As I was praying about this blog, I knew that the sacrifice that God made in sending His Son to die on the cross for us would have to come in at some point. It turns out that has been a large part of the entire series. When I was searching for the words to the song, “Vicit Agnus Noster” (listen below), I came across this blog. This song is a beautiful testament of what God did. God provided the lamb for us. But the devotional by Michael Card who wrote the song touched my heart and I knew it had to be shared here. See the entire blog by using the link above. The following devotional is quite lengthy, but is well worth the read. I pray it touches your heart as it did mine.
(vicit agnus noster eum sequamur is an ancient Latin motto which means, “our Lamb has conquered, Him let us follow.”)
Should the motto not read, “vicit leo noster eum sequamur,” “our Lion has conquered, Him let us follow?” What is the meaning of the motto as it stands? “Our Lamb has conquered.” How is it that we have come to follow One who is predominantly represented as a lamb? Where does the paradox come from that teaches weakness is strength, defeat is victory and poverty wealth? The paradox is rooted in this disturbing image of the conquering Lamb.
Throughout most of the Bible He is not the lamb who conquers, but the one who is Himself conquered. In the Old Testament the lamb is the helpless, innocent substitute and sacrifice. It is slain to be consumed. Its’ blood is splattered on the doorposts to mark the homes of the faithful so that the angel of death will ‘Passover'(Ex.12). The Old Testament lamb is victim not victor.
Likewise, throughout most of the New Testament, when the Lamb of God appears He seems the most unlikely candidate to conquer. He is born in a stable, like a lamb. He is first recognized by shepherds who themselves have just come from the fields and the birthing of other lambs. Except for a couple of incidents, primarily at the Temple when His “lionish” side surfaces, He is the innocent even weak lamb. He is finally apprehended at Passover and slain precisely during the three hour period when the other Passover lambs are being sacrificed, his own forsaken cries echoing together with the helpless bleating of those other sacrificial lambs. According to exact ritual observance the bones of the Lamb are not broken in the sacrificial process, ironically by two soldiers who couldn’t have cared less about ritual observance (Jn.19:31-36). And even as the other lambs are eaten so He had earlier instructed His disciples to consume the bread that was His body. At the moment of His resurrection, when we might expect to hear the roaring of the Lion of Judah, we instead hear nothing but the confused shouts of the women witnesses, whose testimony would have been unacceptable in their own society.
It is not until the close of the New Testament in the book of Revelation that the Conquering Lamb appears. Though still portrayed as being slain, He is yet the One who has conquered.
In the first scene in chapter 5 John is standing amongst a great crowd witnessing an angel flying about with a scroll which no one, it seems, is worthy to open. So caught up is John in the vision that he begins to weep. He understands that if the scroll is not opened history itself cannot unfold.
Then one of the elders standing alongside John in the midst of the great crowd says to him, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah… has triumphed…!” “The Lion” says the elder. So John looks up, blinking back the tears expecting to see just that. But what does he see?
“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain…” John sees not a lion but a lamb, a triumphant Lamb, sitting on a throne. The unfolding of the image of the conquering Lamb has begun.
The second scene is from chapter 17. John has been transported to the desert where he sees a woman, a prostitute, astride a detestable scarlet beast. A conflict is about to erupt between her dark forces and the Lamb.
v.14 “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is King of kings and Lord of lords- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
The final scene, in chapter 19, takes place amidst the roaring sound of a great multitude in heaven. It is the long-awaited marriage supper of the Lamb, the final consummation of a romance that will last forever between the Lamb and His followers, His Bride. The context is exultant worship. The opening words of the thundering multitude “Hallelujah!” The conquering Lamb is finally wed. History has come to full blossom. It is the Kingdom. It is heaven.
Christmas, the celebration of the first Coming of the Lamb, looks back to the humble stable and the simple shepherds. The setting is a dark, fallen world. He has come to expose through his weakness the impotence of what the world calls power. He has come to show us that it is we who are upside down.
In that sense, Christmas is a preparation for the celebration that will be the second Coming of the Lamb triumphant. The contrast between the settings of the two Comings could not be more extreme. Instead of a silent stable and a bunch of motley shepherds, there will be a resplendent multitude whose praise can only be described as a “roar.”