Who is looking after the lamb?

Jennifer Valentine-Miller Who is looking after the lamb
by Jennifer Valentine-Miller (for radio ministry)

“It is well known that a vegetarians main concern and cause for campaign is the slaughtering of an animal and not necessarily the preservatives in foods”.

Vegetarian’s cannot understand why Christians or religions see the slaughtering of lambs for sacrificial purposes, despite being capable of living to the age of 15. The life of lambs is cut short and they are often slaughtered at around four months old, although some are killed as young as 10 weeks old while others are kept for up to 15 months for man’s consumption. Modern Christians generally take a much more pro-animal line. They think that any unnecessary “mistreatment” of animals is both sinful and morally wrong. The advice given to me and other women during weekly gatherings is, “If your preparing a lamb dish for Sunday and you use a marinade, keep an eye on the clock and don’t go over the recommended time or else you will ruin the recipe!”

God allowed man to have dominion over the animals with the understanding that we are not to eat meat containing blood therefore it should be cooked. In biblical times and they were also hunted animals for their fur to use as clothing. Abstaining from meat, for example, during Lent and during times of fasting is an acceptable observation. Moreover, vegetarians believe in Genesis 1:29 which states, “behold, I have given you every plant yielding and every seed that is on the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food”. Because of this, we were never allowed to consume meat? There is of course sufficient evidence that Christ was not a vegetarian because he ate fish.

On the day when John the Baptist saw Jesus he exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” It appears again in John 1:36. Christian doctrine holds that a divine Jesus chose to suffer crucifixion at Calvary as a sign of his full obedience to the will of his divine Father, as an “agent and servant of God” in carrying away the sins of the world. In Christian theology the Lamb of God is viewed as the foundation and also integral to the message of Christianity.

One morning, I decided to visit my local animal farm on a day of inclement weather! And yes, I expected to see lambs and sheep running around, “not today.” said the farm help. I continued to walk around, determined to capture photographs. And instead, I found myself admiring in separate pens the Drakes, Geese, Hens, and Turkeys together in all their splendour. Is it the same in the local church? – whereby we see the shepherd looking after and feeding his or her flock during sermons, forgetting that there are young lambs or new converts in their midst. And if it so happens to be a church with a large congregation, then you will find birds of the same feather sticking together, because lambs cannot withstand the different seasons.

[“Birds of a feather flock together” Drakes and Geese at the Wellgate Community Farm. Picture taken by Jennifer Valentine-Miller]

What is the meaning of the Parable of the “Sheeps and Goats”?
Answer: This can be found in Matthew 25:31-46. A parable is a short, simple story of comparison. Jesus used parables to teach spiritual truths by means of earthly situations.

Jesus begins the parable by saying it concerns His return in glory to set up His kingdom (Matthew Chapter 25:). Therefore, the setting of this event was expected during the beginning of the millennium, “the time of tribulation”. It was expected that all those on earth at that time will be brought before the Lord, and He will separate them “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (verses 32–33). The sheep are those who were saved during the tribulation; the goats are the unsaved who survived the tribulation.

The sheep on Jesus’ right hand were blessed by God the Father and given an inheritance. The reason is stated: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (verses 35-36) and, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”(verses 39-40).

In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, we are looking at man redeemed and saved from life’s detriments, and man condemned and lost. This sees the case for salvation being the result of good works. The “sheep” acted charitably, giving food, drink, and clothing to the needy. The “goats” showed no charity. This seems to result in salvation for the sheep and damnation for the goats.

Scripture does not contradict itself, and the Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that salvation is by faith through the grace of God and not by our good works as in John 1:12. In fact, Christ Himself makes it clear in the parable that the salvation of the “sheep” is not based on their works—their inheritance was theirs “since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34)

The good works mentioned in the parable are not the cause of salvation but the effect of salvation – which is the preservation from harm, ruin, loss. As Christians we become like Christ. Good works in a Christian’s life are the direct overflow of the traits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. These are only acceptable because of the relationship that exists between sheep and Shepherd.

The core message of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats is that God’s people will love others. Followers of Christ will treat others with kindness. The unregenerate, who are the “goats” can indeed perform acts of kindness and charity, you will find one’s heart is not right with God, and their actions are not for the right purpose which is to honour and worship God. So, where is the lamb in all of this? The lamb is God that takes away the sin of the world. Whose sacrifice according to scripture is the will of the Father “who art in Heaven”. This is the foundation upon which Christianity is built.

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