adopt­ing the lamb

You cannot adopt Christ as your own on your own. You must adopt Him when you are a part of a family, a Church. Do not just go to church. Become one with your local church. His Salvation of you will grow the more you belong to a church.

Four Days

A friend of mine mentioned this passage in Bible Study and I thought it was pretty cool. Before the Passover, God gave Israel a command that seems curious when we examine it closely. In Exodus 12:1-6, God tells them to sacrifice a lamb and later He tells them to put the blood of the lamb on their door so that the judgment of God, the angel of death, would pass over their household. This act of smearing the blood is strange enough. But what is really strange is what God says they should do with the lamb before the sacrifice. Notice in verse 3, He said that they should take the lamb on the 10th day and keep it. Yet the sacrifice doesn’t happen until the 14th day in verse 6. Also notice that it is not one lamb for one person. Instead it is one lamb for one family. What is the point then of keeping the lamb for another four days? Why isn’t it one lamb for one person? Why wasn’t it one lamb for the whole of Israel? Why is it one lamb for a small group within the larger group of Israel?

Well, we began to talk about this in the last article. The lamb was kept for four days to allow time for bonding and the creation of community between the family and the lamb. The lamb was to become a part of the family so that the death of the lamb could become the death of the family. The lamb has to spend time with and become a part of the community before the death of the lamb could become the death of the community. For this reason, Christ came to spend time with us. So that when He died, we could die with Him.

Only those who know Jesus Christ (See Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments) and are in union with His Community can mourn over His death and die with Him on the cross Gal 2:20. Only those who die with Him can rise with Him Rom 6:5, 2 Tim 2:11-12. Only those who die with Him can die to their sin Col 3:1-5, Rom 8:11-13.

One Family

However, the death of the lamb could not only be communal. It also had to be deeply relational and individual. Yet, the sacrifice could not also only be purely individual. This is part of why God said one lamb for one family because the family is the smallest unit of community. If it was one lamb for all of Israel, then the sacrifice is no longer personal. Not everyone will get to know the lamb personally and not everyone would be touched by the sacrifice of the lamb.

Yet if it is only one lamb for one person, then the grief becomes too personal and too narrow. Grief is an odd thing. It can only exist when it is personal but it can only grow when it is shared. The more people personally experience the grief of a death, the larger and more textured the grief becomes and the deeper the death of both the individual and the community. When death occurs in the community, the community not only dies but every member of the community dies in a different way. Each person had a different relationship with the one who died and so their experience of that death will also be different. Therefore, I do not only die my own death through the loss of the one loved. No, within a community, I also die in all the different ways every member of community died because each of them has also lost this loved one.

The father grieves over himself because part of him died when he sacrificed the lamb. Yet he also grieves over his daughter because a part of her died when this lamb died. And he also grieves because he will never see that same love in the eyes of his son because this lamb was slain. And in such a way grief grows in size when it is felt and reflected in the hearts of many people. This is the foundation of what Paul calls growing into the fullness of Jesus Christ Ephesians 4:11-14 since His first gift to men was His Death on the Cross.

So a personal grief would be too small to reflect the magnitude of the lamb that was slain. But if the number of people in the community is too large, then death of the lamb would not touch everyone in the community since there would not have been enough time to actually get to know the lamb. The grief has to be personal so that it might be born but it also has to be communal so that it might mature.

Rejecting The Lamb

Yet the union of the lamb with the family also has another and quite opposite effect. As the day of sacrifice grows nearer, each member of the will often begin to distance themselves from the lamb. They know the lamb is marked for sacrifice and with each passing day, the day of sacrifice grows closer. They know the grief they will feel if they allow themselves to get too close. They begin to create more emotional distance so that the shock of the loss will be less. In fact, it may come to a point that by the fourth day, they strive to feel nothing for the lamb so as to shield themselves emotionally from the death of this lamb.

Yes the lamb must die but the grief would be too personal and unbearable if they attached themselves too personally to the lamb. For this reason the disciples ran from Jesus Mark 14:50. Yet we must remember the words of Solomon who said it is better to go to a funeral than to a party. At a funeral, you might learn a few things Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 among them being this thing he called “gladness of heart”. And so the more distant you are from the Lamb that was slain, the less gladness of heart you will learn at His funeral and the less joy you will experience at His Resurrection. How far away are you from the lamb? How much have you shielded yourself emotionally from His Death? Is the Cross a raw wound in your soul or like a false prophet, have you healed yourself lightly Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11 by creating emotional distance between yourself and the Lamb?

The easiest way to create this emotional distance is to avoid the community of believers or to avoid going to church. By doing this, though you may be a Christian, your grief over the cross, your sorrow over your sin becomes too personal, too small and remains weak. This is because, as we have said, grief only grows as it is reflected in the hearts of those who also mourn His Death and mourn their sins that drove Him there. So also, your joy becomes too personal, too small and weak. This is because joy, like grief, also only grows when you can see other hearts leaping because of His Resurrection. I’ve heard many Christians say they don’t have to be part of a church community. But I hope the above shows I can only truly grieve over my sin and rejoice over my salvation in Christ, when I am part of a church community. In fact, choosing to not be part of a Christian community degrades my Christian life so much, that I should begin to wonder if I am a Christian at all. The first step of being part of a church community is this: Go to Church!

A weak grief at the cross means a greater love for sin. A small joy over His Resurrection means a greater joy and love for the world. So Paul is right to say we can only grow into the full knowledge of Christ together. Let us not forget the warning of John concerning a love for the world 1 John 2:15-17. So do not weep at the Cross alone. Weep and mourn with your brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. And do not rejoice about His Resurrection alone. Rejoice with brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. So that your grief may become full and your joy as well John 15:10-12.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that per­tain to life and god­li­ness, through the knowl­edge of him who called us to his own glory and excel­lence”
- 2 Peter 1:3

Wanna reach out and ask me some ques­tions? Or do you want clar­i­fi­ca­tion on some­thing writ­ten here? If so, write me a let­ter. I’d love to hear from you and I’ll respond. I bet your hon­est ques­tion will pro­duce insights that will ben­e­fit other read­ers.