, a Lion will unfold.
Revelation 5: 5,6
(Marv and Marbeth Rosenthal.
Copies of this poem may be used without written permission from the authors.)
Courtesy of Bible.org
And second and last version, equally powerful:
Mary had the little Lamb,
He washed her white as snow;
And everywhere that Lamb went,
Mary was sure to go.
“Why does she love that Lamb so?”
curious people cry
“Because He first loved me, you know”,
Mary did reply.
Adapted by Becky
Courtesy of http://www.thisreadingmama.com