|Unpack Your Bag and Stay|
I bet many, if not all of us, have hit our fingers or thumb when we’ve tried to hammer a nail and missed. It hurts! This very human experience goes back to the beginning of time.
“Hammer” is a very important word in the bible. In Greek, the word hamartia is the word for sin. The root meaning of hamartia is “missing the mark.” When we “miss the mark” and hit our thumb or finger, we hurt ourselves, “ouch!” Sin doesn’t hurt God at all, or make God mad at us, it hurts us! It’s more like a parent saddened when they watch their child get hurt.
Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
With our understanding of hamartia, or sin, we could translate John the Baptist’s words as “This is the Lamb of God who will help the world not miss the point.”
What is the “point” that the world had been missing or needed saving from? I would say this:
God loves every human being as a son or daughter, there is no need for rivalry or the killing of one another in order to live in peace. This is the point human beings have missing from the beginning.
In order to rediscover paradise we don’t have to use violence, require death, sacrifice, or find a scapegoat to blame for our trouble or insecurity. The “Lamb of God” will take away once and for all time this sin.
When John calls Jesus the “Lamb of God,” he is using a commonly understood sacrificial term or title. Lambs were sacrificed all the time. They replaced “human” sacrifice in the sacrificial system of the time. Think the story of Abraham and Isaac, when the angel stayed Abraham’s sword that would sacrifice Isaac and told him to sacrifice an animal instead. God was starting to make the point then- the system that saw the necessary sacrifice of human beings was flawed!
But human culture continued to “miss the point.” People continue to sacrifice human beings, created by God, to attempt to win God’s favor or for their own ends. Striving to rid themselves of evil, they created even more evil. Sin, hamartia, continued to reign. This is the “sin” that the Lamb of God offered himself to forgive.
This is very important. Jesus, the Lamb of God, offered, emptied himself of God-head, freely, to show humanity from the inside (as one of us), a way to live free of a sacrificial system that required that some be sacrificed so that “evil” might be destroyed. Jesus showed that real evil can only be eliminated by forgiveness, mercy, and love.
This is not easy to understand. It is so easy to continue to miss the point. Why? Because we think that Jesus’ death as Lamb was required by God to turn God’s anger from us and restore his love for us. (11th Century Doctrine of Atonement) This is not the case! God always loved us (created children) and the world God created. It was/is humankind that continues to live in a sacrificial system that requires the pointing of the finger, acts of war, “sacred” violence, and destruction of creation. Jesus’ blood, his death on the cross, was not to change God’s thinking about us (God always loves all his children, however wayward), but to change our thinking about God (a Lover, not waiting to punish us).
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.