Lamb Without Blemish
In the presribed procedure for the sacrificial lamb, Moses had been instructed to ensure through the priests that the animal was free from spot, blemish or fracture. No second-rate offering was to be presented to the Lord.
John the Baptist had seen Jesus at the Jordan River and had confirmed Him to be 'the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.'
Christ must have lived a sinless life or he would have been disqualified. This places his clean living on a par with his obedient dying in accomplishing our redemption.
How would this look over the years of His upbringing? No spoiled and selfish whining for treats as a youngster. No yielding to the suggestions of pre-teen playmates to steal, fight, avoid chores or engage in harmful pranks. No slacking in the scripture studies of a young Hebrew boy. No talking back to his parents. No slippery salesmanship with a piece of furniture in the carpenters' shop. No untoward anger when any buyer complained of price, quality or deadline. No gossip about the shortcomings of the rabbi or any other villager.
This obedience must have been fueled by intense love for parents, love for the standards of scripture and love for the Heavenly Father in prayer. He was also the object of the Father's intense love. Love which drew the best out of Him.
Imagine the conversations between Joseph and Mary: "Woman, I cannot understand it. I think of my own youth, and then I see the boy operating without a ripple, without a complaint, without any pre-disposition to stick up for himself. Will this prove to be healthy or in his best interests in the future? Is it normal? Is it weakness? He learns well. He means well. But then, last season in Jerusalem. His disappearance in the temple and the impression he made upon the doctors of the law. Is he growing up too soon? Do I have a regular son to teach, to discipline, to tease or is he something else? We know of God's special plans...but I feel so inadequate."
And Mary would listen, nod and smile, "Husband, the angel who announced Him to me spoke of great things, and of deliverance for our people. God is in charge of this. We are of all couples most blessed. The boy is behaving as He should. He is starting to draw apart from us more frequently for prayer. This also is to be expected."
The Church focuses on a sweet infant's manger. An upbringing of no particular note. A whirlwind compassionate and miraculous Galilean tour. A verbal jousting with the Pharisees and Sadducees. An intense battle of will at Gethsemane, and a noble self-offering on the cross. We hasten to the point of Christ and Him crucified. In the Gospels thirty chapters out of eighty-nine deal with the Passion Week.
Let us not forget the heroic passage through thirty years of clean, honourable, sensitive sinless living which led up to Matthew chapter four. Without those as well we would find ourselves without a Saviour. But friends, what a Saviour!
(Picture by Brian Jekel)