Jesus, our Passover Lamb

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By Charles Gardner —

Church in Hubberholme



How appropriate, on the eve of Passover, to have spent a weekend on a sheep farm surrounded by new-born lambs.

My wife Linda and I were enjoying a short break in a remote part of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. The peace and quiet was tangible, and there were only a few other buildings in the tiny hamlet of Hubberholme.

Next door was a 12th century church which we visited on Sunday, swelling the congregation to six. The ornate interior was flanked by stunning stained-glass windows, and I sensed the profound presence of God as the vicar outlined the theme of Jesus being the Good Shepherd.

We sang a series of hymns and songs worshipping the One whom David knew as his Lord and Shepherd, his comfort and his strength. The vicar even taught us new songs and sang a solo with his lovely voice.

As it turned out, he was also a man who understood the importance of our Jewish roots – and there aren’t too many of those in these parts.

We read how Jesus told his Jewish disciples that he also had other sheep (not of this pen). “They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

He was talking, of course, of Gentiles like me who would respond to his call and become part of the “one new man” Paul describes in his letter to the Ephesians.

I am also reminded of the crucial part played by shepherds when Messiah came to tabernacle with us. And with Bethlehem traditionally understood as the location for preparing the Passover lambs for the feast, it is widely believed that there was no room at the inn because of the crowds of pilgrims descending on Jerusalem and the surrounding towns for Passover.

As we walked the exquisite lanes winding through a rich green valley and flanked by dry-stone walls to keep the sheep safe, we delighted in watching young lambs frolicking through the fields, so glad to be alive – for now!

Jesus too was full of joy as he shared his love with friend and foe, and he too was led like a lamb to the slaughter; the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep, becoming the sacrifice for all who mark his blood on the doors of their hearts.

Death and destruction has ‘passed over’ those who trust in his redemptive blood, and we are delivered through the Red Sea of suffering and affliction into the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom.

Jesus chose to die for us; it wasn’t our decision. “No-one takes it (his life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” Or as Isaiah wrote, “it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer…” But “after the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied”. (See Isaiah 53)

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, detail, Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (open), completed 1432, oil on wood, 11 feet 5 inches x 15 feet 1 inch, Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium

Yet he was despised and rejected by men (in many ways like his people down the centuries), “but he was pierced for our transgressions… We all, like sheep, have gone astray…and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Our little weekend hamlet is described by legendary novelist, playwright and broadcaster J B Priestley as “sheer magic” and “not of this world”. His ashes are buried in the churchyard and we met his great-niece, who had come up from faraway Devon for the interment of Priestley’s son Tom.

The church had also, earlier in the week, been used as a film location for the ongoing All Creatures Great and Small television series built around the stories of veterinary author James Herriott.

We had a final celebratory meal at The George Inn – a truly wonderful experience. The landlord made it his business to address each guest by their first name, and the food, wine and ale was stupendous.

Appropriately enough, Linda ordered roast lamb – and she has never tasted better!
The pub dates from 1640, serving as the vicarage for its first 100 years, during which time a lighted candle on the windowsill would indicate the vicar’s availability to parishioners, a delightful tradition kept up to this day as a sign of being open for business.

The jokey landlord Ed told me the inn remained in Church of England ownership until 1969 when it became its last pub to be sold.

We also visited Grassington, a bustling town 12 miles south where I purchased a lovely lamp for Linda, keeping up the theme of our paths being lit up by Jesus.

River near Grassington

I have driven through the town before, but never stopped to explore. And it was breathtaking, an absolute gem. Perhaps that’s what so many people do with Jesus. They simply pass him by, as it were, possibly by visiting a church or through a brief conversation. But they never stop to study his awesome beauty and the glory of his presence.

He is, after all, our Passover lamb who died for us, but who is now raised to the most exalted place, with a name that is above every name “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” (Philippians 2:9f).

It was a perfect weekend, a holiday from heaven, with Jesus in the midst.

 

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with the Lamb of God, go here