March is several weeks past us, but the weather typical to it is certainly hanging on for dear life…one example is snow on April 16th. Not unprecedented, but unusual. My favorite adage about this time of year is March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. It’s especially thought-worthy this year, since the lion’s been growling around longer than usual, not letting the poor lamb get its hoof in the door. Even the Pascal lamb was shooed out ungraciously.
A few weeks ago, a sermon I heard referenced the famous “Peaceable Kingdom” passage from the prophet Isaiah. For some reason, I never had caught on that the two animals found in my favorite March saying are also mentioned near each other in that passage: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (11:6).
Another interesting connection came to mind that day when I realized that two of the most powerful, anthropomorphistic names used for Jesus Christ are the Lamb of God, and the Lion of Judah. My thoughts went immediately to the Isaiah passage, and I soon realized that, though we long for and work towards the day when these animals will truly lie down together in peace, only in the person of Jesus has this already happened. He IS the lion and the lamb, simultaneously. And not just any lamb or lion, but the sacrificed son of Jehovah; the ferocious and gentle leader of the cultural and spiritual Jewish people. What an awesome spectacle of cosmic give-and-take: only Christ could handle encompassing both extremes of ultimate sacrifice and spiritual militancy.
Therein we find where our peace as Christ-followers (disciples) lies: in the person of Jesus Christ, the one part of the Godhead which our kind – humankind – actually had the ability to touch, see, hear, and smell in temporal space and time. He is the only place where our lions and our lambs can genuinely find rest; together, on the same soil. True biblical peace deals with shalom; wholeness; perfection (God's; not ours). When we speak His name, when we act in His name, we are in great ways bringing a bit more of that shalom, peace - Christ - to our environs.
This is a sobering thought when one dwells for awhile on the pointless waste of war that is raging in the world in this season – and we see some blood on our own hands. For the image of a lion is not used only to describe Jesus…it’s also used by the apostle Simeon (Peter) to describe Satan, “your enemy,” who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8). This is a season ruled by, and largely given over to, the lions (little l) of the world. And much as we can promote peace – shalom – in putting the name of our peace to work – Jesus Christ - we can also fight against violence in the same way, with the only weapon of offense given to Christ-followers: the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12, Ephesians 6:17). And what more powerful word is there than “Jesus Christ”? Surely more powerful than all the bitterly cold winds of March that somehow have gotten lost in the month of April.
Sisters and brothers, sharpen your weapon.