Truest Text
Off the Wall, Apr 10
, 2014

Any time we fill out forms, the first thing that is asked for is one’s title. We are to check “Mr. “or “Mrs.” usually boxed, for example. By definition, a title is a name or a descriptive designation. So, anyone hearing the words, “The Greatest,” may recall that Muhammad Ali was given this title depicting his fame in the boxing profession. “Sugar Ray” (Robinson) was given his name in that same sport. And when we hear that “The king has left the building,” we know that Elvis Presley has departed and will not return.

A while back, I was listening to a priest give a homily when he made it perfectly understood that “‘The King’ has not left the building.” From a Christian perspective, he was giving reference to Jesus Christ the Creator of our universe, the all loving and most merciful God Who was among the midst of the people worshipping Him.

I don’t know how many other names the pop star had, but I will tell you this. The King of the Jews, Jesus Christ, has more titles than anyone will ever have. And to think, what I listed in the previous paragraph are three of hundreds.

He is also known as Advocate, Almighty, Beloved Son, Bread of Life, Chosen One, Christ Child, Deliverer, Cornerstone, Holy One, Lord of Lords, Mediator, Prince of Peace, Savior and Lamb of God. Today I will discuss the latter. To understand how this title came to be, we must revert back to the time of the Passover.

Described in the New Testament, the Passover has roots all the way back in Exodus, Chapter 12. Here the Lord spoke to Aaron and Moses concerning the sacrifice of lambs and in some cases, goats. Each had to be free of blemishes. God told them exactly what had to be told to the people and what would result if they heeded His commands. Verse 14 states, “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations will celebrate as a perpetual institution.”

And such as it was, the sacrifice of lambs played a very important role in the Jewish religious life and sacrificial system. “Another important sacrifice involving lambs,” according to www.gotquestions.org , “was the daily sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem. Every morning and evening, a lamb was sacrificed in the temple for the sins of the people. These daily sacrifices, like all others, were simply to point people toward the perfect sacrifice of Christ.”

A matter of fact, Jesus was crucified on the cross at the exact time when the evening sacrifice was made in the temple. “The Jews at that time,” according to the website, “would have also been familiar with the Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah, who foretold the coming of the One who would be brought ‘like a lamb led to the slaughter’ and whose sufferings and sacrifice would provide redemption for Israel. Of course, that person was none other than Jesus Christ, Lamb of God.”

From another website, en.wikipedia.org, it states, “Although ‘Lamb of God’ refers in Christian teachings to Jesus Christ in His role of the perfect sacrificial offering, Christological arguments dissociate the term from the Old Testament concept of a ‘scapegoat,’ which is a person or animal subject to punishment for the sins of others without knowing it or will it. Christian doctrine holds that Jesus chose to suffer at Calvary as a sign of His full obedience to the will of His Father, as an ‘agent and servant of God. The Lamb of God is thus related to the Paschal Lamb of Passover, which is viewed as foundational and an integral message of Christianity.”

This brings me to Agnus Dei, a title for Jesus that appears in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 29, where John the Baptist sees Jesus and exclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

In the text used in the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and Western Rite of the Orthodox Churches, it is sung or recited during the fraction of the Host during communion. Taken from the Latin, the truest, interpretative text used is, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”

Only in the Church of England’s Common Worship liturgical resources will the Agnus Dei incorporate titles such as “O, Lamb of God,” “Jesus Lamb of God,” “Jesus, bearer of our sins,” and/or “Jesus, redeemer of the world,” for example.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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