‘There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.‘ (John 1:29)
In John 1:29, Jesus was referred to as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus’ title ‘Lamb of God’ is but a common or popular one, yet I seem to disregard the significance of it. Every time I hear that phrase before, what registers to my mind is God himself, with all His power, strength, and might. It was only earlier this month, when I attended the Regional Leader’s Retreat of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon Eastern Visayas Region that I began to look at it differently.
During the leader’s retreat, we were to understand the characteristics of a sheep for us to be a better shepherd who can lead a flock. I learned from the retreat that a sheep is a dumb and directionless animal and that it really needs the guidance of a shepherd because of the said weaknesses.
And here comes this verse in John 1:29 saying, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God. Behold, he who takes away the sin of the world.‘ Wow! It was my initial reaction when I realized what that verse really meant. What is it with being a Lamb? This question paves way to our salvation. Jesus, humbled himself to be our sacrificial lamb and accepted all the punishment for our sins which He didn’t commit. He did it despite Him being God himself, Jesus may have actually done it differently. He could have still saved us without Him going through all those sufferings, but He didn’t do otherwise. Jesus allowed Himself to go through all the sufferings of physical pain, torture, and even death to pay for our sins and save every one of us, astrayed and sinful people. With that realization, I asked myself: “who am I to deserve such great act from the Lord? Who am I to deserve His love?” For I know that I, like all other people, am but a sinner; I am but a person whose faith is still shaky sometimes; I am a person who sometimes doubts Him; a person who sometimes does not acknowledge Him. And He allowed Himself to die on the cross to save me? to save us? Wow! It’s a big, big wow! Moments after I asked myself that question, I was enlightened right away. The answer was in one of the songs that is usually used during Lingkod Cebu’s prayer meetings entitled ‘How Great is Your Love’ by Mark Altrogge. The second stanza of the song says:
“For everyone who has believed.
You brought us near
And called us Your own
And made us joint heirs with
That line from the song is the answer. We were made equal heirs of His own son. We are also His children, we are considered as God the Father’s own sons and daughters. Thus, having Him acknowledge us as His own is enough reason to accept and experience the great love only Him can give. With that, I was instantly overwhelmed with God’s great love. And so, I was lead to appreciating my life even more. I was suddenly enlightened and overwhelmed with all the blessings He’s been granting me daily since before, yet I fail to recognize. On that very moment, I was thankful and appreciative that He granted me another day to live with all my senses still intact! I was and still am thankful I still have the ability to see clearly the things around me, I could still hear, touch and taste, I still have the capacity to feel, connect and relate with people around me, I still have my family, friends and office mates, I still have my job, I’m provided with air to breath, food and water; those random people and instances He puts in my life for me to know a thing or two; I also realized that He was there with me during all the tiring times of my life, Im most thankful of Him for that. My list of the blessings and graces He granted me could still go on, I believe it’s never ending, but my point is, during the retreat I realized how blessed I am with every detail the Lord passionately puts into my life to make it colorful.
The recollection was truly a timely activity for me. The week before that, I was actually feeling down without a particular reason at all. All I know was I was feeling sad and I was longing for a certain connection with the Lord. I was trying to feel Him during my prayer time yet it seems that I just can’t, seems that He was not around. And during the recollection, my longing for that certain connection with the Lord was answered through our retreat master when he mentioned a passage from 1 Kings 19:11-12 saying the Lord was not in the storm, not in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the whisper of a gentle breeze. I was struck upon hearing it that I realized I have to be still for a moment and allow the Lord to speak to me in my stillness, I was searching Him probably the wrong way, for during my prayer times I didn’t allow myself to listen to Him. And so upon hearing that passage, I closed my eyes and looked back to what had happened in my life. Scenes of my life began to flash in my mind, highlighting all the challenging times I went through together with my family. Those challenges includes financial difficulty that our family started to experience way before I even finished elementary schooling and we continued to carry up until I was in college. And during those times I could say that the Lord was with us, the Lord helped us get through all the hardships our family went through. He was already with me way before I started searching for Him. All those challenges we went through, no matter how hard, were all that we needed to experience for a reason that He best knows. And so before the retreat ended I sensed the Lord answering my longing of Him by telling me, ‘Wake up! I am with you all along. You may not know, you may not notice, but I am always here. Allow my plans to be revealed in my own time. Surrender yourself to me and I will take care of you as I always did.’ It was such an overwhelming experience to finally realize the Lord is with me all along even before I cared to seek help from Him and built a personal relationship with Him.
In conclusion, I’d like to share few more important points I was reminded of during the retreat. They are as follows:
1. Jesus humbled Himself to be the Lamb of God out of obedience and love of the Father.
2. Obedience comes with total surrender, that includes everything in life from dreams, plans, finances, responsibilities, worries, and even sin.
3. Being a leader, or a shepherd to a flock should be done out of obedience and out of love.
(All photos in this post are by MISS TJANE)