WHEN JESUS CHOSE A NICKNAME

Some of us are known for being tall, others for being short. Some are known for being great athletes, others for their book-learning. And when people look at those traits we have, they assign nicknames to us. Sometimes those nicknames are a shorthand way of thinking about us. Many times those nicknames are cruel, like […]

Some of us are known for being tall, others for being short. Some are known for being great athletes, others for their book-learning. And when people look at those traits we have, they assign nicknames to us.

Sometimes those nicknames are a shorthand way of thinking about us. Many times those nicknames are cruel, like slow-poke or nerd, or dumb jock. (Believe it or not, the kids in my elementary school used to call me “Skinny-bones Jones.” I definitely got over that name!) Other times they are more neutral, like Buckeye or Hoosier.

But we really never get to choose our OWN nicknames. They are chosen for us by people who want a shorthand way of thinking about us.

What would you call yourself if YOU got to pick a name that would be associated with you?!

People may not get to choose their own nicknames, but they can choose the names of their sports teams. So they choose names like “The Lions,” “The Bears,” “The Jaguars,” or “The Cowboys.”  These names are designed to be imposing or frightening to their enemies.

When Jesus came to earth, He had the unique opportunity to decide how mankind would think about Him; and He chose a name that we would consider ridiculous.  “The Lamb.”

Imagine a city that chose as a name for their football team … the Lambs!  Everyone knows how things would turn out when the Rams met the Lambs, or the Lions met the Lambs. It would not be a pretty sight!

And yet … there came a day when God sent John the Baptist whose self-declared role was to prepare people for the King who was to come. And when it was time for John to finally fulfill his destiny and give the grand introduction of Jesus to the people that Jesus had made, HIS ROYAL PROCLAMATION WENT LIKE THIS:

“BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD!”

If John had received press secretary training, he would have balked at that introduction. Whenever we are formally introduced, people name our greatest accomplishments! John did indeed introduce Jesus as God wanted Him introduced, and he did indeed declare what Jesus’ greatest act on earth would be—His greatest accomplishment.

To the Jewish mind, the name “Lamb” would not have conjured images of weakness and vulnerability as much as “the animal we sacrifice.”

His “lambness” was not about weakness! It was about sacrifice.

I suppose it was kind of God that the animal which He required that the people of Israel use for their sacrifice was not a bear or a tiger. While you were trying to lay THAT sacrifice down on the altar, you could very well end up sacrificing yourself!

Instead, God chose a sacrificial animal that was not going to harm those who harmed it!

That was a kindness!

The world misunderstands the metaphor entirely. The Lamb of God did not reveal God’s weakness. He was sent to display God’s kindness.

There was never in Jesus an incapacity or vulnerability that flowed from an inability to rule and reign, but rather a desire to reach out in love to His enemies instead of crushing them.

Oh, He was capable of the lion’s roar. We saw glimpses of it. When He saw tables and animals so crowding the court of the Gentiles that sincere seekers after God could not make it into His presence, a glimpse of the lion appeared.  When He kicked over the tables and scattered their money, not even the temple guards intervened!

On the last night of His life as Jesus was preparing to sacrifice Himself for us all, there was a near riot in the garden as His followers squared off against the soldiers with swords and torches. But when Jesus stepped between danger and His disciples, He spoke His ancient name, and so much power pulsed out from Him that the Scripture records that His attackers fell to the ground like dead men.

In the stunned silence that followed, Jesus didn’t even have to raise His voice. “Let these men go. It is me that you are seeking.”  And in that disoriented moment, stunned guards permitted all of the disciples to make their escape.

Our Lamb could roar, but He chose to sacrifice Himself for our sakes.

It is important for us to remember His great kindness to display glimpses of His overwhelming power only when He needed to protect us.

There is a day marked on God’s calendar of the ages when the Lamb will take His proper place from which He will reign over the universe.

The power of love will conquer the love of power, and the people of God will live in an eternity of safety and well-being.

On that day, He will come to claim His people and His throne. And on that day, with the sacrifice for our sins forever accomplished, Revelation 19 tells us that He will ride out in His true nature as the Word of God with the words “King of kings and Lord of lords” emblazoned across His clothing. His appearance will be overwhelming, and His spoken words will be the sword with which He puts to an end all those who persist in opposing Him.

Here is the point of this article: When the Lord calls us to be like Him, He is not asking us to be feeble or ineffectual (because He was certainly not that). He is calling us to control our desires for power and choose the harder path of sacrifice.

The Lord Jesus gave us the responsibility of finishing the task which He began, in the way that He began it. In order to accomplish that, we must be willing to so identify with the Lord’s self-sacrificing ways that the world will sometimes look down on us and consider us to be non-factors in their carnal way of thinking. This is how they treated our Master, and He conquered them by love and sacrifice.

We are not to learn to roar like their parodies of power, or to destroy people, but to leave to God the final verdict and outcome of history and to serve the needs of the people that He created.

We do this with the sure confidence that Jesus has won the victory and that the prophecy of Revelation 5:12 will come to pass when the assembled billions of His created beings sing together in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”