Home > Reading > Daily Reading – February 23, 2023

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

In today’s Gospel reading, John the Baptist provides a vital focus for Lent. John points to Jesus and announces, “Behold the Lamb of God.” What is Lent about? It is about looking to, and beholding, Jesus — who is the Lamb of God.On this second day of Lent, let’s take another look at John’s announcement. John calls Jesus the Lamb of God. That is one of the great titles, one of the great images, for Jesus in the New Testament. It is an image we still use in the modern church. We have stain glass windows, pictures, songs, and proclamations declaring that same announcement: that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
And yet, if you think about it, isn’t that a strange image? The Son of God as a Lamb? We think of God in terms of power and might, and yet Jesus is revealed as a Lamb? It feels a bit jarring or strange. And then you have to ask, what does it mean to call Jesus the Lamb of God?
Let me suggest some things for us to keep in mind as we look to this image. First, the title “Lamb of God” should make us think of the Passover story way back in the Old Testament. In the book of Exodus, the people of Israel were looking to escape slavery in Egypt. In that event, lambs were slain and their blood was painted on doorposts to save the people of Israel from death. Calling Jesus the Lamb of God reminds us that Jesus’ blood was shed to save us.
The phrase Lamb of God has echoes of imagery from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. Centuries before Jesus, Isaiah spoke of how God would send a deliverer who would suffer for the people. Isaiah 53:7 says – “Yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.” The phrase Lamb of God reminds us how Jesus fulfills this Old Testament prophecy by suffering and dying to deliver us.
This image of the Lamb of God helps us to think of all sorts of associations like humility, accessibility, gentleness, care. This beautiful image of the Lamb helps us to see and understand who Jesus is. What do you see in this image?
I was teaching a class on Revelation a while back and we were studying how Revelation 5 introduces Jesus as a lion, but then moves to imagery of Jesus as a lamb. The class talked about that. One of the members, a sweet elderly lady, thought about it then said, “I love this. When I’m in distress, I’m not going to go to a lion. But a lamb, that’s what I need. It tells me that Jesus is accessible, caring, that He will welcome me. This image invites me to Jesus.”
Jesus is the Lamb of God. Lent is a time to look to Jesus, just as John the Baptist directs us. Take time this Lenten season to reflect on who Jesus is. This Lamb of God is the one for us to seek and know.

Prayer: Holy Lord, You are the Lamb of God. Help us, this Lenten season, to grow in You and to discover more and more of who You are for us. Amen.

Devotion written by The Rev. Dr. Mark H. Braaten

“Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, 156”

This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After several challenging years in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.

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