Something clicked in my head a few weeks ago. Jesus refers to His people as His sheep in scripture. Sheep are adult lambs. Jesus is the Lamb of God. The Lamb that was slain. The sacrificial Lamb who took away the sins of the world.
Why is Jesus referring to himself as a sheep?
I am not sure why this didn’t occur to me before, but maybe it’s because (don’t laugh) I just found out that lambs were baby sheep like 3 months ago. Okay go ahead laugh. But it’s true. My husband and I got the opportunity to portray Mary and Joseph (Olivia was baby Jesus) in our churches musical at Christmas and they had “lambs” with us in the manger. But when we saw these animals, they were more like sheep. So I asked, and found out lambs were just baby sheep. True story. Keep laughing… go ahead.
Anyway, I got to thinking, why would Jesus refer to Himself as a lamb, a baby sheep? There had to be some kind of significance behind this. And there is…
Okay so Jesus is the Lamb of God. But what does that have to do with His sheep since, we as Christians, are referred to as sheep?
Today, I was reading about Abraham and Isaac. God tested Abraham by asking him to take his beloved son, Isaac, to a place in the land of Moriah, and offer him as a burnt offering. Scripture doesn’t record Abraham’s full reaction, only that he was obedient to do so.
Abraham heads to a mountain in the land of Moriah to sacrifice Isaac. On the last portion of the journey, Isaac questions his father to where the lamb was for the burnt offering. Abraham assured his son that God would provide a lamb.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. Genesis 22:13
So here is Abraham preparing the alter with wood, and then binding Isaac to it. He took a knife, about to slaughter his son when an angel of the Lord comes and tells Abraham not to lay a hand on the boy. Abraham looks over and sees a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. He then called the place “the Lord will provide”, because “on the mount of the Lord it will be provided”.
Did you ever catch that when reading this in scripture? That Abraham believed for the lamb, but got a ram? I didn’t notice it until about a year ago when my friend told me about it. Since then I have just thought that when Abraham said that God would provide the lamb it was a foreshadowing of Jesus and that the ram was just sort what He provided at the time. And this was a foreshadowing but in a deeper way than I imagined.
Why would God provide a ram and not a lamb? Because you see a ram is a lamb. A ram is an uncastrated male sheep, a lamb. A ram is said to be the strongest of the herd and is known for protecting its herd as well. So God did provide the lamb, the strongest Lamb. The One that would be caught by its horns because of the crown of thorns placed on His head as He was heading to His alter, the cross.
I can imagine that Abraham was quite torn as he was preparing to sacrifice His beloved son. I can imagine that he felt like it was flat out torture as he took every step to the alter, and as he binded his son and laid him down wondering if God was going to come through for him. And then he takes out the knife…but then God steps in. He provided, just as Abraham believed He would.
What do you need to lay on the alter?
As we head into Holy week, it is a really significant question to consider. What does He want you to lay down? It may be fears and doubts, or it may be that thing that He has been asking you to give up for months now. It may be sin. What do you need to lay down that you have been holding on to for too long?
I believe He will provide the lamb. I really do, and so did Abraham. Do you believe He has and He will?
I bet that Abraham didn’t expect to look up and see the ram. The scripture uses the word “behold” as he looks up.
Behold. Look. See. Stand in awe. I bet that he didn’t expect God to provide more than he could even imagine, as he was about to sacrifice his son. He expected a lamb, but he got the ram. Strength, protection. More than he imagined.
I believe in His promises, but if I am honest, I believe them with spurts of fear. What if we actually believed His promises with steadfast expectancy, because we knew with everything in us that His word wouldn’t be shaken? What if we stepped out in obedience believing for the lamb?
If we did that, we would behold, we would see, we would stand in wonder that His word is true, that He is faithful, and that He indeed sent Jesus, the Lamb of God to fulfill His promise.
Believe. Step out in faith. Know that He is God.