Ninety-nine Sheep

ninety nine sheep

Looking at the grace of God, a grace which surpasses all human understanding and comprehension.  A grace which just makes no sense to us, because the only ways we can understand are the ways of our world, the ways we have learned and lived our whole lives.  Consider this story of a shepherd and a particular lost sheep.

Lost-Sheep

“”What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:4-7 ESV

open country

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time getting this one.  It seems simple enough, but when I really consider it, what about those other ninety-nine sheep?   Jesus tells us this man (God the Father) would leave ninety-nine sheep in the open country to chase after this one fool sheep who wanders away.   In the open countryunprotected, there would be thieves, wolves, and any number of other threats.  More could simply wander off.  What if he comes back with this one lost sheep, celebrating and thanking God, and twenty more are missing?  Then what?

wolves_at_2

It makes no sense to us (at least me) because I am too busy counting. I like to know I’m doing the right thing, making the right decision.  So why would I leave ninety-nine perfectly good sheep vulnerable to attack, unprotected, to go chasing after one scoundrel who never should have wandered off in the first place?   In trying to win back this one little sheep, I’m not going to risk losing any of my good sheep.

Name in 3D coloured lights

But here’s the thing about God and his grace – if you’re busy counting, doing the math, you’ve missed the whole point.  In the words of Philip Yancey in his book What’s so Amazing About Grace?, “Grace is not about finishing last or first; it is about not counting.”   God’s grace is a free gift, not something we can ever earn.

healthy people

God’s not doing the math.  God is not about making sure we have done ten more good things that bad things in our life so we can then somehow be found worthy of his love.  God is not even about distinguishing “bad” from “good”.  (What was that tree Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat from in the garden?)  If he were, he had ninety-nine perfectly “good” little sheep and would never have left them to chase after that one “bad” sheep.   But, as Jesus also says, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”” Luke 5:32 ESV.  That one lost sheep is the whole reason Jesus ever came…

grace2

God did not come to us in the form of Christ Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, because of how righteous we are.  He came to chase us down because we are all his lost sheep.  He comes out of heaven, walks with us on earth, joins us in our mess which we have made, and guides us back.   He is gathering his flock.  If we have been brought back into the fold, now we get to join Jesus in chasing down the rest of those lost sheep.  We are out in the open country, there are wolves watching and waiting.  If we are just standing still, how easy will it be for the wolves to pick us off?

jesus searching

So we don’t stand still.  We join Jesus in his search.  In our search, we draw closer to Him, we become more like Him.  As we become more like Him, we too begin to stop counting.  We too begin to see the value of one lost sheep.  We too will leave ninety-nine in open country to chase the one who has strayed.

harvest is plenty

There are so many lost sheep.  So many that, as Jesus tells us, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2 ESV.   If you are that lost sheep, Jesus will not rest until he has tracked you down.  He’s come all the way from heaven to find you.  If you’re one of those ninety-nine in the open country, the wolves are watching and waiting for their chance to strike.   Quit standing still, go with Jesus, and find that lost sheep He is looking for.

John Lewis

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A Prophet in His Hometown

prophet in his hometown.jpg

Back into Luke today.  After his baptism and testing in the wilderness, Jesus returns to Galilee.   He begins to preach throughout Galilee, especially around Capernaum.  After a few weeks, he finally returns to his hometown of Nazareth.  On the sabbath day he stands in the synagogue to read.

JesSynagog

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 

scripture fulfilled

This is very dramatic.  Luke presents it in a very dramatic way.  News about Jesus had been spreading.  News about Jesus had come to Nazareth well before his homecoming.  Rumor was that he might be the One, the Messiah, the liberating king.  This news was well received in Nazareth.   For the backwoods town of Nazareth to have its own hometown boy actually be the chosen king, how big would that be?

So the hometown boy they’ve heard so much about has finally returned.  As is his custom, he is in the synagogue.  He stands to read, is handed the scroll of Isaiah, and reads the passage about Messiah and the year of the lords favor.  It is a very familiar passage in that synagogue.

Jesus-in-Synagogue

And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth – yes, it’s what you’re thinking.  Yes, I am Messiah.  I am the one.  Jesus gives a thinly veiled acknowledgement that, yes, he is the Messiah.  This was very well received, they were all speaking well of him, there was much excitement in the air.

throw jesus from a cliff

But within an hour, before the day was over, the people of Jesus’ own hometown would try to throw him off a cliff.  These same people in the synagogue, who know Jesus and Jesus knows them, who are speaking so well of him and marveling at the gracious words he is saying, will turn on Jesus and try to throw him off a cliff.  Why the quick change??

spirit of the lord is upon me

There is a hint of why they change tone so quickly in how Jesus reads the passage from Isaiah 61.    The full passage reads “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord ‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God…” Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV.  Jesus stopped mid sentence.  He didn’t finish the sentence.  Jesus omits the part of about the vengeance of our god.   They didn’t get that, they missed it, but it was a hint at what going to go wrong.

vengeanceof god

What was Jesus saying in not saying something?  He’s saying – I’m going to proclaim the favor of god, but not the vengeance of god.  Notice how Isaiah 61 says it-  the day of vengeance of our God…  The implication is clear.  God is on our side.  He’s going to take vengeance, but not on us. He’s going to take vengeance on those who don’t have our god.  The dominant vision of Messiah was that of a payback messiah. Messiah was to be an agent of God’s payback, God’s smack down, God’s vengeance.

We have in American culture, mainly through cinema, the ingrained concept of hero justice.  Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Bruce Willis, Matt Damon, and the rest.  They come riding onto the scene with payback, they turn the tables, they get vengeance, set things straight, and smack down those who need smacking down.  We get excited over this, we will pay good money to see this storyline time and again.  We believe in payback…

judah macabbee

Two hundred years before earlier, about 167 BC, the Jewish people were oppressed by the Greek Syrians.  They were forcing the Jewish people to become Hellenistic, to adopt Greek culture.  They were being forced to do things like sacrifice pigs, eat pork, etc.  There was at the time a righteous priest named Mattathias from Modi’in who resisted and was executed.   As he was being executed, he cries out You shall rally around you all who observe the law, and avenge the wrong done to your people.  1 Maccabees 2:67

His son Judah was there, heard the cry of his father for vengeance, and led a revolution.   Judah brought the hammer down on those Greek Syrians, and earned the nickname “Judah the Hammer”, or as he’s known to history, Judah Maccabaeus.   “The  Hammer” brought the hammer, and in so doing became the prototype of Messiah.  This is what messiah would,  could, and should do, be another greater Judah Maccabaeus , and exact the vengeance of our god.
Judah-Maccabee

Judah Maccabaeus was a national hero.  They celebrated holidays in his name.  They felt about him much as we Americans feel about George Washington.

Fast forward again two hundred years.  The gentile Greek Syrians still lived about forty miles north of Nazareth.  The Jews still hated them.  And so these in Jesus’ hometown, how they longed for the day of the vengeance of our god against those Gentiles.

Jesus had grown up with these people, he knew the people in Nazareth. He really knew them.  He knew how they felt.  He knew they were good people, but he also knew how they hated.   He knew the nationalistic vision of their god.  He knew how they hated their enemies, and how they wanted messiah to once again bring the hammer down.

But Jesus was not just Messiah,  but also a  prophet.  He’s a prophet speaking to his own hometown, and that’s hard.

2nd temptation

And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘”Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 

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Jesus knew they wanted to see miracles, to do tricks, to show them who he was.  But he’s already overcome that  second temptation, the temptation to spectacle.

Jesus didn’t want to do tricks or perform miracles on demand in his hometown.  He does want to speak as a prophet.  But he knows it’s almost impossible to be a prophet to his hometown.  Why?   Because the prophet always challenges us versus them thinking.  So when the hometown hears one of their own challenging the idea that god is on our side, they will turn.  Watch how Jesus speaks to them…

Elijah

But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

Jesus rehashes and repeats two stories from the Old Testament, one from Elijah and one from Elisha.  These are two miracles by God from two of the most beloved prophets from the Hebrew Scriptures.  Two miracles, not for Jews but for Gentiles.  Even a miracle for the general of Syrian army, the leader of those who had brought great harm upon the Jewish people.

Naaman the Syrian

Specifically, these two Gentiles were from the same people the great national hero Judah Maccabaeus had brought the hammer down upon, the Greek Syrians.   They are waiting for Jesus to do the same.  But in reading his job description this day in the synagogue, Jesus leaves out the vengeance

In their lust for revenge Jesus refuses to cooperate.  Jesus is revealing that God is not vengeful.  We think God is vengeful against people we want to be vengeful against.  But God doesn’t want to take the hammer to or take vengeance upon our enemies, he wants to bless them, he wants to heal them, he wants to show them favor…

gods-wrath

This is like telling crusaders, God is on the side of Muslims too.  Or telling 1950’s Americans that God on side of those Russians too.  Or telling Israeli’s that God on side of Palestinians, too.  Or telling 2018 Americans that God is in the side of all those immigrants, refugees, maybe even on the side of ISIS…

This is very radical, even dangerous.  How dangerous?  All are filled with wrath

When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.

After this episode, Jesus speaks in parables for the rest of his ministry.  Until, of course, he speaks openly again in the last week of his ministry and gets himself killed.

The easiest way to produce unity and sense of belonging among people is to share a common enemy, a common hatred.  To revile a common enemy and believe god hates them because we hate them.  The easiest way to unite a people is to share a common vengeance.

Why was Jesus attacked by his hometown?  Because he broke with solidarity of “us versus them”.  Their solidarity was that we are the people who hate those people up north.  We celebrate  holidays of the man who brought the hammer down.   We can’t wait for God to bring the hammer down again.  They believed in a just God, a God who would make all things right.   They believed that part of making things right had to include bringing the hammer down on those Gentiles up north.  They believed in a payback Messiah.  They believed in the vengeance of their God.

And any Messiah not interested in their bringing their vengeance was no Messiah at all.  When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘”Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.”

Luke 4:16-30 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.4.16-30.esv

John Lewis

Means and Ends

Means and Ends

Temptations-of-Jesus-2.jpgOoops, thought I had published this days ago…

After Jesus was baptized, he then was led by the spirit into the wilderness of prayer and fasting.  Jesus about to begin his ministry of announcing and enacting the kingdom of god.  During this forty days, Jesus is contemplating the nature of both his ministry and the nature of the Kingdom of God he’d be establishing.    While contemplating his ministry which would soon begin, Jesus faces three temptations.  In these temptations, Jesus was tempted to go about his ministry in the wrong way, to establish the kingdom of god on the wrong foundation.  Remember what he taught about foundations – “”Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”” Matthew 7:24-27 ESV

matthew7-25

The first temptation Jesus faced was the temptation to base the kingdom on bread.  The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”   You might say this is the liberal temptation, to merely address the material needs of mankind.  It’s a temptation to reduce the faith to a socioeconomic agenda.  These things need to be addressed, but Jesus saw it as a temptation to simply address the material needs of man.  Bread is good, bread is necessary.  But people will sell their very souls for a piece of bread.  But this still leaves that God shaped hole in the middle of our soul.  With the word of god he resisted that temptation.  And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'”

man_shall_not_live_by_bread

The second temptation was the temptation to spectacle.   And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”   Just do a sign, prove who you are!!   This is the empiricist temptation, to persuade by empirical proof, to do away with faith by simply proving everything.  Jesus resisted that because he realized that was to put God to the test, And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”   He resisted that and left room for faith.

Jesus would later tell of the sign he would give – “When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”  Luke 11:29 ESV.  But in the end, even the resurrection would not be enough if a man does not want to see.  “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”” Luke 16:31 ESV

temptation-of-christ

The third temptation was to base the kingdom upon force, to compromise with the devil that he might become the world’s new emperor the way all the old emperors become emperors.  And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  This is the conservative temptation, to rule the world by violence.  To continue to do it the same way Caesar was doing it.  But Jesus resists this temptation as well.  “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”   Jesus could have been the conquering Messiah the people were waiting for.  They couldn’t wait to join his army and really strike back at those Romans.  Jesus would have used his power for good, he would have been a more righteous king.  He could have bypassed being the suffering servant and grabbed the throne through the will to power, the power to kill.  But he still would have just another king in the line of kings of the world.

End-Never-Justifies-the-Means

Notice all these temptations were based on a desire for a good end.  Jesus was not tempted with evil but he was tempted for good.  Jesus was tempted to have this as his end – to eliminate poverty, engender faith, and unite the world.  But it was  the means that were wrong.

quote-the-end-cannot-justify-the-means-for-the-simple-and-obvious-reason-that-the-means-employed-aldous-huxley-306973

Does the end justify the means?  Never.  In fact, the means are the end in the process of becoming.  Becoming more forgiving, or becoming more vengeful.   Me coming more merciful, becoming more merciless.   Becoming more Christlike, or becoming un-like Christ.  Becoming more an instrument of Christ’s love and mercy, or becoming an instrument of the Satan’s anger and vengeance.   Compromised means always results in a compromised end.  Jesus overcame the temptation to base the kingdom on bread, spectacle and force and instead set forth to proclaim the kingdom on faith hope, and love.  Instead of the conquering Messiah, he chose the route of the suffering servant.  Instead of bread, circus, and force, he chose the route of the cross for his coronation.

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Jesus is king.  Jesus was king.  Jesus came to be king.  But when the people tried to make him king by force after his feeding the five thousand, he declined.  “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” John 6:15 ESV.   When they came the next day looking for more bread, he cryptically offers instead his own flesh and blood.  “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” John 6:53-56 ESV.   Most who hear him call him crazy, and all but the most devoted followers turn away.  “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”” John 6:66-69 ESV.

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Ultimately, Jesus would be crowned king.  His means were love and forgiveness, not bullets and bombs.   His ends were love and forgiveness, not bullets and bombs.  These are hard things to understand.   Will we turn back, or continue on our walk?  Do we want to go away as well?  Or, like Peter, is our answer Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God??

withdraw1

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.”

Luke 4:1-13 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.4.1-13.esv

John Lewis

Change is Coming

Change is Coming.jpg

Been looking at the first couple chapters of Luke during advent and epiphany, today really just setting the stage for what comes next.

messiah

Beginning with the psalms, especially psalm 2 but others as well, then carried on by the prophets, there began to develop a picture of what Messiah would be.  Messiah in this case means “Mashiach”, the anointed one.  Anointed as in “to christen”, it’s actually where we get the word “Christ” from.   “Anointed one” means “Messiah” or “Mashiach” in the Hebrew, “Christ” in Greek.  Same word, two different languages.

samuel_anoints_david

In ancient times of Israel, kings were not crowned, they were anointed.  It was not a crown that signified royalty, but oil.  The prophet Samuel took a horn of oil and anointed Saul the first king of Israel.  Later, he would anoint David king.  Very specifically, Messiah means “anointed one”, as in anointed to be king.

messiah-prayer

In the psalms and prophets, there developed a five-fold expectation of what the Jewish king, the Messiah, would accomplish.  Yes, there were kings, but Israel was waiting for a special king who was going to come.  He would be like the Son of God.  He would be the coming king that would accomplish great things that would change the world.

raised on a cross

There were five overarching expectations of messiah.  However, none of these expectations went anything like this – “We are waiting for Messiah to come so he can die on a cross, be raised on the third day, so we can be saved and go to heaven when we die.”  No one thought anything close to this.  This is no where any  part of the expectation for Messiah.  The Jews, rather, derived their anticipation of messiah from the psalms and prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e. the Old Testament.

Here is the fold job description of Messiah.

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1).  Messiah would rescue Israel from the tyranny of wicked, evil empires and dictators.  Through Israel’s long history they’d often been threatened and dominated by a succession of empires and dictators.  The Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Medes, Persians, Greeks, Syrians, the Romans had all joined in on the succession of empires and dictators dominating God’s chosen people.  The expectation was that Messiah would rescue Israel from that.

rebuild the temple

2). Messiah would rebuild the temple.   The idea is that the king is closely connected with the structuring or rebuilding of the temple.  This is why Herod was so interested in greatly enlarging the temple.  Though he was king, Herod was only half Jewish.  In other words, Herod was in no way qualified to be king of Israel, but the occupying force appointed him anyway.  However, Herod was a great builder.  He was a master architect.  Maybe as an attempt to establish himself as a true king of Israel to ingratiate himself with the Jews, Herod spent 46 years rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem.  Not because he was a godly or pious man interested in religious things, but because he wanted to ingratiate himself with the Jews, and establish that maybe, just maybe, he was, after all, the true Messiah.

Righteousness-Of-God

3). Messiah would  restore righteousness.  Righteousness in the Bible can be understood as faithfulness to the covenant.  Israel had a long history of being unfaithful to covenant they had with Yahweh, this is why prophets would often refer to Israel as an unfaithful wife, an adulterous woman.  Israel was unrighteous in the sense of being unfaithful to the covenant.  One of visions of messiah is that he is an Israelite who would act righteously and lead the rest of Israel back into covenant faithfulness with Yahweh.

every knee will bow

4).   Messiah would rule over the nations. The vision is not just that Messiah would be the king of Israel, but Messiah would have a kingdom to dominate  all the other kingdoms.  Every knee would bow and every tongue confess Israel’s true king as Messiah.  His would be the one world government to overcome all the other governments.

Habakkuk2

5).  Messiah would reveal God to the Gentiles.  Not just any God, the the God of Israel, Yahweh, the one true God.  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Only Israel worships Yahweh.  The rest of the nations had a myriad of gods.  Messiah would make the God of Israel famous.  Gentiles would turn away from Zeus, Baal, Mars, Apollion.  Knowledge of Yahweh would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Jews-and-Gentiles-in-the-Gospels-2

So we see that Messiah had a big job description.  He was to rescue Israel, restore righteousness, rebuild the temple, rule over the nations, and reveal God to the Gentiles.

saint-john-the-baptist-and-jesus

Luke opens his gospel with the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. We also see many signs, Zechariah’s prophecy, Mary’s Magnificat, the angelic announcement to the shepherds, the temple prophecies of Simeon and Anna, all these things indicating the long awaiting king is about to appear.

They’ve been waiting for a thousand years for this very special king to come.   Now we have a great rush of activity.   The birth of the two babies, all the signs, the flight to Egypt recorded in Matthew.   Then all goes quiet again for about thirty years.  John and Jesus have to grow up.

St_John_the_Baptist_in_the_Wilderness_Museum_Lazaro_Galdano_Madrid

When we next see John, he is living out in wilderness.  This is in itself is significant.  John is the son of Zechariah.  His father is a Levite, a priest.  The way things work, John is supposed to be a priest, he’s supposed to follow his father in his priestly calling.  Yet John lives his lone, ascetic lifestyle.  There is a form of protest in this.  There is much we don’t get to see in the story as it is given to us.  Is his father Zechariah disappointed in John for not living into the family tradition?   Is John protesting the temple and priesthood?  Is he declaring in his minimalist lifestyle out in the wilderness that the temple is corrupt and he just won’t be a part of it??   I think this is exactly what he is doing…

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Jesus is living in Nazareth as the son of a carpenter. Everything is waiting.  Israel’s waited a thousand years, so much happened, then it grew quiet again, all is now waiting, waiting.  Then Luke Chapter three comes, and as we might say in the twenty first century, it’s on!!  Beginning Luke chapter three, things are happening.  What happens next is most important stuff to ever happen in the history of the world.   After a thousand years of waiting, thirty years after these two babies are born, the world is about to be changed forever.

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'””

Luke 3:1-6 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.3.1-6.esv

John Lewis

The Winds Will Blow…

wind-blowing.jpg

A short meditation on some prophecies of Jesus and the fall of Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70.

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“”Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”” Matthew 7:24-27 ESV.   This, again, is the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.   This is timeless truth for all believers.  We will either listen to the words of Jesus Christ and respond appropriately to the Son of God as Savior of the World (and our own personal Messiah), or we will not.  We will either learn to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength in such a way that it will be manifested in loving our neighbors as ourselves, or we will not.   We will either believe in Jesus’ ethics of mercy and justice or we will not.  We will choose to live here and now in and for the Kingdom of God which Jesus announced and enacted, or we will not.  We will build our houses upon the rock of Jesus Christ the cornerstone, or we will build it upon shifting sand, and when the floods come we will be swept away.

Destruction of Jerusalem Temple

Jesus, during his life and ministry on earth, had pronounced judgment upon the corrupt temple in Jerusalem.  Though it clung to a form of ritualistic godliness, the Jews there had forgotten the ethics of the God of mercy and justice.  The ethics of the Kingdom of God as pronounced by Jesus Christ, the same ethics which were always to define their covenantal identity.  The result?   In AD 70, 40 years after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Jerusalem temple fell in the Roman Jewish War, a fall of catastrophic proportions.   …And great was the fall of it.

fall-of-Jerusalem-70-AD

The significance of the fall of the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70 can not be overstated.   Jesus had repeatedly warned that if Israel continued to define the Kingdom of God in nationalistic terms and seeing it as coming through their own violent revolutions, the result would be disastrous.   Forty years after his own crucifixion, all that Jesus foretold concerning the temple happened.

jesus-weeping-over-jerusalem

“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”” Luke 19:41-44 ESV

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“”But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:20-24 ESV

“And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”” Luke 23:26-31 ESV.

Along with his own resurrection, the second primary way Jesus’ life and teachings are vindicated was the fulfillment of his numerous warnings that because they had rejected the peaceful ways of their Messiah, Jerusalem and its temple would be destroyed.

on this rock

Jesus vision on earth was the establishment of a new kind of kingdom and the construction of a new kind of temple.  This vision was to be carried out through what Jesus was building – “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 ESV.  In AD 70, Herod’s temple came to an end.   But the new temple Jesus was building lives on.   This is the temple “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,” Ephesians 2:20 ESV.  If we as the church take seriously the teachings of our Christ, we will always be that shelter from the storm around us.  If we do not, the rains will fall, the winds will blow, and great will be the fall of our house.

John Lewis

A Little Shelter

Writing today about our God, who is so vast and so overwhelming that we can only describe and attempt to understand him through the use of metaphor.  There really is no other way.  We talk about God in metaphor, but even that does not satisfy, so we have multiple metaphors we use, which at least can get us close to understand the power, majesty and grace of the God of the universe.

One of our favorite metaphors, it seems, is the military metaphor.  We American Christians do seem to love to refer to ourselves as “soldiers of the Lord”, we love to describe our bibles as “swords” we are carrying into our great battle.  We love the picture of Christ in Revelation with the sword coming from his mouth – “In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.”  Revelation 1:16 ESV.   We love to envision this Christ who returns, chopping down all those sinners with that sword (all those other sinners, that is).   As the writer of Hebrews told us “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 ESV.  As a sinner who’s been chopped down by the word of God, slain in heart by the one the one who judges the living and the dead, so that I could come to faith and be baptized into the resurrection kind of life, this metaphor does have its place.

BUT, maybe this is not the best metaphor for us to use as we go into the world.   Maybe as “soldiers for Christ” we are carrying an us vs them attitude into the world.  In our current culture war climate, maybe this is just not the best way for us (or them) to see ourselves.  Many outside the church don’t understand this metaphor and even feel threatened by it.  As “soldiers for Christ”, we seem as though it’s us against the world.  And they are the world.  It’s just too easy for this metaphor to be misunderstood and misused by those outside both by those outside and those inside the church.   Why not focus on being the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the city on a hill, the temple of the Lord, the vineyard and branches of God.

Or how about the metaphor Jesus uses in closing his Sermon on the Mount?   “”Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”” Matthew 7:24-27 ESV.   This metaphor which Jesus gives at the end of his masterpiece sermon is especially helpful and hopeful for us if we are interested in reimagining the church in a new and more attractive way.  It’s the metaphor of a shelter from the storm.

Jesus did not invent this metaphor.   Instead, he is taking this metaphor straight from Isaiah, where Jesus took so much of his self awareness and self understanding from.  Three different times Isaiah uses this “shelter from the storm metaphor as he looks forward to Messiah.

“In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.” Isaiah 4:2-6 ESV.   Isaiah sees Zion in the age of Messiah, at the coming of Christ, as a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.   A safe place for those weathering the storm to come looking for shelter…

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the foreigners’ palace is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, like heat in a dry place. You subdue the noise of the foreigners; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down.”  Isaiah 25:1-5 ESV.  God’s care for the poor and needy will be a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.   Yahweh has always been especially interested in the care of those for whom the world does not care, in giving shelter to those who can provide none of their own.

“Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:1-2 ESV.  The king will reign in righteousness and rule in justice.  And one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess and bless our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Eight centuries before Jesus, Isaiah used the language of a shelter from the storm.   Jesus would understand the kingdom of a God as Isaiah understood the coming of Messiah – a shelter from the storm.   The storm is all around us.  It seems we can run, but we can’t hide.  We live in the world of the 24 hour news cycle, a world where everyone has chosen sides and every bad thing that happens is their fault.  It doesn’t matter who they are, all that matters is that it’s not our fault.

In this polarized world in which we live, entrenched in our “us vs them” standoffs, the church as a shelter from the storm is far more appealing than storm-troopers for Jesus, or soldiers for Christ.  The world is entrenched in battle formations.  When we invite people to church, is it just another invitation to battle?  Is the invitation “We are in a huge battle, come fight on our side!”   How attractive is that?   Do people really want more conflict in their lives?   Or – have they already have enough of that?

Isaiah’s – and Jesus’- invitation is much better.  I’m reminded of the old 80s hair band song “We all need a little shelter”.  Our world is beaten down, pounded by the winds and the rains and the rising storms of life.  My pastor says that we are all either coming out of a storm, in a storm right now, or about to head into a storm.  So, are we offering them more storminess?  Or are we inviting them out of the raging storm and into a nice warm shelter?

What, exactly, should we be offering as the church?  Shelter from the storm?  Or more of the same old us vs them conflict that the rest of the world lives under.  Are we living by the spirit of the world, or the spirit of Christ?  “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” 1 Corinthians 2:12 ESV

We all need a little shelter.   Yes, we do.

John Lewis

Taking Away the Sin of the World…

Taking Away the Sin of the World…

lambof god

A couple of days later than I wanted to be with this.  But, it’s a good message and one worth sharing.  Even if it gets under some skin…

John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare for the revolution.  The revolution God himself was bringing.  John was preaching and baptizing in the wilderness, preparing a people ready to participate in the revolution of the arrival of kingdom of God that would come with what Jesus was doing and saying.  John had gathered a large following, and had many disciples of his own.  At least two of these would become disciples of Jesus, Andrew and we believe John, though it doesn’t say so explicitly.

Lamb of God

Jesus comes out to where John is, to see this thing that John is doing out by the Jordan River.  John sees him coming and declares to his disciples Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  The next day Jesus comes again, and  John says it again.  The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.”  Andrew and John became followers Jesus, or as we might say, followers of the lamb.  Two of the very first Christians.   To be a Christian, to participate in the revolutionary kingdom of Christ, is to be a follower of the lamb who takes away the sin of the world.  But – what does this even mean?

We all know there is something deeply wrong in world.  We are over 7 billion strong as the human race, but we are still a long way from getting it right.  Something is wrong.  Why is there still so much hatred, so much racism, so many wars, so much poverty.  Why do 2 billion people, with all our advancement, technology, and ability to create wealth, still live abject poverty?  Why is there still so much preventable disease?   We have the means, we have the ability, we just have not organized ourselves to be able to prevent these things.  Never mind the diseases we haven’t cracked yet, but there are diseases we are completely capable of beating, yet we have not.  Why?

Sin

The only answer has to be because of our sin.   It’s what John calls the “sin of the world”.  In the book of Genesis, the sin of world begins with unhealthy desire.  In the garden, Adam was warned about this.  But Adam and Eve ignore their warning and begin to feed their unhealthy desire, leading to their expulsion (or maybe it would be more helpful to call this exile).  Then sin rears its ugly head, and Cain kills Abel.  This is the story that most clearly shows the sin of world that replicates its self over and over.   It seems to be the source of our problems and deep systemic problems we have until this day.

Rivalry-Free-Download-1

The sin of world is our rivalry with our brothers and sisters whom we call enemies and others, leading us to hate and accuse, to refuse and vilify, ultimately to  oppress and kill our sisters and brothers, especially if they belong to some other tribe, race, nation, or religious group.  We refuse to recognize those other than we think we are as our brothers.   Then we participate in all those Cain-like activities of hating, accusing, vilifying, oppressing and even killing.  This is the opposite of what the bible calls love.  The Bible also says God is love.  It’s by going against the grain of love that the world becomes a miserable place.

If we refuse to love God in such a way that it is manifested in loving our neighbor, we are on the highway to hell.  If we are going against universe as God created and intended (and we almost always are), we suffer the consequences of unintended pain and suffering.

god-so-loved-the-world

Someone must intervene.  This is what must be done when someone we love has gone down the path of self destruction.  God intervenes.  This is what we call Christmas.  God stages his own intervention.   Because “For God so loved the world…”.  God beholds this  race he has made in his own image engaged in increasingly self destructive behavior, and inserts himself into our situation in the form of his only begotten son.

_intervention

Someone must stage an intervention.   Someone has to take away the sin. It’s the sin that’s the problem.  Wars, poverty, racism, hatred are just manifestations, symptoms.  But the deeper problem is the sin.  So when Jesus appears on the banks of the Jordan, John announces the Lamb of God who takes away sin of world.

John1_29-behold-the-lamb-of-god-who-takes-away-the-sins-of-the-world

How?  How does Jesus take away the sin of the world?  We are at the beginning of the story, but  we find at the end of the story exactly how Jesus takes away the sin of the world.   The sin of the world, hating and killing our brothers, will be violently sinned into Jesus.  He becomes the supreme victim of problem,  he becomes the supreme victim of the sin of the world.  The sin of the world that wrecks the capacity of human flourishing coalesces into a great single moment in history and is sinned into Jesus.  And so he bears the sin of the world.

Hell

Where does he take it?   Down into death, Hades, Hell, Sheol.  Exactly where it belongs.  He takes that sin with himself down into the depths of death, and after three days he shakes it off.  He’s raised from the dead!!  He comes back, having born our sins, without a word of blame.  He takes it all, he bears it.  He’s the innocent Lamb of God.  All that sin, hatred, blame, revenge, retribution will all stay in Hades, but the Son of God returns on the third day.  He speaks of love, peace, and forgiveness, not vengeance and payback.  This is how the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world.   He  leads us into the new world by absorbing sin, forgiving it, and taking away sin of the world.   It dies with him, but is not resurrected with him.

BUT – we are called to be followers of the lamb.  In our own lives in our own way we are to imitate day by day, in ways big and ways small, what Jesus did.  We are not fans of the lamb, but followers of the lamb.  It’s one thing to be spectator in the stands, cheering your support.  Go Jesus!!  It’s another another to suit up.  It’s another thing altogether to get in the game, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.

take-up-your-cross

John the Baptist was the greatest of all prophets before Christ.  Jesus himself says so.  I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John.”  Luke 7:28 ESV   But two of his disciples leave for Jesus.  Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Whoever is least in the kingdom is greater than John.  You can be the greatest ever to live under the vision from Moses, but when Christ comes it’s a completely different world.   “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 ESV

The Stoning of St Stephen

This is what it means to be a Christian, to follow the lamb.  To live the ways of the lamb.  What does it look like?  Often times it looks like what Stephen did.  The day after Christmas on the church calendar is the feast of Stephen, St Stephens Day.  It’s appropriate that the day after celebrating birth of Christ the church honors the first Christian martyr.   We know the story of Stephen.  He was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. Acts 6:5 ESV.   Stephen was powerful, full of the Spirit, and was gathering around him many followers of Jesus.  This put him in rivalry with some in the Sanhedrin.   “But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”   So, of course, they killed him.   But as he’s dying, he cries out – “And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”  Acts 7:60 ESV.  He cries out for Jesus not to blame his own killers.   He’s become a little Christ, a Christian.   He carries their sin upon himself.  Just as the sin of the world comes upon Jesus but he does not recycle it or return it.  He did not follow the way of Cain, the way of revenge, way of the world.  He cries out for forgiveness, not vengeance.  He bore the sin of the world, helping the lamb of God take away the sin of world.

We either retaliate against sin and help the devil recycle and reenergize the sin of the world, or we absorb and forgive sin and help Jesus take away the sin of the world.   This is what it means to be a follower of the lamb.

mlk

Are there any modern examples followers of the lamb.  Well, how about Martin Luther King, Jr?  He was America’s greatest prophet.  True to what Jesus would say, America killed him and then built a monument to him.  What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! This is what God in his wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’

MLK_LorraineMotel_

So, yes, we killed him and built monuments to him.  We killed him, and created a holiday honoring him.  We killed him, we honor him, and we still live in the world picking up stones to throw at one another.

America has twin foundations sins.   The enslavement of Africans for the sake of economy, and the expulsion and sometimes genicidal treatment of native inhabitants in the name of expansion.  It was all about economy and expansion.

MLK Jr DC Memorial

It is fitting, then, that the grandson of slaves in the 1950s would show by his life to white American Christians what it looks like to follow the lamb.  The Gospel had taken root in African American churches at the time, and Martin Luther King was an embodiment of that.

The Dexter Avenue Baptist church in Montgomery Alabama.   It’s weeks before Christmas, November 17, 1957.  In Alabama. A black man in Alabama in 1957 knows what it is to have enemies.  Martin Luther King that day preached a sermon called “Loving your enemies.

“The evil seed of the enemy neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is.  An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy….we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy, but to win his friendship and understanding…

Seeing the image of God in your enemy who is trying to harm you is a very difficult thing to preach.  It would have been easy to just preach an us vs them, God is on our side Sermon, but that’s not what he did.

…Returning hate for hate multiples hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Violence multiples violence.  Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.  Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies or else?  The chain reaction of evil hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars must be broken or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.  To our most bitter opponents (bitter opponents as in KKK members dragging black men off to be beaten and worse) we say we shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by  our capacity to endure suffering.  We shall neet your physical force with soul force.  Do to us what you will, we shall continue to love you.  Throw us in jail and we shall still love you.  Bomb our homes (his home was bombed) and threaten our children and we shall still love you.   Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour to beat us and leave us half dead and we shall still love you.  But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer.  One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves.   We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.”  

Now that’s a follower of the Lamb.  Only Jesus makes that sermon possible.  Only Jesus makes that life possible.  He didn’t only want to liberate African Americans from unjust oppression, he wanted to liberate white Americans from the idea that they had to perpetuate their evil system.

On April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee Martin Luther King, Jr bore the sins of America when he was cut down by an assassins bullet.  By following the lamb, preaching Jesus, loving enemies and practicing nonviolence, Martin Luther King, Jr helped take away the sins of America.  His death helped awaken America to its sin of racism.

The death of Jesus was obviously unique in that he was the sinless sin of god vindicated by resurrection on the third day by the Father.  But the suffering and death of St Stephen, Martin Luther King, and every other Christian martyr is the ultimate example of what it looks like to follow the lamb.  They were helping the lamb take away the sin of the world, and God will raise them, too, to life everlasting.

Amen

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

 

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.”

John 1:29, 35-37 ESV

http://bible.com/59/jhn.1.29,35-37.esv

 

“What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! This is what God in his wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’”

Luke 11:47-49 NLT

http://bible.com/116/luk.11.47-49.nlt

John Lewis