Lamb of God
Copyright 2001 by Nina F. Wallestad. All rights reserved.
A shepherdess recalls the night she first met Jesus, the Lamb of God.
Biblical era peasant clothing
I was just a girl of six when I first met the Lamb of God.
It was indeed dark and lonely that night in the hills surrounding Bethlehem. My family.... (pause) We are sheep herders. I trust you won't hold that against me, although many people do. Not every shepherd in our land can be trusted. But, for some reason our reputation didn't seem to matter that night.
We were all gathered around the fire, trying to stay warm. I was snuggling with my favorite little lamb from that year's flock. No matter how hard I tried each year not to fall in love with one of the lambs, I always found one to adopt as a pet. And every year, when the time for sacrifices came, my little lamb would be offered up as payment for my sin, and for the sins of my family. I knew it wouldn't be long before this little lamb was taken from me, so I clung to him tightly and tried to draw warmth from his tiny, woolen body.
I was just about to give in to sleepiness, when in a moment the night turned painfully bright...even brighter than noonday. We all stood to our feet, shielding our eyes from the piercing light in the sky, wanting to turn away from the brightness, but somehow drawn to it at the same time. To say we were terrified would have been the understatement of our lives.
Before us stood an angel, a messenger straight from God. Why he had brought his message to us, we never quite understood. "Do not be afraid," he said, and with his words, our fear melted away into the darkness surrounding us. "I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people," he proclaimed with a voice that sent tingles up and down my spine. "Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
A savior? For me? I couldn't begin to understand what the angel meant, but there wasn't much time to ponder such things. The angel said we would find this savior, this baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. His words were still ringing in the crisp night air when the sky filled with heavenly beings. They were bursting with joy, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
As suddenly as they had come, they were gone. Moments later, we had grabbed up our things and were dashing down the hills to the town of Bethlehem, searching for this miracle baby, this savior that the angels had spoken of. Running as fast as my six-year-old legs could carry me, my pet lamb bouncing in my arms, I pondered the angels' words. "Peace among men with whom He is pleased." Could it be true? Could God be pleased with me? A poor little shepherd with dirty fingernails and tangled hair? These were thoughts my heart could not contain.
Somehow, and we never could understand how, we found in one of the nearby caves a crude little stable. Inside, a young woman, not many years older than myself, lay sleeping with a tiny baby in her arms. A kind man was arranging thin blankets around them and tending a little fire. Try as we might to enter quietly, my little lamb bleated out and startled the man from his quiet contemplation. Soon the baby was fussing and his mother awoke too. My father raised his hand, as if to swat my ears in his usual way, but something in the kind man's manner -- something about the mother's sweet, wondering face, something in the air that surrounded this new baby -- something stopped my father in his tracks. A hush fell upon us all, and my heart burst with joy and a deep longing to hold that new baby in my arms.
Somehow, the mother seemed to sense that kindred longing. Her eyes locked on mine. She motioned for me to approach. I quickly glanced at my own mother. She nodded her permission, and gently nudged me forward. "Come hold my little Lamb," the baby's mother said softly. I drew near, placing my bleating pet lamb at my feet in the straw. I reached out for this new little baby and snuggled him close to my chest. "His name is Jesus," his father said with a catch in his voice. "The name means savior."
Once again, I found myself holding a little Lamb. For a moment, my old hesitation rose in my heart. Could I allow myself to fall in love with this baby, with this little Lamb of God? I somehow sensed that one day, when the time for sacrifices came, this Lamb would be offered up as payment for my sin, for the sins of my family, for the sins of all. I sensed it wouldn't be long before this little Lamb of God was taken from all of us. But, try as I might, I could not help but fall in love with this little baby, this Jesus, this little Lamb of God. I clung to Him tightly, and drew warmth from His tiny, perfect body.
Copyright 2001 by Nina Wallestad. All rights reserved.