Follow the Lamb

God is patient.  750 years go by after Isaiah was singing his song about a Prince of Peace,  about Zebulun and Naphtali, about the land of Gentiles in Galilee seeing a Great Light.  Seven and a half centuries roll by, and we come to Matthew chapter 4.
“Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.””  Matthew‬ ‭4:12-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  So here’s this Zebulun and Naphtali region around the Sea of Galilee.  The region of Gentiles, the region of war, the region of darkness, the region of battles, the region of death.  It’s not famous for anything.  But the prophet says someday it’s going to be famous, someday it’s going to be glorious, someday everybody’s going to hear about Galilee.  Because there a light is going to begin to shine.  The world has been stuck in darkness and death, but a light is going to shine.
Sure enough, Jesus comes, and He moves from Nazareth into the region of Zebulun and Naphtali by Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee, and there he begins to preach.  He says, “Hey everybody!!!  We need to rethink everything!  The Government of God is about to break in among us!!  God wants to come!  God wants to be King!  God wants to heal us!  God wants to save us!  God wants to bring us out of the darkness!  Now, rethink everything and believe this Good News!” And so we have…
“”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:3-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  And Jesus is off and running, announcing the Kingdom of Heaven, and three years go by.
Now we skip to Matthew 26.  Jesus has been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He’s been brought before the council for a late night investigation.  The council is assembled, the high priest is in charge.  Jesus is remaining silent, he’s not responding to their questions.  Finally Caiaphas loses his patience and says “We’re going to get to the bottom of this,”
“But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.””  Matthew‬ ‭26:63-64 ESV.  In other words, Caiaphas has gotten fed up and asks directly, Are you the Messiah?  Are you the King, Are you the Christ?  Are you the Son of God?    To which Jesus says “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Matthew‬ ‭26:65 ESV.   It’s as you say.  But I’ll tell you something. Remember that stuff in the book of Daniel, about the Son of Man who comes up to the Ancient of Days?  He comes up to the power of God and is given dominion over al the nations?  I’m telling you Caiaphas, from NOW ON you’re going to see that coming to pass.  

Notice what Jesus does not say.  He doesn’t say Caiaphas, 2000 years from now some of this will come true.  No.  He says from now on, you are going to see the Son of Man begin his reign.  From now on.  Because the Son of Man becomes King in his death, burial, resurrection, and his ascension to the right hand of the Father, who gives him dominion over all of the nations….This is what we as Christians confess and believe.  THAT’S what we mean when we call Jesus king.
The reign of the Prince of Peace, the rule of the Son of Man has begun.  That leaves humanity with a choice, because God is patient.  There are two ways to shape the world.  Both will shape the world.  Both have shaped the world.  The way of Alexander the Great, and the way of Jesus of Nazareth.  They will both shape the world.  But they are very different from one another.
We are most familiar with the way of Alexander the Great, the way of force.  We will send out our armies, and make the world the way we want.  That’s one way of shaping the world, the way of the great goat.  But, there is another way.
There is the way of Jesus of Nazareth, who also used crucifixion to establish his empire.  But he didn’t crucify 2000 of his enemies.  He allowed Himself to be crucified, and said Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.   There are two ways of shaping the world.  The way of Alexander the Great, the way of the great goat.  Or the way of Jesus of Nazareth, the slain lamb.
Which way will we believe in?  Which way will we choose?  Which king will we follow, Alexander or Jesus?  The goat or the lamb?
Back to the opening text from a couple messages ago.  “The goat became very powerful. But at the height of his power, his large horn was broken off….The shaggy male goat represents the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king of the Greek Empire.”   (Alexander the Great) Daniel‬ ‭8:8, 21‬ NLT.    Now from Revelation. “And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭5:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  Look, a lion!  No, it’s a lamb!!   Notice what John is doing.  The great goat has one great horn, that is Alexander the Great, then when Alexander became great at the age of 32 he was broken, and that’s it.  John says My king has 7 horns!  Not one is broken!  He’s got 7 eyes!  Alexander was depicted in painting with very large eyes, signaling wisdom.  Well, my king’s got 7 eyes, he’s 7 times wiser than yours!  I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.   John, like Daniel, has been caught up to the court of heaven.  John is seeing the same thing Daniel saw, the unfolding of history.  Ever notice Revelation has all these monsters?  It’s one monstrous beast after another.  It’s dragons, monsters coming from the sea, and out of the earth, and out of the abyss.  All these evil empires that are bringing all this sorrow and  pain and suffering and oppression upon the people of the earth.  John begins to weep, I can’t stand it anymore.  Is it always just going to be the same old, same old?   But  then an elder says, no, look, the lion of the tribe of Judah!  That’s the king, the lion, the king of Israel, the Jewish Messiah, who has conquered.   

And John looks, and there’s no lion.  Just a little lamb.  And the lamb has been slain but he’s still standing.  He has seven eyes and seven horns.  The way of Alexander the Great, and all those who imitate him, is to shed the blood of your enemies.  The way of the lamb is to shed your own blood.  He’s called a lion because he is the king, but he’s not like a lion, he’s like a lamb.  But he brings the Kingdom of God.  The great empires they bring their kingdoms, and they say it’s from  God.  It’s not.  It’s from the devil.  

But Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, he brings the reign and government and rule of God.  He brings it as a lamb who is slain, but standing tall.  The call goes forth to follow the lamb.  “It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb…” Revelation‬ ‭14:4-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  We do not follow the great goat.  We follow the lamb who is slain yet standing tall, Jesus Christ.  He began his ministry in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, by the Sea of Galilee.  He begins it like this – Peter, Andrew, follow me.  James, John, come on, follow me.   He continues to build his kingdom the same way.  He comes every advent and says come on.   He calls you by name and says follow me.  Don’t follow the great goat, follow me.

John Lewis

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