Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.


Sunday 19th January 2020
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 49: 3-6     1 Corinthians 1: 1-3     John 1: 29-34

The Lamb of God.

The image of a lamb can be confusing. We conjure up warm and cosy pictures of a small fluffy creature, perhaps frolicking and jumping in a green field in the sun. We even think of the lamb as a pet. And everywhere that Mary went… And certain types of hymns and songs play on this strange image. So Jesus is presented in a meek and mild fashion, as tame as a pet. Yet when we look at his life it is very hard to find any evidence to support this vision of him.

Perhaps what lambs represent most of all is innocence. We see them as helpless and without blemish. In the Old Testament the lamb was used as a sacrificial victim to God. It was clean and therefore acceptable in God’s eyes. It was the Passover lamb that signified God’s acceptance of the Jewish people’s cry for freedom. So before long we begin to hear of a person who will fulfil this role of lamb on behalf of the people. He is called the Suffering Servant, someone who will come and take on the ills of the nation, be led to terrible suffering and trials, and then be slaughtered like a lamb in expiation for the sins of the people. He will be like a lamb led to slaughter.

This would be ringing in the ears of some of the crowd when John the Baptist pointed out Jesus. He had already preached that someone important was coming; someone he was unworthy even to help fasten his shoes. And now he fingers Jesus as that person. When John calls Jesus the Lamb of God, he is hinting at what they have heard about the Suffering Servant and he is tapping into that yearning they had for the Messiah, someone who would come from God to set up a new kingdom, freeing them from oppression.

John’s words, then, were exciting. This is him… this is the one we’ve been waiting for… this is the one who will take away the sins of the world. Within three years Jesus would be led away like a lamb to the slaughter. But his death would prove to be a turning point, a victory over the forces of evil and death. Then the New Testament would see visions of heaven where the lamb was sitting on a throne in glory… the triumphant Lamb of God.