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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
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
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
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
'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
'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
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
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
'All hail the lamb' heaven declares who was slain for sinners, sinners such as
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