Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (forthright.net). Copyright © 2012, Christine Berglund.
Almost every garden visitor wants to bend down and pet the Lamb’s Ears. I have a huge mass of them in my front garden, waiting for a good time to transport them to the new Children’s Garden in town. Everyone on the committee for the new project agreed that the downy, soft leaves of this plant would make a fun tactile experience for kids.
Lamb’s Ears, or “Stachys Byzantina,” forms a wooly mat of intertwined stems laying along the ground and rooting wherever they touch the earth. It has pretty purple flower stalks in the summer, which attract bees to the garden.
We so adore soft things like the Lamb’s Ears plants, or if we are fortunate enough to experience farm life, the little lambs born in the springtime. Their innocence and trusting nature draws us to them. You want to pet them and hold them. Most touchable of all are their little soft ears!
Now, this is where our warm, fuzzy story turns gory, bloody, and violent. Like the lamb that that was sacrificed at the first Passover, Jesus gave himself up to a grisly death. His blood was spilled and used like the Passover Lamb to cover our dwelling place doors. When the Israelites slaughtered their Passover lamb, they used the blood to mark the doors where they lived, so that the Angel of Death would not enter. Those doors are our hearts, and if we want to escape the fate we really deserve, they must be marked with the blood from this shockingly brutal sacrifice.
We may think of the Lamb of God in terms of soft, furry, and touchable. I do not disagree. However, Jesus is more than a baby in a manger, or a soft little lamb whose ears we want to stroke. We remember the Cross, and cringe in horror. But his magnificent love made us clean, and his horrific, sacrificial death allows us an abundant life.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” proclaimed John the Immerser in John 1:29 (NASB).
But how? Not by being warm and fuzzy.
The book of Hebrews outlines how Jesus was our Passover Lamb, tortured and left to die without even the comfort of knowing God was with him. He cried out in agony, like a trusting and helpless lamb, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This was because the righteous and pure God of heaven could not look upon sin. Sin was exactly what Jesus took upon himself as our Lamb of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
One downside of the lovely and touchable Stachys plant is that during the summer the center of the plant dies out, becomes revoltingly slimy and ugly. Many a summer I have uprooted this dead stuff and tossed it on a compost pile, only to have it spring to life when I wasn’t looking!
In my garden, it’s a reminder that the Lamb of God had to die, and then rise again.
As I touch this soft plant that shares a nickname with my Savior, I remember that all was not sweetness and softness for him, because of the seriousness of my own sin problem.
I love how plants remind me of such wonderful truths!
“He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Live for him! He died for you.