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The Lamb


David Robinson

Mum really did look cold in fact I never saw her shiver so much before, she reassured me that she was okay that it happened to all of our family sooner or later. I was the youngest in our extended family and mum felt so proud and showed it in so many ways. Even when the shepherd grabbed her roughly all she could think of was making sure I was okay she even nudged me to chase me away so that others would not trample on me.

It was shearing time on the farm, I had never witnessed it before seeing I was only just coming to my first birthday, it was an experience the like of which I never wanted to see again. Rough hands, sweating cursing men herded frightened family and friends into the darkness of a big shed, noise of shears clicking, warm coats being stripped off without leave.

One thing was missing in the deafening roar which created such fear in me, it was the sound of distress, it was as though the sheep had been struck dumb before the shepherds who treated them as mere animals. Didn't they know that we have rights too? Didn't they realize that we too hurt when cut and pushed around? Don't they realize that we feel fear and pain or is it that they are intent on following their own ways regardless of the rights or wrongs of others?

I looked through a small knot hole in the rough half rotten timber which had become a prison cell for the innocent; the guilty had become jailor and executioner. I stood transfixed at the sight as laughter filled the room, one man shouted 'I wager that I can shear this one's coat quicker than anyone else' bets placed, scissors whirred and soon the proud winner stood triumphant over a quivering sheep.

Hands held her coat high for all to see, men mocked her as she lay held tightly between the victors legs, I recognized her as the one who had done so many kind things for us as a family. Never one bad word about anyone, always first in the queue when someone took sick, ever near to those who needed encouragement.

I watched as the farmer and his son stood by gazing at this dreadful spectacle, surely they would put as stop to this after all she was their own. Instead of stopping what was happening they spurred on the workers to do worse, it was as though they did not recognize us as their own, one man lurched against the wood just above my vantage point and the timber groaned at the weight that was placed against it.

I wondered to myself, if the tree that birthed this prison cell had known of its destiny would it have grown crooked instead of straight?, but then perhaps it too had no choice.

I could stand the sight no more and shoulders weighed down headed for open fields, at least from a distance I could look without hearing the silent screams any more. Three of us gathered together that day each one fear filled and drained of strength, we comforted one another hoping, trusting that we would never witness such cruelty again. We were like tender plants without roots, vulnerable; those we counted as friends had rejected our pleas, they had treated us as though they despised us for being weak. After what seemed an age the great doors that had taken and held my family in prison opened with reluctance, it was as though they too had become accustomed to the cruelty of man.

My mum came seeking me out from the crowd, running now as she saw me stand frightened she came and nudged me as mums do, love flowed from her bleeding wounds and soothed my fears. Tenderness spoke 'It will be alright', 'my coat will grow back again and the wounds will heal, 'what about the bruises and the long stripes? 'They too will disappear'

Things went back to normal among us sheep as the green grass soothed memories once darkened by sights that should never have happened. Sure enough weeks later mum was back to normal, her coat had grown back whiter, softer than ever, ugly scenes cast aside, distant dark days swept by as quickly as summer clouds.

Peace reigned once again in the valley I grew stronger daily and had the finest features a lamb can have, my closest friend although he had a badly cut lip caused by a fall always managed to keep up with me as we romped together in green pasture through which ran a small stream. It was like heaven to us all as bright autumn mornings were followed by crispy winter mornings, by now the cold did not even bother me because I had my own warm coat. Soon short frosty nights turned once again to ever lengthening days as the sun struggled for supremacy over dark winter, nature began to once again dance with joy.

Joy did I say joy? Well; it was grand until the day the men came and took me away, they had looked at my friend and seeing his cut lip they tossed him aside, others too who were scarred were passed by as they were looking for 'the perfect lamb'

When the deal was done he gathered me up gently and carried me across his bent shoulders, along side us ran people, thronged streets flooded with busy beggars and scurrying children; some stopped to admire me and how strong I looked, and others spoke of how 'the Lord' would be pleased.

After what seemed an age we stopped before the great temple walls and waited our turn to enter, all around me were bleating lambs, people with turtle doves and some with pigeons. Pride of place went however to the bulls and red heifers fine specimens every one proud of their beauty, me? well I just wanted to know what we were doing in such a place. Here we were all eaters of grass and herbs and yet there was no grass to be seen except for the odd shoot growing among the stones that littered the roadway.

There was a strange silence from the animals around me now as the huge doors of the temple opened, hinges groaning timbers wailing as they swung apart to let the strange congregation inside.

In this place was a smell so deathly that it must be death itself, whispering lambs whispered, birds stopped being birds and even the bulls were seen to quake in their hooves, while at the feet of my new master a red sea flowed. It was as though all the blood in the world was flowing around where we stood, I struggled for freedom and the cords that had secured me in safety now almost chocked me.

Death stood before me his white robes splattered with the blood of my friends, he checked me over quickly to see if I had any blemishes and then nothing, no breath, no smell, no seeing, no pain, nothing...

It was indeed spring time here in Jerusalem, to say that I was weary would be an understatement and yet there was strength for each day and a joy in the work I had come to do.

The garden beckoned me yet again, I so loved this place, at least here I could be alone with my thoughts; at least here the crowds that filled my days were off dreaming of better tomorrows. Me I knew what was ahead of me, I knew that I was called to be in this quiet place long before I was born some 33 years earlier, my companions were lying asleep having been overcome by the temptation of just a few minutes peace. It began before time was invented, before there ever was a garden, before there ever was a tree or even a flower, the stars sparkled above my head as though preparing to light my way back home. In my heart I wandered over the aeons of time back to that day when my Dad said to me and our constant companion, ''I have a plan''

I remembered with fondness how my ears had stopped listening to all the other sounds as Father spoke, like a child I looked into his eyes, eyes which fair danced with joy. 'I desire with desire to create a planet which will stand out among all others, a jewel among all the other stars' I almost jumped and said 'yes and again yes I agree' knowing that whatever Father created was always good.

'And a garden too' he continued, 'where everything beautiful will grow and plants and trees and animals of every sort' His enthusiasm grabbed me as he drew a picture of his world, a world hidden in his heart, hidden from view until that day, 'it sounds wonderful' we replied in a chorus and hurried to begin the task of creation.

'We will also create a man in our image and likeness and give him power over all we create' father said, his eyes seemingly having lost some of the sparkle, my mind was overtaken at the magnitude of such a design, nothing left to chance with father ever.

'Only one problem' now that was a word I had never heard on fathers lips and yet it hung over the gathering like a still small cloud before father uttered the 'S word' Sin, we had known of the possibility of it but in something father would give life to? I sought for a hidden smile and found none, this was serious and yet nothing was going to be allowed to dampen our enthusiasm.

In my youthfulness I had said 'don't worry I will deal with the sin problem when it arises' 'One problem' father spoke softly now searching my eyes for sincerity 'the wages of sin is death, someone is going to have to die for this mans sin'

Without taking a breath I almost gushed out the answer father knew was coming, 'go ahead and create this jewel, go ahead and create the trees and the animal, go ahead and make the man, give him all authority over every moving creature and do not be concerned about sin for I will willingly take it upon myself and pay the ultimate price of death to see your beloved creation stand before me'

And so it was we began to unfold Fathers plan, this thing of beauty so deep it was almost indescribable, we began by replacing darkness with light, then placed all the pieces together as a jigsaw until Father stood admiringly and said 'it is good'

Next piece we exclaimed in our delight as father formed red clay into the image of himself by patting the shape just right with his right hand, we gave our opinion of course had our say because we were always in unity. When he stood up to admire his handiwork, the Spirit bent down and breathed life into clay. Suddenly the eyes so wonderfully fashioned had blinked and opened before the mouth gave a quiet almost inaudible sigh before the body shuddered and sat upright.

So many days were spent talking to this wonder of father's heart; every evening we walked in the cool air, a true companion, a real friend was this strange naked man whose life enriched even our existence. Father was delighted with every step they took together and also warmed by the love the man showed to him, the trees almost clapped their hands with joy, the babbling brook babbled louder as they passed by. Animals trusted the man we called Adam, indeed in this place nothing was ever harmed; even the lion lay down with the lamb it was almost like home to me and yet it was not to last...

'It is not right that Adam be alone' it was announced sometime later, that's Father for you always putting others first and so we took a rib out of Adams side and made him a help mate. A woman another thing of beauty created for Adam and for father's pleasure, nothing was left to chance in this place of pleasure garden. Ugliness arrived among beauty and tempted our beloved telling them that they could be Gods if they would simply disobey Father's will, in moments they were cheated out of their inheritance and settled for corruption instead.

Father called for them as usual that cool evening for another stroll and found them hiding scared at what he would say; love chastised them and then killed an innocent animal to cover their nakedness. The separation was the hardest for us all, laughter stopped in the garden and tears were born...

Hard stone, not much of a resting place for weariness and loneliness, my companions slept now while here I could not be comforted, I had always known that this evening would come but wished that there was another way. Pounding heart and tear streamed eyes sought for comfort; hands that had healed the hurting lost their power to heal my own brokenness. I was born for such a time as this, this is my destiny and yet I cried out 'Father is there no other way? If not your will be done' I found myself sweating under the burden, sweating great drops of blood as my mind was assailed by every demonic power that ever attacked humankind. Oh it was so tempting, just to say no would break the pain but I had fallen in love with Adams race and held on.

Companionless except for stones, trees and darkness, cold swept across my face drying the bloodstained sweat, a silent cry for help found no answer, this was a wine- press I was to walk alone. Moments later a kiss betrayed my friendship, an angry mob tore at my clothes and lifted voices accused me wrongly, sleeping companions awakened to help but this was my time, the day for which I was born, 'a lamb slain before the foundation of the world'...

What difference was there between one lamb and the other? Each was innocent, each was pure and undefiled, each one chosen, each destined for sacrifice, innocent blood shed for the guilty world. Each was to know the wickedness of man kind, each was to feel the rough hands and both were set to end up on an altar, one on an altar of brass the other a wooden altar in the shape of a cross.

It is here the similarity ceases and the saviour emerges not to cover sins with blood like the lamb but to cleanse and to destroy the power of sin once and for all, This man Jesus poured out his love before he poured out his blood, neither his life nor his love could cleanse but his blood makes the vilest sinner clean 'forever'

'All hail the lamb' heaven declares who was slain for sinners, sinners such as I...
David Robinson

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