We use the word bummerto express frustration and disappointment. Maybe you say things like, “It was a bummer that our team lost the game,” or “You lost your cell phone? What a bummer!”
Have you heard of an animal called a bummer lamb? Shepherds use that phrase to describe a lamb raised away from its mother—a lamb rejected because of its small size or some other weakness. The mother sheep (a ewe) can provide enough milk to feed one or two lambs, but if she gives birth to a set of triplets or quadruplets, she cannot feed them all, so one of the lambs (the bummer) goes hungry. The only way a bummer lamb can survive is through the care of the shepherd who protects it and bottle feeds it by hand.
Profound strands of prophetic symbolism find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Isaiah portrayed the Messiah as a suffering servant who “was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). John the Baptist saw Jesus walking toward him and exclaimed, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). What does it mean to say Christ is the Lamb of God?
He is our freedom bringer. The lamb slaughtered and consumed every year during the Passover feast reminded the Hebrews of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Likewise, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). A sign in a veterans’ hospital says, “The cost of freedom is visible here,” and the same is true of the cross of Christ.
He is our sin bearer. Employing imagery reminiscent of the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement, the prophet says about the Messiah, “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
He is our understanding leader. Are you enduring emotional or physical suffering? Do you know the pain of rejection? Like a bummer lamb, Christ “was despised and rejected” (v. 3). “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
He is our triumphant Savior. Thankfully, the suffering servant’s story didn’t end with death. According to prophecy, after suffering for our sins the Messiah would “see the light of life and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). Yes, Jesus “‘bore our sins’ in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24), but afterward he rose victoriously from the dead.
Revelation 7:17 pulls it all together by declaring, “The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.” Christ is the Lamb-Shepherd! Fully human and fully God, the Good Shepherd leads the flock, but he also knows how it feels to be a sheep. As the Lamb of God, he takes away our sins; as the Good Shepherd, he feeds his sheep, protects us, and calls us by name (John 10:14).
Christ was rejected like a bummer lamb, but after moving successfully through the valley of the shadow of death, he has the power to restore our souls. That’s good news if you ever feel like a bummer lamb yourself.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.