Tomorrow is March 1st, and the age-old question is, “Will it come in like a lion or a lamb?”  The forecasts I have seen call for the weather to be dry and cool.  We may even see the sun poke its head out of the clouds in the middle of the day.  That sounds like a lamb to me, so we better be aware come Holy Week.  Easter this year is March 31 …
 
Have you ever noticed how much of our general, worldly vocabulary (like March coming in like a lion or a lamb) has biblical roots?  Take, as another example, adulterate.  It means to corrupt, debase, or make impure, which is exactly what that commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is all about – corrupting the relationship between husbands and wives.  Or, how about the fact that our weeks each have seven days?  I won’t bother getting into how our weeks start with the celebration of Easter and new life, new creation, new opportunities.  I will let you think about more illustrations (if you wish) on your own, because my mind is carrying this thought in another direction.
 
I like the crossovers because they connect to us “being in the world, but not of the world.”  We can use the vocabulary of the world, but often understand it in deeper ways.  Or another way to put it, would simply be to state that part of the transformation that God works in us through his Word is not to take us out of the world, but to start us looking at the world in an entirely different way – the way God looks at it.
 
I think a good illustration is that of the police.  When you see the police coming toward you, do you view them as a threatening presence or a comforting presence?  It really should be comforting, shouldn’t it?  Police are deployed for the safety and wellbeing of all … they free us to enjoy life to its fullest – as life is to be lived.
 
The same can be said of the Ten Commandments.  They are given to us by God as a gracious gift.  I recently heard someone describe them as a hedge/fence around God’s people, keeping us safe and enabling us to enjoy life to its fullest – as life is designed to be lived.  However, because of the sin within us, we often find ourselves standing with our noses stuck to the hedge, looking at how green the grass is on the other side!  When we do this, we miss out on the acres and acres of green pastures (actually, the greenest pastures) God gives us within the hedge … while, at the same time, those outside the kingdom also fail to see the great value of being “Jesus’ little lambs”.
 
The Gospel readings on a few recent Sundays have taken us to the baptism and temptation of Jesus, with the emphasis of how wonderfully and intentionally he identifies with us, actually taking on our identity.  Since we are God’s little lambs, Jesus in taking upon himself our identity becomes the Lamb of God.  And, while to a certain degree, the devil is a roaring lion seeking to devour us, it also can be said that the Lamb of God allowed himself to be devoured by that very lion for our sakes … and then turned the table on him by actually devouring that old lion, assuring us that we really need never fear him again.  So, one might say that Jesus came in(to the world) like a lamb but went out (of the tomb) like a lion!  As one of the elders said to John, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered.” (Revelation 5.5)
 
As God’s holy people we are set apart as a city on a hill or a lamp on a lampstand.  And, as Jesus says, “A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5.14-16) We are set apart to be helpful and desirable, not standoffish … just as the hedge of the Ten Commandments is not in place to isolate or protect us from the people of the world but to enable them to see the better/best side of life and living and be drawn to the body of Christ.  Put another way, God is at work in and through us giving our common vocabulary a deeper meaning for them.   

Or, getting back to the theme of the day, in 2024 March may come in like a lamb and go out like a lion, but we, as people come in(to the world) as lions (seeking whom we may devour) but go out a lambs from the baptismal font … because the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1.29) has entered into our lives, never to leave.

Lion and/or Lamb?