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March 14, 2004
Purpose: We are not perfect Doves or perfect Lambs, but we are disciples striving to feel the presence of God’s humility in our everyday walk with Christ, as we grow in our humility with one another.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been in hospitals, in churches, in nursing homes, and in assisted living centers. I’ve been on the campus of Wesley Theological Seminary in our nation’s capital, and in order to get there, I’ve been through three different airports twice.
I’ve been in contact with people who are frustrated, confused, in the midst of crisis, just facing a crisis, or have just been through a crisis. I’ve met happy people, sad people, people who give off an air that they have it all together, and other people who don’t really care what others think of them. Some of them were very religious. Some not at all.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve handled over 300 valid email messages. And that’s only after sorting through the other 700 that my spam software had missed. I can’t begin to count the number of phone calls I’ve made or answered, although I can tell you that there’s been some collect calls from the jail recently from someone who needs to benefit from the ministry of our congregation.
All of this is to say, that at each moment, at each location, dealing with each personal situation, I can sincerely say, God’s presence was there. And since it was, there was no need for Greg to act upon Greg’s own abilities and talents, EVEN THOUGH GREG TRIED, but to simply allow God do work in each one of those situations as he so deemed.
In our passage this morning, we hear the story once again of Jesus’ baptism. As Jesus approached John the Baptist, John stopped and yelled, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” and once this Lamb was baptized, John recalls that he “saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.”
A dove and a lamb. Two very powerful images, which bring to our thoughts and minds, the very presence of God in our midst. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, at one place and one time, to prove one point…the power of humility.
I. The Humility of God as a Dove and Christ as a Lamb
Now some will probably say that there’s more to it than just humility, but I believe that if God was trying to prove any other point, it’s overshadowed by the symbols of a dove and a lamb.
The dove…probably one of the most defenseless creatures in all creation…is often used to symbolize peace, because of it’s gentle nature and lack of any ability to truly defend itself.
And likewise, the lamb, who for generations and generations of Jews, symbolized submissiveness, self-surrender, and of course, humility.
Hession notes in his book, “The main lesson of this incident is that the Holy Spirit, as the Dove, could only come upon and remain upon the Lord Jesus because he was the Lamb. Had the Lord Jesus been any other disposition…the Dove could never have rested on Him. (To follow this illustration to a logical conclusion,) being herself so gentle, the dove would have been frightened away had not Jesus been meek and lowly in heart.” (p.58)
Humility, then, either illustrated as the Dove or the Lamb, is the key. It is at the heart of who God is…father, son, and spirit. Humility is what breaks
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