Agnus Dei- Lamb of God by Rocky Fleming
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:13-14
In 1990 Michael W. Smith, who is an amazing Christian songwriter, wrote a song called Agnus Dei. The name is Latin and means, “Lamb of God.” It has also been a Latin name that has been honored in Catholic Masses for hundreds of years. In two months, our eyes and hearts will be drawn to the purpose of the Lamb of God, which was to be a sacrifice for mankind so that for those who believe and follow this resurrected Lamb, we will have eternal life. The Jews, before the crucifixion and resurrection, were reminded of the promised Lamb of God who would come as their Messiah. They called the annual reminder, “Passover.” The Passover tradition began when the Jews were led out of Egypt to find their promised land. A lamb was sacrificed, and its blood painted on the doorframe of their house, telling the Angel of Death to pass over the lives that were in those homes, as Pharaoh was forced to let God’s people leave. Since then, there was a seamless message for hundreds of years to the Jews reminding them of this promise to come. The prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus, even though most didn’t realize it at the time. But for those of us who have His sacrificed blood spread over the “doorframes” of our life, we will not experience eternal death. Death will pass us over, as it did in Egypt with the first Passover. How can this blood sacrifice wash our sins away?
“Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelations 7:13-14 (ESV)
Several years ago, I watched a discussion unfold concerning the verse about robes being washed white by the blood. The discussion was pretty narrow. The question was, “How can red blood wash anything white?” It was in a Sunday school class of senior citizens, and it just didn’t make sense to those who felt a literal interpretation of the Bible is the only one to follow, and they were up against their human reasoning and the scripture they were reading. They were trying to force scripture into their limited understanding and rigid mindset, and they lost the meaning of it altogether. It would be similar to Jesus telling His followers that they would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood to be saved, and not say, “I’m saying this figuratively.” By the way, He did not explain Himself when He first told them those things. He allowed the hundreds of years that they had been partaking of the Passover tradition to connect the truth in it to His purpose. But still, they didn’t get it at the time. Jesus allowed His body to be beaten, tortured and sacrificed to be God’s Sacrificial Lamb, and by doing so fulfill the Promise hidden in the Passover. Afterwards they began to understand.
Why not accept from Jesus what we don’t understand beforehand rather than waiting until we do understand, or approve of it? Isn’t that what a disciple does? Isn’t that what the ones who stayed with Him did? Maybe it is much like the people I mentioned who couldn’t understand how blood can make something white? As long as things of the Bible or challenges that we face fit into our own limited take on things, we can agree with what we read in scripture or are being taught. But when it gets outside our personal and limited perspective, we can throw it out as unthinkable, impossible, or blasphemous. That is what many of His followers did that day. What He was saying didn’t fit in their comfort zone, and they tuned Him out.
Here’s my take on the uncomfortable things Jesus brings to me. I’ve been in a developmental process for many years as a disciple of Christ, and there is much He needs to continue doing with me. I’m very aware of this. But I cannot be pliable in His hands to continue to be formed by Him if I hold on to a rigidity that is unteachable, unbreakable and prideful by thinking that I have nothing else to learn. It is painful to accept the truth that more is needed. It is painful to accept that if I follow Christ, I will experience many of the things He did from enemies and as well people who say they are friends. His friends deserted Him, betrayed Him, and deeply hurt Him. But He forgave and restored them. He forgave those who walked away from Him and still died for them. That is the Lamb of God whose blood has given us a forgiveness that can only be described as dazzling white with no taint of darkness. That is my Lord, my Teacher, and my Savior. There is more to Him than I understand and comprehend. But I accept gladly that I don’t have to fully understand Him or His ways to fully believe Him and obey Him. I don’t have to approve of His choice for me. I need to simply, but truthfully, trust Him. That is what I feel a disciple does to allow Jesus to continue His work in our life.
As we prepare our hearts for Easter and all that leads up to it, let us start by focusing on the Lamb of God who came to take away our sins. Let’s try to understand it on a personal and heart level. There is much more to understand about Agnus Dei. Let it begin now.